The Chicago Skyway Blows

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.

IMG_2373For 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.

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So Long, Chicago

As Richard moves west to Missouri to begin a new chapter, we’ll also be saying so long to Chicago as a regular destination point.

For years now, while Richard attended Northwestern and worked as a tutor in local public schools, we’ve been visiting Chicago periodically.  It is a great world city, and the jewel of the American Midwest.  We’ve enjoyed its impressive skyline, fine restaurants, and grand parks and public spaces.  I’ve also been impressed by Chicago’s focus on preserving and celebrating the proud ethnicity of its people; like New York City, it is one of the places where the concept of the American “melting pot” — in which people of different ethnic backgrounds are tossed into the cauldron, and something new and different and interesting is produced — really seems to have occurred.  Chicago has its problems, like lots of murders and a political culture with a history of corruption, but for us it will always be a place with many fine memories.

The only thing I won’t miss about Chicago is the ridiculous traffic.  No matter when we’ve come here, and what odd hour has marked our arrival, we’ve always been snarled in bumper-to-bumper traffic jams on the Dan Ryan Expressway.  If I were Dan Ryan, I’d ask that my name be removed from that godforsaken stretch of highway.