Although Barbara and I have no current plans to visit Chicago any time soon, I read with great interest about a round of new highway construction coming to the Jane Byrne Interchange. That interchange is notoriously congested – it’s where the Dan Ryan Expressway (Interstates 90/94) and the Eisenhower Expressway (Interstate 55) come together just southwest of downtown Chicago. Barbara and I have plenty of memories,…er nightmares of rolling into Chicago on the “Damn Ryan” (as many locals called it with disdain) for many years on both business and pleasure trips into the city and having to deal with the congestion.
I read articles online in either the Chicago Sun-Times or Chicago Tribune to stay abreast of what’s happening in one of the cities we still have love for, even after nearly 20 years of being away from it. To us the city remains a special place. We were there last in 2011 for a couple of days in July and we had a blast just like the old times.
Very much like New York City, Chi-town is a place where one should park the car and depend on public transportation as much as possible, especially the train. It’s more practical and usually leads to less frustration with traffic congestion, and expensive parking. Yes, it costs money to travel by public transportation and you usually end up walking a lot BUT it sure beats sitting on one of the “expressways” in ungodly heavy traffic. Speaking of ironies, from our experience, seldom was the Dan Ryan an “expressway”. Mostly it was a slow crawl or worse a complete stop and go commute into downtown Chicago and the Jane Byrne Interchange was a major factor in the mess back then (I have no clue as to whether it ever got better, in 2011 we parked our car and took public trans everywhere we went).
Barbara had a job in the Loop most of our seven years in the Chicago land area and most of the time she smartly took the Metra Train to and from work. Occasionally she had to drive instead in order to meet clients in their homes and on those days she absolutely dreaded the commute. As for me, when I did my six month stint at Kraft’s headquarters in Northfield (a far north suburb) I had to choose my poison everyday – whether to take the “Damn Ryan” in and beyond, or to take the Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294). Either way it was a 90 minute commute (52 miles) on a good day from our home in the south suburbs. I hated the drive but enjoyed working at Northfield.
So when I read about the upcoming construction of flyovers for the Jane Byrne Interchange and how traffic will come to a near standstill for over a year and a half I just laughed to myself and said OMG! The flyovers will definitely help in easing congestion but my goodness it will be a mess and a half for a long while. I thought that if for some reason we get a chance to visit Chicago between now and mid 2016 there will be absolutely no driving in if we can help it, nope none at all!