A guide to Chicagoland expressways
Chicago's traffic reports are often impossible to decipher if you are an out-of-towner. Heck, even some Chicagoans don't even know what the traffic reporters are talking about! This page will hopefully clear up some confusion.
Chicago doesn't refer to directions. Going out of the city is never "north," "south," "east," or "west." Going out of the city is called OUTBOUND. Likewise, heading into the city is INBOUND. For example: The Inbound Kennedy is backed up at Harlem [IL 43]. The Outbound Ike is tight at Austin [Blvd].
US 41 is known as Lake Shore Drive for most of its stay in the city of Chicago and is a mix of expressway and surface street. In the south side of the city, it is called South Shore Drive.
Interstate 55 is the Stevenson Expressway from an ambiguous point south of the Tri-State Tollway to Lake Shore Drive downtown Chicago.
Interstate 57 is officially a part of the Dan Ryan Expressway, but nobody knows this or even cares. So it is just I-57.
Interstate 80 has no designation for most of its ride through southern Chicagoland. But it is a part of the Tri-State Tollway south of the city, and joins I-94 as it becomes the Kingery and Borman Expressways.
Interstate 88 used to be the East-West Tollway for almost 50 years, but in 2004, it was renamed the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway after guess who?
Interstate 90 has four names in the Chicago area. In the suburbs, it is the Northwest Tollway. From O'Hare International Airport to the Loop, it is known as the Kennedy Expressway. From the Loop to the Chicago Skyway, it is the Dan Ryan Expressway. And from the Ryan to the Indiana line, it is the Chicago Skyway.
Interstate 94 has six names in the Chicago area. From the Wisconsin line southward to Northbrook (in the northern suburbs at the Lake-Cook county line), it is part of the Tri-State Tollway. Then it becomes the Edens Expressway until it meets I-90 in Chicago. Then it joins I-90 on the Kennedy Expressway. Then past the Loop, it becomes the Dan Ryan Expressway until I-57. Then it curves around to the Bishop Ford Freeway until Lansing, where it joins I-80 and becomes the Kingery Expressway. In Indiana, the Kingery Expy. becomes the infamous Borman Expy.
Interstate 190 is known by its number.
Interstate 290 is the Eisenhower Expressway east of I-294. It is commonly shortened to "The Ike." West of I-294, it is called the Western Extension. The western extension of the Eisenhower.
Interstate 294 is known as the Tri-State Tollway for its entire length.
Interstate 355 is the North-South Tollway. An extension of the interstate and tollway is being constructed currently.
Illinois 394 is part of the Bishop Ford Freeway, but there usually aren't too many people who need to know that. It is mostly referred to by number.
The Elgin-O'Hare Expressway is unnumbered, although there used to be rumors that it was going to be part of IL 19. Who knows if it will ever get to Elgin or O'Hare? Probably not.
Elgin-O'Hare Expy: unnumbered
Reagan Tollway: I-88
North-South Tollway: I-355
Northwest Tollway: I-90
Tri-State Tollway: I-94, I-294
Kennedy Expy: I-90, I-94
Edens Expy: I-94
Stevenson Expy: I-55
Eisenhower Expy: I-290
Kingery Expy: I-80, I-94
Borman Expy: I-80, I-94
Lake Shore Drive: US 41
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