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L riders adjust to rerouted travel even as snow complicates travel

Workers prepare old bridge be fitted with new during reconstructiWells Street Bridge downtown Chicago. Monday March 4 2013 | Brian

Workers prepare the old bridge to be fitted with the new, during the reconstruction of the Wells Street Bridge in downtown Chicago. Monday, March 4, 2013 | Brian Jackson~ Sun-Times

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Updated: April 7, 2013 1:27PM



There were hiccups, but Day Two of rush-hour CTA reroutes went more smoothly Tuesday afternoon thanks to many riders taking time to prepare — even as the city took on the appearance of a snow globe.

Many heeded advice to leave early or stay late , and some Loop workers’ bosses set them free by 3 p.m. as snow blanketed the streets.

Mel Catama stood covered in snow near the Washington and Wells station, waiting for a shuttle to take him to the Chicago Brown Line. He boarded at 3:11 p.m., then was told to switch shuttles at 3:17 p.m. CTA employees announced each shuttle, answered questions and even helped riders get off the buses as large amounts of slush and snow blocked the way to the street.

By 3:25 p.m., Catama, 34, was at the station, bypassing the Wells Street Bridge.

“Like any other Chicagoan, I know you wake up early when it snows,” Catama said. “And my boss let me leave work early. I’m thankful. I’m not complaining.”

Others were a bit upset about the added burden of trudging in the snow while dealing with the reroutes.

“I usually get on at Chicago and Franklin, but now I have to walk five blocks, instead of the train just dropping me off at Madison and Wabash,” said a Secretary of State’s office employee who did not want to be named.

She was late for work on Monday, but came prepared on Tuesday: “I left 30 minutes earlier,” she said.

A trip from Washington and Wells to Southport took 50 minutes Tuesday afternoon. That included two shuttle bus rides and a 15-minute wait for a northbound train at the Chicago stop.

Riders who didn’t have to bypass the Wells Street Bridge had it easy.

“MerchMart to Southport on Brown = 20 mins just now,” Diane Cannon tweeted.

Cannon arrived at work about 20 minutes late Tuesday morning because her southbound train was stalled at the Chicago Brown Line station. Several other riders noted the same delay.

The reason?

“The longer-than-usual standing times during rush hours at the Chicago station are part of the complex reroute operations in place for this week,” CTA spokesman Brian Steele said in an email. “Before a train can proceed south to the Mart, it has to wait for trains already at the Mart to come back northbound.”

Northbound trains switch from the southbound tracks just north of Hubbard’s Curve, near Illinois Street, he said.

Cannon had full knowledge of the switch. She can see it from her office on the second floor of the Merchandise Mart. Her boss also has a full view.

“Since we look at the madness, my boss just said. ‘You poor thing,’ when I walked in late,” Cannon said.

The CTA says it had corrected some issues that had caused confusion on Monday. All Brown Lines trains now have the correct signs indicating whether the train is heading to the Red Line subway or to Merchandise Mart. Red decals were added to sides of train to help customers. And more announcements were being made by bus and train operators at each stop.

The bridge should reopen to rail traffic on Monday, March 11. But another nine-day shutdown will start April 26, when the second half of the bridge will be replaced.



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