CTA service changes for Wells St. bridge closure promise some long commutes

CTA service changes for Wells St. bridge closure promise some long commutes
CTA photo

I figured the CTA commute would be rough during the two nine-day periods that the Wells Street Bridge is closed to CTA traffic, but it looks like it could be worse than I thought.

The CTA announced its service plan for the bridge closure March 1 to March 11, and April 26 to May 6. And any time the CTA pulls out the headline "Leave early or late, use alternatives" - you know it will be bad. (The last time was during the North Side "three-tracking project.)

Here's the deal. For AM-PM rush period service  (6 to 1 a.m. and 2 to 7 p.m.):

  • There will be no Purple Line Express service. The Purple Line will stop at Howard and regular users of the express train will have to board a Red Line.
  • One of every three southbound Brown Line trains will terminate service at the Merchandise Mart. There will be a free shuttle bus from the Chicago Avenue station to the Clark/Lake and Washington/Wells stations.
  •  The remaining two-thirds of southbound Brown Line trains will travel through the Red Line subway tunnel, with Brown Line service ending at Roosevelt.
  •  There will be a free Loop shuttle train to assist Brown Line riders who exit another train in the Loop. It will run from about 4:30 a.m. to about 1:30 a.m.
  • The CTA also will add temporary weekday bus service to the peak travel directions during the AM and PM rush periods along the #37 Sedgwick route. Some of this additional service will be put in as a temporary deviation to the route with service starting at the Armitage Brown Line station (via “#37A Sedgwick/Armitage” buses) and then connect to North/Clybourn Red Line Station and resume the regular #37 route at North and Sedgwick. The #37 extends south into the Loop to the Clinton Blue Line stop. Additional service will also be added to the #37 Sedgwick route starting/ending at Fullerton.
  • Additional bus service also will be added to other existing bus routes: #22 Clark AM/PM rush; #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express and #147 Outer Drive Express PM rush only.

Meanwhile, at the same time as the bridge closures, the CTA will rebuild the ‘L’ structure track junction at Lake and Wells Streets, also known as Tower 18, and replace tracks in the curves at Hubbard and Kinzie, just north of the Merchandise Mart. Tower 18 is the busiest junction on the CTA 'L' system and the main elevated line entryway into the Loop from the north, with 5 of 8 rail lines passing through every weekday. This junction handles nearly 700 trains a day and nearly 500 on the average weekend.

This work is part of the $33.8 million Loop Track Renewal project launched in March 2012. By performing the work while CDOT completes the Wells bridge repairs, CTA says it will reduce the duration of the work by eight days. Additionally, combining the work will save CDOT and CTA $500,000 in construction coordination costs.


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  • At least for Mike's benefit, Rahm and Forrest will be able to try this out on their own neighbors (maybe themselves, but I wouldn't buy that) for a couple of weeks before inflicting it on the South Side.

    The "1/3 of the trains go through the subway, but only sometime" seems too confusing to me.

  • "Fasten your Seatbelts everyone -- it's going to be a bumpy night"

  • No worries. I will just take the Wilson Express downtown instead. Oh wait, that won't work. Or maybe just hop on the Lincoln bus and ride it all the way downtown. Oh wait, that won't work.

  • In reply to greenecity:

    Maybe you can join Forrest on the 22 Clark.

    I had made the comment on chicagobus.org after some claimed retired employee said he had secret exclusive information that the Purple Line wasn't going to run past Howard to the effect of "what was it going to do, fly over the bridge like the Ford Fusion," which he somehow thought was serious and started a flame war over. So, maybe you have that alternative.

  • In reply to greenecity:

    BTW, given the picture at the top of the page, they aren't going to be filming a new opening sequence for Good Times or The Bob Newhart Show for the next couple of weeks. Anyone got a newer example?

  • In reply to jack:

    It can't be THAT old. Sure looks like an 8-car consist in the picture.

  • In reply to JohnT:

    My reference was to a newer TV show.

  • Not too many(including here) are reporting the other part of combined shutdowns that will close the Pink & Green lines between Clinton & Clark/Lake, the Pink from Washington/Wells to Clinton, with Orange turning back at Washington/Wells, Green turning back at Adams/Wabash with a Shuttle train from Adams/Wabash to Clark/Lake. This occurs Friday at 10pm through Sunday night/Monday morning on all 4 weekends that are part of the above mentioned 2 9-day shutdowns.

  • In reply to JohnT:

    I guess that's part of "we'll rip up Tower 18 junction while the bridge is up." I was wondering how they were going to run a Loop Shuttle, but I guess not at those times.

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