Listening to a traffic report in Chicago is like hearing a MCSE professional talk about firewalls and proxy servers. You somehow know that what’s being said is important and you should know what it is, but he or she might as well be speaking in binary code. After being in Chicago awhile you learn the terms you need to know, but if you’re visiting or just moved to Chicago it seems like you’ll never get it! Traffic reports use names, but the maps and signs use numbers.
Briefly, here are what those names are referring to, so next time you hear “20 minutes outbound from the split to O’Hare” you’ll know that’s a GOOD thing!
Outbound: Leaving downtown
Inbound: Heading downtown
The Kennedy: I-90 and I-94 together north of the Loop (approx.I-290). I-90 continues to be the Kennedy after the Split until O’Hare
The Split/The Junction: When I-90 and I-94 break off from each other north of the Loop. I-90 heads to O’Hare and I-94 heads northeast.
Edens Expressway: I-94 north of the Split Lake Cook Road
Lake Cook Road: East-west street that marks the borders of Lake and Cook Counties on the north side
Northwest Tollway: I-90 north of O’Hare to Wisconsin
Dan Ryan Expressway: I-90 and I-94 together south of the Loop
Skyway: Connects Dan Ryan to Indiana Toll Road
95th Street: Southern end of Dan Ryan Expressway, marks beginning of Bishop Ford
Bishop Ford Freeway: I-94 from 95th (Dan Ryan) to I-80/Indiana
Eisenhower: I-290, which extends from downtown to the western suburbs
North-South: I-355 from Itasca to I-55
Stevenson Expressway: I-55 from Lake Shore Drive to the Tri-State
Tri-State Tollway: I-294 connects with I-94 on the north and the south end of the city, forming a semi-circle and connecting with every major interstate
Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway: I-88 west from Tri-State
The Loop: area in the heart of downtown that’s encircled by the “L” tracks. Lake Street on the North, Wabash on the East, Van Buren on the South and Wells Street on the West.
Post Office: Sometimes used instead of The Loop. Now vacant building that spans the Eisenhower as it turns into Congress Parkway.
Circle/Spaghetti Bowl: Where the Dan Ryan, the Kennedy and the Eisenhower meet
Hillside Strangler: Named after a nearby suburb. Where the East-West Tollway, the Tri-State and the Eisenhower meet
Mannheim: Just east of the Hillside Strangler and near the western end of the Eisenhower