CHICAGO (STMW) - The Loop Link project officially launched Sunday, and commuters got a chance to experience the new express bus service downtown Monday morning.
The Loop Link provides dedicated lanes for CTA buses, bicycles and regular traffic through downtown on Washington, Madison, Clinton and Canal, according to a joint statement from the mayor’s office, CDOT and the CTA.
The project is expected to speed up service and eliminate bottlenecks on six bus routes, the J14, 20, 56, 60, 124 and 157. A seventh route, the 19, which provides service to and from and the United Center for Bulls and Blackhawks games, will also be affected.
The project includes red bus-only lanes, signs delineating the CTA bus lanes and early traffic signals for buses at key intersections, according to the statement. Protected bike lanes were also added on Washington and Clinton, including a two-way bike lane on Clinton and an eastbound bike lane against the southern curb on Washington. A westbound protected bike lane will be installed on Randolph next year.
Seven new bus stations were also built as part of the project, including large canopies, raised platforms for easier boarding, CTA Bus Tracker screens and more seating for customers. An eighth station on Madison east of Wabash is expected to open in January.
More than 1,000 CTA bus trips are expected to traverse the Loop Link every day.
“Loop Link is about getting Chicagoans from point A to point B quickly but more importantly, safely,” Mayor Emanuel said in the statement.
“With each route, we build a stronger economy by providing access to jobs and a stronger link to our neighborhoods,” according to the statement.
The Canal Street portion of the Loop Link is scheduled to be finished in the spring, according to the statement. Work is also under way on the Union Station Transit Center, a new off-street CTA bus-boarding center south of the train station.