General Question

JLeslie's avatar

Can you give me the best route through Chicago?

Asked by JLeslie (48221 points ) July 27th, 2011

I will be driving through Chicago, coming from the south on I57 and then continue further north up toward Milwaukee on I94. I will be driving an SUV pulling an open trailer, the trailer has a small sportscar on it. I only describe what I am driving because older interstates sometimes have very tight lanes.

I looked at a map and saw there is a tollway (294) but I was not clear if it is for local people who have electronic passes and possibly you cannot get on with cash? And, when I looked at the Tollway website, there are actually fees for larger vehicles, I don’t know what I classify as? I think of varied pricing as a turnpike not a tollway, so I am unfamiliar with the set up.

Otherwise it looks like taking I94 through downtown is the best direct route, but of course I am concerned about traffic. We will get to Chicago area around 2:00 I think, so should be good for missing lunch traffic or rush hour.

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7 Answers

blueiiznh's avatar

I travel at least once a year from Boston to Twin Cities and back and shy of going through Canada and Lake Michigan I have to go around Chicago.

I would not recommend I-94 at any hour unless you like looking at brake lights. 2am might be ok for I-94 but it is still not as good as other alternatives.

294 has been a better alternative for me. The toll lanes are plenty wide and although it is best for traveling with an IPass or EZPass, you can still use cash. If you have time to get an electronic pass, I highly suggest it.

Traffic patterns are no certainty, so you also may want to check the Illinois Department of Transportation to see what construction projects are going on too for the time you are traveling.

JLeslie's avatar

@blueiiznh That is what I sort of guessed. So the tollway has manned tolls? You don’t need exact change/coins? How often are the tolls? Every 5 miles, 10 miles? And how much does it cost you to get around the city? I will think about getting a pass ahead of time, thanks.

I should have written 2:00 pm.

blueiiznh's avatar

Here is the Illinois Tollway Site
You can drill into each section of the road to see the exit frequency and their construction project schedule.
Here is their kewl Toll Calculator

Cash is always welcome, but an electronic IPass will cut the cost in half (I don’t recall if the multiple state EZPass gets the same discount). If you are going the way of no pass, get a ton of change so you don’t have to deal with manned lanes as they are fewer.

JLeslie's avatar

@blueiiznh Thanks for taking the time to post the links. I actually had looked at the tollway site before posting the question, trying to see if I could figure it out on my own. I have no idea what exit I am entering the highway on and where I am exiting, I could not figure out the exit names to figure the price. I might call if there is an 800 number anyway, because I have to figure out what I would classify as to figure the price. I would assume I have to pay more than the single car price.

I didn’t realize the cost will be cut in half with the pass, that is pretty significant.

SpatzieLover's avatar

An IPass is a must going through Chicago. If you have one, you can fly through at regular speed, if you don’t you’ll be stopping at each toll, and will most likely get caught in the loop for an hour.

At 2pm, you will not hit any rush hour traffic. Once you go through Milwaukee, you still won’t be in rush hour.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover We are going to be in the Elkhart Lake area, if you have any recommendations for restaurants I would love to have them. If your family has any interest in car racing who might want to come out to the track let me know I’ll give you the specifics on PM.

Cruiser's avatar

It all depends on the time of day. I-Passes are nice but you can still pay the toll with cash but it will be double and with the 3rd axel it will be over $2 per toll. Taking 94 is a stright shot and not too bad late night or mid day and won’t cost you a dime.

I don’t have an I-Pass as I hate the big brother aspect of them knowing where you go and how fast you drive…even talk recently of them sending you speeding tickets if you get to the next toll too quickly. Have a safe trip. PM me if you have any further questions.

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