CTA changes begin for Wells Street Bridge

March 2, 2013 9:00:13 PM PST
Many CTA riders are dealing with the first day of route changes now that the Wells Street Bridge over the Chicago River is shut down.

Work to replace the Brown Line track at the Wells Street Bridge began Friday night and that work is going on around the clock.

There were a lot of confused CTA riders Saturday.

Despite an extensive outreach campaign, regarding this week's Brown Line reroutes, many were caught unaware.

"We were going to take the Brown Line into the Loop, but I guess we're going to have to take this reroute," said Becka Langer.

Starting Saturday and continuing until March 11, the Brown Line will not run on the Loop's elevated tracks. Taking advantage of the city's ongoing Wells Street Bridge reconstruction project, the CTA decided to carry out a needed track replacement.

"We'll be replacing not only the tracks over the bridge itself, but also the tracks north and south of the Wells Street Bridge, so you've got a complex bridge reconstruction project and a complex CTA project going on at the same time," said CTA spokesperson Brian Steele.

This weekend the Brown Line is running only between Kimball and Chicago Avenue.

Passengers arriving at Chicago must then leave the station and take one of the waiting shuttle buses which make every stop along their route, ending at three of the business district's major stations: Clark and Lake, Clinton and Washington and Wells.

"I think they have it well in hand," said Kathleen Egan. "Coordinated, no problems. Got here in a snap."

"I Googled it online this morning to get some information, but I still don't know where to go, so I'm going to ask the bus driver now," said Sharmetta Jones.

But even with the shortened timeline to complete the track replacement, some Saturday night questioned the CTA's decision to carry the project out during the winter.

"We have to stand out in the cold, wait on the shuttle bus and do all that extra stuff. I feel it's too much," Michelle Johnson said.

While others have simply factored the re-route into their daily commute.

"The trains run pretty bad on the weekends," said Rodney Sims. "They don't run like they do during the week. I had to give myself extra time today."

Starting Monday and throughout the weekday, Brown Line customers will have two choices. Some Brown Line trains will run until the Merchandise Mart, while others will run on the Red Line subway tracks.

The Purple Line express line will not run at all until the work is complete.