Chicago's busiest bus route to receive upgrades for faster commutes

Construction is set to begin this week on new dedicated bus-only lanes along one of Chicago's most popular travel routes, transportation officials announced on Tuesday.

The new bus-only lanes on the #66 Chicago Avenue route aim to improve bus reliability and reduce travel time for riders on one of the city's busiest corridors, according to a statement from the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will begin installing new red-bus only lanes on Chicago Avenue between Sangamon Street and Larrabee Street, as it nears completion of new bus priority lanes between Grand Avenue and Campbell Avenue, the statement said.

"The 66 Chicago Avenue route is one of our most frequent and most heavily utilized, providing roughly 17,000 rides on an average weekday, and our ability to efficiently move riders along that corridor is critical to connecting communities on the east and west sides of the city," CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. said in the statement. "This latest addition builds on years of improvements made to this route, cumulatively speeding up average travel times by several minutes."

Two eastbound No. 66 Chicago Avenue buses approach the Milwaukee Avenue stop on Oct. 24, 2018, in Chicago. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune / Getty Images)

Once completed, the new bus-only lanes will provide nearly 3.9 miles of uninterrupted space for CTA buses, running from Grand to Ashland and from Milwaukee to Michigan Avenue. Officials said that 40% of the #66 Chicago Avenue route will include a bus lane after the latest addition.

Transportation officials noted about half a mile of Chicago Avenue will feature new bus-only lanes, which will be marked with red paint. The designation will remain in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to city officials.