(Phil Velasquez / Chicago…)
Call it another case of the Blue Line blues.
Just days after the CTA restored Blue Line service between the Rosemont and O'Hare stations following a train crash at O'Hare, the agency shut down service between the Damen and Western stations on the O'Hare line for long-planned work to ease slow zones on that branch.
Blue Line riders were shuttled between the Damen and Western stops and Clark/Lake and Western stations from Friday night to early Monday morning. During that time, officials also closed North Avenue between Milwaukee and Hoyne avenues, prompting a reroute of the No. 72 North buses.
The popular Six Corners intersection this weekend became Ground Zero for shuttle buses, rerouted buses and cars, cyclists and CTA riders—some juggling luggage—hustling to get from the Damen stop to the correct shuttle bus.
Of about 78,500 riders estimated to be affected by the project, the CTA received about a dozen comments via customer service and social media about traffic congestion affecting shuttle bus travel times.
The CTA said it continues to assess traffic routing in the areas of project work. The agency said it plans to post larger, more visible detour signs to indicate alternate routes to motorists.
The $492 million Blue Line reconstruction project continues this weekend with track closure again between the Western and Damen stops from 10 p.m. Friday through 4 a.m. Monday. Shuttle buses will again replace trains in that area.
Going Public rode a shuttle bus Sunday afternoon from the Damen stop to the Western stop and watched traffic near the Damen and Western stops.
The shuttle buses arrived at a regular clip. It took about 11 and a half minutes to deboard the train at the Damen stop, walk to the shuttle bus and ride to the Western stop. The shuttle bus took off almost immediately after GP boarded it.
The CTA said it would take 10 to 15 minutes extra travel time, which is what GP experienced. The problem for some CTA riders, though, is the Damen stop platform is narrow and shuttle bus announcements could have been more clear.
GP found it difficult to navigate the Damen stop platform, especially among riders with luggage. That station does not have an elevator or escalator.
CTA set up shuttles for riders with disabilities or who needed an elevator to stop at each station between the Clark/Lake and Western stations, which are both accessible. Nevertheless, GP observed dozens of riders pulling roller bags down the Damen steps.
Upon leaving the Damen station, there were CTA workers helping show riders the way to the shuttle buses but they could have been more clear telling riders which side of the street was for the shuttles to Clark/Lake and which side was for the Western shuttles.