CTA riders warned: 9-day Wells Bridge shutdown begins - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

CTA riders warned: 9-day Wells Bridge shutdown begins

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The word is out. Wells Bridge already had its own Twitter hashtag (#WellsBridge) long before its scheduled nine-day shut down for reconstruction.

But despite all the attention, commuters like Keturah Brown still anticipate a dose of inconvenience.

"It's going to be a commuter nightmare coming here in the morning, getting off of the Metra, which is normally a smooth commute," Keturah Brown said. "But to get here and then have to get off at Clark and Lake and walk, and then the cold weather, it's going to be extremely inconvenient. But I'm prepared. We got all the notices so I'm prepared."

Both decks of the 90-year-old Wells Street Bridge will close for reconstruction Friday at 10 p.m. and will not reopen until the morning of Monday, March 11. A whopping 77,000 one-way trips are made every day across that bridge, over the Chicago River.

Brown and Purple Line riders heading downtown will bear the brunt of the inconvenience, though the Chicago Transit Authority will provide free shuttle buses from the Brown Line station at Chicago and a free Loop shuttle train. They will join pedestrians and drivers who have been detoured by the closure of bridge's street-level deck since Nov. 5.

The CTA is warning commuters to get ready for crowded train cars and less frequent service.

"But it doesn't matter because as it is right now, it's already packed with a lot of people on both sides," Brown said. "Who cares about the shuttles? That's not a factor at this point."

During the week, the inbound Purple Line will be suspended. For North Side Brown Line users, one of every three inbound trains will end at the Merchandise Mart. Two of three will switch over to Red Line tracks after Fullerton and make Red Line stops, but only until Roosevelt.

Weekend rerouting is even more mind-numbing, because it affects four different train lines that will be disrupted by additional work on the main elevated entry way into the Loop – at Lake and Wells — as well as replacement of tracks in the curve at Hubbard and Kinzie.

Plus, two consecutive weekends of work on the system's busiest rail junction — at Lake and Wells — will begin Saturday. Those affected: Brown, Green, Pink and Orange line passengers.

For more information on closures and alternative options, visit the CTA's Wells Bridge page.

The message from the CTA is "Leave early. Leave late. Use alternatives,'' said spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski.

The weekday work means Gilbert Morgan, a Loop restaurant manager, will have to take a shuttle as well as a Brown Line train to get home from work. But Morgan said what really frustrates him is that the disruption comes only two months after the CTA increased the cost of his 30-day pass from $86 to $100.

"They should have waited until the work was done,'' Morgan said. "I've been inconvenienced twice ­­— higher fares and no train service.''

Chicago attorney Richard Gleason, who will be switching from the Purple Line to Metra temporarily, is shrugging off the inconvenience in exchange for safety.

"There will be headaches, but they probably have to fix the bridge," Gleason said. "I'd rather have it safe than not operating. I think it's great they found the money to fix it.''

Another nine-day shutdown awaits travelers starting April 26.

During each work cycle, a different half of the Wells Street bridge will be floated down the Chicago River to Wells Street for installation.

The project amounts to "an incredible feat of engineering,'' said Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein. In the end, Klein said, the 18 total days of commuter pain should breathe an additional 50 years of life into the Wells Street Bridge.

"Why now? The CTA is coordinating its construction with the city's construction of the Wells Street Bridge. By combining the two projects, the two agencies are saving about $500,000," CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. "More importantly, we're able to shave about eight days off of the time it would take CTA to do the work by itself."

While CTA saves time and money, Noel Landeros said he'll break even the next nine days.

"It will probably come out to the same, honestly," Landeros said. "Instead of having the inconvenience of getting off on the Brown Line - which is connected here now - I'll have to walk from Clark and Lake and just take one less train. But it will be ok."

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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