Driving Advice

Any reader here familiar with the highways south of Chicago?

With in-laws in Des Moines and Iowa, I’ve travelled back and forth between these two cities and Kitchener, Ontario quite often. The trip has gotten so familiar that it’s a comfortable outing. We’ve been blessed with a fast and direct route, using Ontario Highways 401 and 402 before transferring to Interstates 69, 94 and finally 80. All of these routes are fast, and the trip through Michigan is easy and scenic. There’s just one problem: Chicago.

From just after I-94 joins I-80, traffic increases dramatically, even though we are in a whole separate state from Chicago. Our speeds shoot down and our blood pressures shoot up. It could be worse: we could be taking I-90 through Chicago to access Wisconsin and Minnesota (never do that if you can help it), but it would be nice if we could avoid Chicago traffic altogether. The Interstates have a bottleneck here. I-94 meets up with I-80 and I-90. There is no southern bypass via Interstate, unless you’re willing to divert to Indianapolis. And that would be just silly.

However, I notice that if we strike south on I-65, and get off on US Highway 30, we can proceed several miles south of congested I-80, and rejoin the highway near Joliet.

Amazingly, the terrain of US-30 appears to be quite urban. We pass through or near the satellite communities of New Lennox, Frankfort, Olympia Fields and Chicago Heights. However, a moderately fast and congestion free country highway could still save us time over a congested Interstate. The alternate route is only eight kilometres longer (68.71 km versus 60.4 km on the Interstate, according to Google Pedometer).

So, diversion: worth it?

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