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Wells Street Bridge to close for overnight testing

The Wells and LaSalle Street bridges lift to allow sailboats to pass on June 11, 2011. | Sun-Times file photo

The Wells Street Bridge over the Chicago River will be closed for testing early Sunday as the city prepares for the spring boating season.

The bridge will be closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic from midnight to 5 a.m. Sunday, according to a statement from the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Traffic will be rerouted via Kinzie Street, LaSalle Street, and Wacker Drive to cross the river and return to Wells, CDOT said.

The testing is part of CDOT’s preparation for spring boat season. The department started testing bridges along the river length last month to ensure that they’re ready for the weekly bridge lifts that start in the spring.

Every spring and fall, workers raise the movable bridges along the Main and South branches of the river on Saturdays and Wednesdays to accommodate recreational boats traveling to and from the storage yards.

The process is called a “boat run,” and it involves raising all 27 bridges between Ashland and Lake Shore Drive sequentially, usually one at a time. Each bridge lift takes an average of 8-12 minutes.