Loop streets reopened, CTA trains running after Friday's high winds

Damaging wind gusts of more than 60 mph across the Chicago area Friday forced several Loop buildings to evacuate and have left more than 50,000 ComEd customers without power.

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - Loop streets have reopened and the CTA is running trains on its Pink and Green lines Saturday afternoon after Friday’s damaging winds blew gusts of more than 60 mph throughout the city.

At its peak, wind gusts of 62 mph were recorded at O’Hare Airport on Friday, with 61 mph gusts reported at Midway Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

Insert a “Windy City” joke of your choice. The winds sent everything from garbage, to construction materials to residents’ own hair flying on Friday.

The heavy winds damaged trees, buildings and power lines, leaving more than 258,000 ComEd customers in Cook, Lake, Will and DuPage counties without power on Friday afternoon. Of those, 14,000 remained without power Saturday morning, according to ComEd.

As of 1 p.m. Saturday, about 3,400 customers remained without power in Chicago, according to Melissa Stratton, spokeswoman for the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

All Loop streets closed Friday due to the winds were reopened Saturday afternoon, she said. However, State Street from Cullerton to 21st remains closed due to debris from an under construction building at 2001 S. State St.

The CTA stopped running Green Line trains between Ashland and Lake and Clark and Lake dafter a utility pole landed on the tracks Friday afternoon. Track debris also halted the Pink Line between Polk and the Loop. Free shuttles were running between the affected stops.

As of 3 p.m. Saturday, the CTA resumed all service on its Pink and Green lines.

At its peak, 279 traffic signals were affected by the winds, Stratton said. Crews were working Saturday to fix those signals.

The city also reported about 250 tree emergencies on Friday. By Saturday morning, there were just 30 remaining.

Debris which fell from a high-rise under construction at 150 N. Riverside and 444 W. Lake Street prompted nearby building evacuations Friday evening.

Police also reported shaky scaffolding the 2000 block of South State; flying roofing material in the 1800 block of West Walnut; and a partial building collapse on West Fulton Street. No one was reported injured, but some vehicles were damaged.

Closed streets on Friday included Wacker from Franklin to Randolph, Lake from Canal to Franklin, Randolph from Canal to Franklin and Couch Place from Franklin to Wacker. Those were all opened Saturday afternoon.

City officials held two on-site meetings with building owners at the Riverside building on Saturday to discuss safety at the building, Stratton said.

Last October, a concrete wall collapsed at the building. A 10-foot-by-10-foot section of metal decking fell from the 21st floor. At the time construction crews had built 24 of the 54 stories planned. No one was injured. Pedestrians were blocked from the Randolph Street Bridge and no cars were allowed on the bridge, which is a popular route to the KennedY Expressway.

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