By Ellen Jean Hirst
6:47 PM CST, February 20, 2013
The Chicago Department of Transportation and the Chicago Transit Authority released a plan Wednesday for Bus Rapid Transit that could save commuters in the Central Loop three to nine minutes on each trip, CTA spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said.
The system is scheduled to begin service in 2014.
“This means more-efficient travel,” Lukidis said. “That was definitely a consideration.”
The Central Loop transit corridor would include bus-priority lanes on two miles of streets on east-west Madison and Washington streets and north-south Canal and Clinton streets.
The system will serve Union Station, Ogilvie Transportation Center, CTA subways and Navy Pier.
More than 1,700 buses are expected to use the corridor every day, carrying more than 47 percent of commuters traveling on those routes, according to CDOT and the CTA.
Other improvements include clearly defined bus lanes, level-boarding, distinct bus shelters and protected bike lanes.
Eastbound Washington will have a bus-only lane, with an island for customers to board the buses, and two automobile lanes. A bike lane on the southern curb will be protected from cars by the bus lane and boarding platforms.
Westbound Madison won’t change other than having its bike lane relocated to westbound Randolph Street, CDOT spokesman Pete Scales said. Madison is five feet narrower than both Randoph and Washington, so it made sense to shift the bike lane, he said.
The project is financed by a $24.6 million Federal Transit Administration grant and $7.3 million in local tax increment financing funds.
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