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Wells Street Bridge ready for CTA L riders Monday morning

Constructicontinues Wells Street Bridge Friday. Butt CTA L service resumes Monday morning. Street-level traffic will remaclosed until November.  |

Construction continues on the Wells Street Bridge on Friday. Butt CTA L service resumes Monday morning. Street-level traffic will remain closed until November. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 12, 2013 6:14AM

The rumble of CTA L cars over the Wells Street Bridge resumed Monday in time for Purple and Brown Line riders to return to normal rush-hour schedules.

Nine days of work replacing the 500,000-pound southern half of the 90-year-old bridge ended early Monday.

But Chicago travelers are not in the clear yet: Replacement of the north half of the bridge — listed as “basically intolerable” structurally in a 2012 National Bridge Inventory ­­— will shut it down the for a second nine-day period starting at 10 p.m. Friday, April 26. Once again, during that time, Purple Line Express trains will be suspended, and only one of every three Brown Line trains leaving Fullerton for the Loop will end at the Merchandise Mart. Two of every three will switch to Red Line tracks and make Red Line stops through Roosevelt.

Meanwhile, the street-level portion of the double-decker bridge will be closed to foot and car traffic until November.

Over the weekend, bridge observers were greeted by a structure that was half gray — the new section — and half red — the original section.

Sometime this summer, after the north half of the bridge is replaced, the entire structure will be painted its “historic red color,’’ Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Peter Scales said.

Even Mayor Rahm Emanuel warned that commuters would be inconvenienced by the sorely needed bridge work. Although some commuters said they were barely affected, others complained of delays, confusing CTA signs and crowded train cars during the initial days of this month’s nine-day shutdown.

Josie Fritz, a 28-year-old bank manager, said being forced to switch from the Purple to the Brown Line was “annoying.” The CTA should have discounted fares for the inconvenience it caused passengers, Fritz said.

But in the end, Fritz said, “If the bridge isn’t going to fall in the river, it’s worth it.’’

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