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Wells Street Bridge Construction Ends

By  Erica Demarest and Emily Morris | May 6, 2013 8:44am | Updated on May 6, 2013 11:24am

 The Wells Street Bridge over the Chicago River
The Wells Street Bridge over the Chicago River
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Getty Images/Tim Boyle

DOWNTOWN — Commuters can rejoice now that the second phase of the Wells Street Bridge construction has come to a much-anticipated end.

The construction closed the bridge over the Chicago River to traffic and rerouted CTA "L" trains and buses from April 26 until early Monday, causing delays and headaches for travelers.

Normal service resumed Monday morning.

When one commuter walked into the Merchandise Mart station and learned the Brown Line was running normally again, she put her hands up in the air and shouted "Yes!"

“We appreciate our customers’ patience during this major project,” CTA President Forrest Claypool said. “Coordinating CTA track work with the city’s bridge reconstruction ultimately creates a safer, more reliable infrastructure that benefits all Chicagoans.”

The city renovated the nearly century-old bridge, replaced tracks and rebuilt the Loop "L" junction at Lake and Wells streets during the two phases, the first of which took place from March 2 to March 10.

During the renovations, commuters navigated multiple "L" closures and took shuttle buses or alternate routes. Brown and Purple lines were mainly affected.

"It's been a real pain in the a--" said Damian Hawcroft, who takes the Purple Line to work daily. Hawcroft said he's happy to see the construction is over, because it added about 15 minutes to his commute every morning. 

Commuter Stuart Brody, who takes the Brown Line, had to make the longer trek to work on crutches because of his hip surgery.

"It essentially only added an extra two-block walk to my commute," Brody said. "But on crutches it sucked."

Brody said he thought the CTA did a good job communicating to customers about the closures.

"They were very conscientious about letting people know what their options were," Brody said. "The fact that the bridge opened on time — hello? That doesn't happen."

Next up in CTA renovations is a major overhaul of the Red Line on the South Side, which is slated to begin later this month.