Driving MI->SFGAm

Sunday, March 14, 2004 7:46 PM
I know it's early, but planning for CBuzz Con beats working, so...

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***

Sunday, March 14, 2004 8:09 PM
You could always make the drive to Muskegon and take the Badger across the lake to Milwaukee and drive down from there. I believe the service is going to be starting soon.

As for a more realistic answer, I would avoid the Skyway at late afternoon at all costs. Take 294.

Sunday, March 14, 2004 8:12 PM
Take 294 -its not going to be great but much better than the skyway.Chicagoland traffic sucks in general. Add stick shift to the mix what a headache.
Sunday, March 14, 2004 8:34 PM
Right before you decide listen to 780 AM, on the eights (ie 12:08, 12:18, etc.) of every hour they have traffic reports 24 hrs a day. Listen for 94/80 and the tristate for info on the loop route and the skyway, dan ryan inbound, kennedy outbound and edens outbond for the city route.

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***

Sunday, March 14, 2004 9:21 PM
If you can make it to Gurnee before Rush Hour begins, you shouldn't have a problem with 294 unless there's a accident of course. Around 5p.m. on 294 it can get pretty bad once you get near Half Day Road which is about about 20 minutes from the park. If you leave early enough though traffic shouldn't be a problem.
Sunday, March 14, 2004 9:42 PM
To add to coasterdude I dont know if this is feasable for you but the best time to go through Chicago (on the skyway because like you said its shorter and if no delays your best bet) is to hit the city anywhere from 11:30-12:30 on your way north. The express lanes north of the city open northbound around 11:30-12:00 and if you hit them as they open you can crank it up to 75-80 mph most of the way and south of the city is no problem either.

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 ;).

Sunday, March 14, 2004 10:05 PM
Plan on about a 4 hour drive, I have found that traffic is about the same no matter what. Chicago traffic is horrendous.

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.

Sunday, March 14, 2004 10:25 PM
Are you going to the park Friday night? If so, just stick to 294 and don't go near the city...while the tollway WILL suck, there's really no reason to go into the city (unless you wanted to go into the city Friday night rather than going straight to the park).

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? ;)

Sunday, March 14, 2004 10:41 PM
The problem with 294 will actually be at the start. The traffic in Indiana on 80 will be awful a few miles from the border depending on the time you come through. After that you should be pretty good til you hit Ohare.

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.

Sunday, March 14, 2004 10:49 PM
I really can't add much more as everyone has pretty much covered it.

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. :)

Sunday, March 14, 2004 11:14 PM
I find that taking I-94 straight through the city works well enough for me. One freeway, from Detroit to Chicago.

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.

Monday, March 15, 2004 12:49 AM
I live in kalamazoo Mi and when I goto sfgam, I find it easier going through chicago then taking 294. I leave at 8AM eastern time and i get to the park about 9:30-10am centrel time. I kinda speed at spots cause I can't stand driving the 55 mph limit. Gotta drive the 70ish mph. It seems that everytime I get to the split for 294/80 and 94, the 294 is in a traffic jam but 94 is clean sailin till you get to inner chicago and it isnt that bad if you know how to drive defenseivly or just put your foot to floor, :-) thats what I do. Its a nice drive in the morning. At night it is good cause its not as busy as it was in the morning.
Monday, March 15, 2004 1:51 AM
If coming in on friday try leaving in the morning or GOOD LUCK! 80/94 is being widened from I-65 to the 294/94 split. Right now they have 80/94 down to 2 lanes each way between Cline ave ( Gary) and Calumet ave ( last exit b4 IL). Then they are working on it between Torrence and 294/94 split in IL with all new entrance and exit ramps going in. As far as i know the skyway is down or will be to one lane fr bridge work on the Chicago side. *** Edited 3/15/2004 6:56:20 AM UTC by Iggy ACE***
Monday, March 15, 2004 2:20 AM
Well, you do have one thing going for you... you'll be inbound on a Friday evening for the worst parts (Indiana approach). That'll help.

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.

Monday, March 15, 2004 2:55 AM
I live in the city and my girlfriend lives up in the Six Flags neck of the woods. As scary as it may seem, going north on the Edens (94) may not be all that bad. Like someone mentioned above, the traffic might be backed up so bad on 80 --> 294 that it might be better to take the skyway.

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:


Monday, March 15, 2004 1:32 PM

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.....


Monday, March 15, 2004 5:50 PM
Never ever take 294 .. it's so much further, and never quicker unless the skyway is at a complete standstill (which it almost certainly won't be).



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