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City Begins Work On Bus Rapid Transit Lanes In The Loop

CHICAGO (CBS) -- City officials were warning of increased traffic delays in the Loop beginning Monday, as work begins on the so-called "Loop Link" project to provide faster bus service from Union Station to Millennium Station.

The $32 million "bus rapid transit" project is designed to make bus travel safer and faster for approximately 30,000 commuters when it's complete.

The Loop Link project will turn Washington and Madison streets into faster routes for CTA buses traveling between Union Station and Millennium Station, by creating bus-only lanes with raised platforms where passengers will board and disembark.

Cars and trucks will share two lanes on Madison, Washington, Canal, and Clinton streets. Buses and bicycles will share the remaining space, which will include protected bike lanes, and long canopies at bus stops. Raised bus platforms will allow easier and safer boarding for bus passengers.

CTA buses also will get early green lights at seven intersections to keep cars and trucks from weaving in and out of traffic to avoid buses.

"Congestion has been a problem that's plagued the downtown for decades, and we're finally moving forward with some real improvements that are going to address the congestion issues, and provide more high-capacity transit options across the Loop," Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld.

The first phase of the project started Monday morning, when westbound Madison Street was reduced to only two lanes between State and Clark streets; and southbound Clinton Street was reduced to two lanes between Randolph Street and Jackson Boulevard during weekday business hours. There will be additional lane closures overnight and on weekends.

Businesses located along the streets that will be torn up for the Loop will also be able to make upgrades to underground communications systems, or water and sewer systems, or other underground infrastructure while the project is underway.

The project is scheduled to be completed in December.

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