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CTA Launches Loop Link Bus Service

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's billed as a faster way to get around downtown and it starts today.

Loop Link buses will begin using the specially constructed lanes and stops but the development follows delays and concerns about costs.

The city says this will ultimately ease congestion and make travel safer for cars, bikes and public transit. After more than a year of construction on the impacted streets you'll finally see those orange barrels gone.

The areas that make up Loop Link are stretches of Washington, Madison, Canal and Clinton.

Essentially those places will have dedicated red lanes for buses. The city says that will make for more reliable and speedier travel across six routes.

But that efficiency comes at the cost of months of traffic gridlock, construction and development missteps.

During development commuters complained about losing two lanes of traffic on some of Chicago's already busiest roadways.

Some lanes were built, then needed to be rebuilt because the CTA demanded wider lanes.

In the past, when we asked CDOT for the project cost, we were told $41 million, which is about $10 million higher than the written estimates released in March. A CDOT spokesperson attributed the overage to design costs.

The design firm that's being paid $10 million for project is run by a former top City Hall official. The firm deferred all our questions to the city.

The city isn't done with the project. Work on the Canal Street part is scheduled to be completed in spring 2016.

The city says more than 1,000 CTA bus trips will traverse the Loop Link each day.

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