Eyes on the Street: The Loop Link BRT Corridor Continues to Take Shape


Washington Street west of Franklin Street. Photo: John Greenfield

The Loop Link bus rapid transit route, slated to be largely complete by New Year’s Day, seems to be moving along nicely.

As I’ve discussed, some of the project’s features have been reduced, modified, or delayed. We’re not getting transit signal priority, truly level boarding, or enclosed bus stations, and the pilot of prepaid boarding will be delayed until next year. But we are getting limited stops, dedicated bus lanes, queue jumps, near-level boarding, and extra-long shelters with lots of seating, and we’ll eventually be getting prepaid boarding at all stations. As such, Loop Link should demonstrate some of the benefits of BRT and help build support for a more robust BRT system on Ashland Avenue.

Recently, crews installed green thermoplastic and bike symbols in the eastbound curbside protected bike lane that has been constructed on Washington Street along with the island bus stops and giant bus shelters, each averaging about 90 feet long and 14 feet high. A two-way, north-south PBL is largely complete on Clinton Street, and a westbound protected lane will eventually be installed on Randolph Street.


A crew installs pavers on the platform of a bus stop on Washington east of State. Photo: John Greenfield

When I stopped by yesterday, I saw that the platforms are also taking shape, as workers install pavers and tactile warning strips at the edge of the platforms — similar to those at ‘L’ stations. Underneath the pavers are electric heating coils, which will help keep the bus stops clear of snow this winter.


Tactile warning strips are being added to the edge of the bus platforms. Photo: John Greenfield

Seating will run almost the entire length of the shelters, so just about everyone who wants to will be able to take a load off. Wooden benches are already in at some of the stops, with metal dividers to discourage people from sleeping or skateboarding on them.


The view from inside a shelter. Photo: John Greenfield

As part of the project, Right turns for motorists will be banned at four locations: Washington onto LaSalle Street, Madison onto Dearborn Street, Madison onto Wacker Drive and Jackson Boulevard onto Canal Street. I noticed a right-turn lane that crosses the red bus lane on Washington is taking shape at Wells.


The turn lane at Wells. Photo: John Greenfield

There’s also a special turn lane for a parking garage on Washington just east of Wells. Presumably, all garages along Washington and Madison will get a similar treatment.


A turn lane for a parking garage. Photo: John Greenfield

Don’t tell CDOT, but I took a spin on several segments of the Washington PBL, although they’re not actually open to the public yet. Here’s some video to prove it. The first clip is the block west of Franklin; the second is the block west of State.

You’ll notice that some portions of the bike lane are protected with closely spaced flexible posts, rather than concrete. Hopefully, the protection on these sections will eventually be upgraded to curbs, not only to improve safety for cyclists, but also to improve the aesthetics of what could turn out to be a marquee transportation project.