The only bad thing about our short trip to Chicago this weekend was our use of the Chicago Skyway. Coming or going, it blows. I thought the inaccurately named Dan Ryan “Expressway” was bad — so bad that if I were Dan Ryan, I’d ask that my name be removed from that sorry, always-under-repair stretch of Chicago roadway — but I would take the Dan Ryan 10 times out of 10 against the Chicago Skyway.
For the uninitiated, the Chicago Skyway and the Dan Ryan Expressway are the two ways to get to Chicago from northern Indiana. The Dan Ryan is a freeway, the Chicago Skyway is a toll road. You’d think that would mean that the Skyway would be a better driving experience — better road, faster, and so forth. That makes sense . . . but it would be wrong. In fact, the road conditions from Chicago to the I-65 turnoff just east of Gary are miserable. And, because you have to go through three separate toll stops, it’s clearly slower even than the orange barrel-filled Dan Ryan Expressway — to say nothing of costing almost $8. What does the money go for? Beats me! My shock absorbers would say it’s certainly not used for road repair.
It’s also obviously not used for toll booth employees or upkeep. Today we were infuriated because only two of six toll booths at the final turnoff were taking cash or credit card. Three lanes were reserved for E-ZPass — which is irritating in its own right — and one was closed for unknown reasons. Of course, there were long lines in the two cash/credit lanes, which were made all the worse by the fact that rather than a toll booth employee, we had to pay a machine, and the machine didn’t tell you how much you owed. It was scrambled, and the screen showed nothing but gibberish, like this: ###%^**##. So, what to pay? Not surprisingly, it took us forever to get past the toll booth. It was like some satanic trick: just as we were celebrating escaping the Chicago Skyway once and for all, a final bit of ineptitude trapped us in toll booth hell. What idiot allowed this to happen?
If Chicago wants to improve its image, the Skyway would be a good place to start.