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.