For the Chicago natives (Chitown): if I'm coming from around the lake on a Friday afternoon/evening, would you recommend the Skyway (and through the city) or 294 (and around it). The Skyway route seems to be shorter, but I've done it once and am hoping the answer is "294 is much less congested".
The same question, in reverse, for a mid-day Sunday. *** Edited 3/15/2004 12:47:20 AM UTC by Brian Noble***
As for a more realistic answer, I would avoid the Skyway at late afternoon at all costs. Take 294.
I have to unfortunatly make that trip way to many times each year (go to school in IN live in WI) and 90% of the time the skyway is quicker. I know its under construction, but so is 94/80. For example just did the trip this Thursday, 94/80 had been backed up for hours and the skyway was smooth sailing. I only lost about 15 mins and that was due to congestion on the kennedy, not the skyway. *** Edited 3/15/2004 1:37:18 AM UTC by Touchdown***
Obviously going south you want to make sure you get the express lanes north of the city still going southbound so you want to hit those slightly earlier (I believe they still change at the same time, not sure on that one though).
Whatever you do be sure to listen to 780, and remember you are likely to get stuck on either road and you might as well get stuck looking at pretty buildings regardless ;).
The skyway os slow but I have found it is faster then going around the city.
I have also found that taking Lakeshore Drive can be quicker then the Ryan sometimes.
Anyway you shake plan on a 4 hour drive plus you gain an hour.
Going back on Sunday, I would come back down thru the city - traffic shouldn't be bad on either route, so why not enjoy the skyline of Chicago on your way out of town? ;)
By taking the Skyway you will bypass the first problem as the traffic will be leaving the city. Once you start heading north out of the city that will be another problem.
Basically if you get through Chicago by at least 2:00 it shouldn't be unbearable no matter which way you take.
I would try to get to the Illinois border as early as you can in the afternoon. After 3 pm and you will run into some heavy traffic regardless.
Give yourself some time and good luck. :)
I wanted to clarify about the fairy. The Badger actually ports in Ludington, MI and Manitowoc, WI. Manitowoc is about 80 miles or so north of Milwaukee, and is actually closer to Green Bay. It would not be economical to take the fairy unless one was traveling from mid-michigan or north to Gurnee, IL. However, I would recommend it as something to do once for the experience.
Still, you're basically screwed. I'm afraid your "I've done it once and am hoping the answer is '294's much less congested?'" hopes are in vain. The only road in Chicago that might be more congested than 294 is the Dan Ryan. Afternoon/evening is the worst time to be on the highways, I think (even more so than morning). While I rarley recomend The Ryan, the Skyway/Ryan could be your best bet at that time. I would, however, like to clarify that Chicago traffic is not horrendous. It is typical city traffic for rush-hour: bumber to bumber, often at a stand still. And with the times you've stated, you're bound to run into some of it(probably more than that). But it's nothing compared to some stuff I've seen out east.
If you could plan your trip for late evening or morning, you might gain some time using 294. In my experience, the Ryan's clear for about three hours, from one to four A. M (if you're lucky), while the Tristate is pretty clear for most of the A. M. and night. However, 80-94 is always a mess, and pockets (around O'Hare or form accidents) can kill all the extra time you might have saved. Bottom line: No matter what you do, listen to the radio.
Allong with radio 780, 720 has traffic on the quaters of the hours and 530/1610 is the I-Dot traffic radio (with a pretty bad signal). If you have someone that has internet access you can call, the chicago traffic congestion map can be found here:
I used to live in Milford, MI and drove to Milwaukee through Chicago every weekend for about a year and a half when I was dating my wife.
Coming from AA, you should be able to reach the Skyway or Tri-State Tollway decision split in approximately three hours (MI = 171 miles from 94/M14 split to border, IN = 29 miles from border to exit 16 for the Skyway --- figure 60mph avg.). It's another 25 miles from that split until you merge back in south of downtown.
As Chitown said, as long as you hit downtown before 3pm (local time), you're better off going through town. Afterwards, it pretty much becomes a crap shoot until about 7pm when things start to clear a bit. With no traffic at all, the Skyway/downtown route saves you at least half an hour.
My old rule of thumb was that I'd make sure I left Milford by 12:00pm, or I wouldn't bother getting out early and just leave at 5:00.
If you really want detail, e-mail me and I can tell you which lanes to stay in, in which sections. Proper lane choice downtown can save you 5-10 minutes. Hope this helps.....
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