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Emanuel will join Brown Line riders in detours during bridge closing

Gabe Kle(Chicago Department TransportatiC.D.O.T. Commissioner)  Mayor Rahm Emanuel Forrest Claypool (President Chicago Transit Authority) arrive  press conference about

Gabe Klein (Chicago Department of Transportation C.D.O.T. Commissioner), Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Forrest Claypool (President of Chicago Transit Authority) arrive at a press conference about work being done on replacing the old Wells Street Bridge in Chicago. Photographed on on Sunday, March 3, 2013. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: April 5, 2013 6:24AM

CTA riders: Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he will share your pain.

The mayor usually takes the Brown Line from his Ravenswood home to work twice a week.

On those days this week, he will have to find alternatives to get to City Hall.

Bridge and track work on Wells Street began Friday and will last through March 10.

Simultaneously, CTA will rebuild the Loop L junction at Lake and Wells and replace track at the curve over Hubbard Street between Wells and Franklin.

“It’s going to be an inconvenience, you can’t spin your way out of this,” Emanuel said at a news conference Sunday on the Brown Line platform at the Merchandise Mart.

The mayor said he will “work it out” like other riders who make the usual 77,000 one-way trips a day over the Chicago River.

The south section of the 91-year-old Wells Street Bridge is being replaced now. The north section will be replaced between April 26 and May 5.

Emanuel said combining the track and bridge projects saved the city $500,000 and shaved eight days off the construction time. In the past, the Chicago Department of Transportation would have replaced the bridge and CTA would have repaired the track several years later, the mayor said.

“This is about building a new Chicago,” Emanuel said, noting that $4 billion in CTA projects are under way or on the drawing board.

That includes the shutdown of nine Red Line stations from 95th to Cermak from May 19 to Oct. 19 to overhaul the Red Line track on the South Side.

During the Wells Street Bridge project, weekday southbound Brown Line trains will alternate between terminating at the Merchandise Mart or continuing into the Loop through the State Street subway. Bus shuttles will be available at the Chicago Avenue rail stop and there will be special service on the Loop L.

Purple Line trains will not run south of Howard.

On weekends, the Brown, Pink, Green and Orange lines will all have detours because of the project.

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