Project completed on time; coordination saved $500,000 and shortened schedule by 8 days
Chicago Transit Authority Brown and Purple Line service resumed early this morning over the Wells Street bridge, as CTA and the Chicago Department of Transportation completed the first phase of the historic bridge’s reconstruction—a huge, complex project finished on time.
Since 10 p.m. Friday, March 1, crews have been working around the clock to replace the south half of the 91-year-old Wells Bridge over the Chicago River. Simultaneous to that work, the CTA has been replacing track and signals just north and south of the bridge, including the intersection of Lake and Wells Streets known as Tower 18, the busiest rail junction in the CTA system.
“In nine days, the first portion of this project is complete, and the city takes another huge step forward in revitalizing its infrastructure for the future,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who joined CTA President Forrest Claypool and CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein shortly after CTA trains began crossing the newly constructed bridge section. “Our infrastructure is the lifeblood of our city and this project is a great example of the value of investing in our infrastructure to help drive our economy and keep our people moving.”
As with all of the city’s large-scale reconstruction projects, CTA and CDOT closely coordinated the schedule and phasing of the two projects to achieve the greatest efficiencies. Doing the work together saved taxpayers $500,000 and reduced the duration of the project by eight days.
For the last nine days, Brown and Purple Line trains that normally travel over the Wells Bridge were rerouted. “We appreciate the patience of our riders during the project,” Claypool said, noting that the CTA put in place extensive alternative service to make sure customers had as many commuting options as possible.
Since March 1, CTA offered Brown Line trains traveling in the Red Line subway, free shuttle buses from the Chicago Brown Line station to the Loop, and a free Loop shuttle train serving downtown ‘L’ stations. As of 4 a.m. today, all rail and bus service had returned to normal schedules.
The bridge remains closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic through late this year, as CDOT crews rebuild the north leaf of the bridge and restore the bridgehouses, roadway and sidewalks. “This is a great opportunity to restore the historic Wells Street bridge and extend its life for several more decades,” said Commissioner Klein.
CTA and CDOT officials said the positive experiences of this project will be applied to Phase 2 of the project, set for April 26-May 6. As with the first phase, CTA plans the same alternative service and will launch another extensive outreach effort prior to the start of work.
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