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Old 06-02-2016, 04:35 PM   #1
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From Indy to Racine thru Chicago

I have this mapped out on Google, for heading out in the AM. I just entered it into my Garmin DEZL, which has Toll Road Avoidance turned on. And that was the first time I saw that the Google preffered route, had tolls.

Now I used to think I was able to read things and understand them. But I read the Illinois Virtual Tollway site - and dang if I could come up with any estimate of how much the preferred route would costs us in tolls. (Thus, the key words above 'used to'.)

What is not clear to me, is the 65N transition to I94 and I 294 on the way towards Wisconsin. I can't tell if we pay 'one toll' and it takes us the full way. Or, if their are multiple sections of tolls along the way?

I assume they charge by axle(?). So for us with our tag coach and toad, we'd have 5 axles.

I see a few routes that bypass toll highways, but they seem to take us closer to the downtown area of Chicago closer to that little lake, along 90, and then instead of coming into 94, they have us running parallel on highway 41.

We should hit the area between 11:00AM-12:30PM.

Opinions please, just follow the preferred route an sign up the DW to give blood for a few weeks to cover the costs of Tolls? (And note, we have no passes. So we'd be stopping at each toll booth along the way. Which I assume would result in some slow down in our travel.) Or, should we go I65 to I90 to Hwy 41 to get up to the Wisconsin border?

If the suggestions is the preferred route of 65 - 94/294 - how many tolls will we hit. One to go the full way? Or multiple sections each having their own toll?

Wish I'd seen this earlier, as I could have done more research instead of just reaching out to the Chicago knowledge braintrust!

Best to all, and TIA,
Smitty
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Old 06-02-2016, 04:49 PM   #2
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It's going to cost you $36.75 according the i-Pass website. They charge by the axle, so with 5 axles, you're paying the big truck rate.

You definitely don't want to take I-94 through the heart of the city. Its always insane, regardless of the time. Take I-294 all the way. Even if you took I-94, you'd still have to pay the $18.75 because that route doesn't avoid the Waukegan Toll Plaza and there's another toll before I-94 rejoins I-294. The only toll-free way would be I-94 through the heart of the city, and then continue north on US-41 as I-94 turns west toward I-294. If you were crazy enough to drive through downtown, US-41 isn't too bad - it might be worth saving $18.75 dealing with the traffic lights.

There is no toll to go from I-65 to I-80/94. There would be a toll if you were crazy enough to take I-65 to I-90 (Indiana tollroad) and then another very expensive toll as I-90 becomes the Chicago Skyway.

Once you head west on I-80/94, about 13 miles later you'll cross the IN-IL border and I-94 splits off to the right a mile later. You'll continue due west on I-80/294 which is then technically a toll road, but the toll booth isn't until I-80 splits off I-294, maybe 6 miles later.

After that, there's a toll booth about every 10 miles. You'll want to be in the right lane coming up to the booth, since all four lanes will continue straight through for the people with transponders. If for some reason you can't get off and go through the transponder-only lane, you have 7 days to go online and pay.

EDIT: I had previously stated that the cash rate is double that of transponder users. I was wrong. That 50% discount for a transponder only applies to cars. It costs the same with cash or a transponder, which explains why it cost me so much last time I drove the route I described. The only discount is if you go between 10pm and 6am.
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Old 06-02-2016, 06:51 PM   #3
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It's going to cost you $36.75 according the i-Pass website. They charge by the axle, so with 5 axles, you're paying the big truck rate.

You definitely don't want to take I-94 through the heart of the city. Its always insane, regardless of the time. Take I-294 all the way. Even if you took I-94, you'd still have to pay the $18.75 because that route doesn't avoid the Waukegan Toll Plaza and there's another toll before I-94 rejoins I-294. The only toll-free way would be I-94 through the heart of the city, and then continue north on US-41 as I-94 turns west toward I-294. If you were crazy enough to drive through downtown, US-41 isn't too bad - it might be worth saving $18.75 dealing with the traffic lights.

There is no toll to go from I-65 to I-80/94. There would be a toll if you were crazy enough to take I-65 to I-90 (Indiana tollroad) and then another very expensive toll as I-90 becomes the Chicago Skyway.

Once you head west on I-80/94, about 13 miles later you'll cross the IN-IL border and I-94 splits off to the right a mile later. You'll continue due west on I-80/294 which is then technically a toll road, but the toll booth isn't until I-80 splits off I-294, maybe 6 miles later.

After that, there's a toll booth about every 10 miles. You'll want to be in the right lane coming up to the booth, since all four lanes will continue straight through for the people with transponders. If for some reason you can't get off and go through the transponder-only lane, you have 7 days to go online and pay.

EDIT: I had previously stated that the cash rate is double that of transponder users. I was wrong. That 50% discount for a transponder only applies to cars. It costs the same with cash or a transponder, which explains why it cost me so much last time I drove the route I described. The only discount is if you go between 10pm and 6am.


Many, many thanks! This gives me a comfortable enough feeling to know that the DW will not lose too much blood! And, before I read this, I tried their site on a non Apple product, and the Right Click features of Entry and Exit point worked well... So my frustration was I'm still a newer user of Apple products, and forget how to make the 'right click' work all the time:(!

Later on this trip, we'll be in the North East, and then working our way back thru the great lakes regions. I'm going to look into establishing a Fast Pass or I Pass or EZ Pass. Mostly to avoid the sometime backup at 'pay as you go' points.

I'll do some more surfing on this to find out how this would work with an RV and Toad combo, and then what happens when you shift to say only the Toad mode while traveling in an area. (Would hate to always pay for 5 axles, when many times it will be only two...)

But back to this thread. MANY THANKS AGAIN! Very nice of you to take the time where I had failed!

Best to you, and all,
Smitty
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Old 06-03-2016, 07:32 AM   #4
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Any time we need to travel well north of Chicago from the south, we drive through Rockford. The significant reduction in hassle and tolls is well worth the extra distance
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Old 06-03-2016, 07:57 AM   #5
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Any time we need to travel well north of Chicago from the south, we drive through Rockford. The significant reduction in hassle and tolls is well worth the extra distance
+1. From Indy, I-74 to I-55 to I-39 is a great route for avoiding Chicago if going anywhere other than the Milwaukee area.

To Racine it would have added 120 miles, which would have replaced the cost of the tolls with extra fuel and added almost two hours of travel time.
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Old 06-03-2016, 08:05 AM   #6
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I live in Milwaukee and travel thru/around Chicago all the time... I just went I-294 over the weekend..

We travel with a trailer/toad and it will cost you $20.90 (one way/non-tag) if you are coming via I-65 to I-80/94 to I-294 to I-94..

Also.. I would STRONGLY suggest you use the I-pass/transponder lanes and just go on line and pay your tolls... the gates are very tight and using the I-Pass lanes will allow you to flow around the city much faster.

Good Luck !!

EDIT: Another reason for using the I-Pass lanes, sometimes the camera's will miss things (toads/trailers/tag axles) and your fee could be less than stopping at each individual toll booth
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Old 06-03-2016, 08:18 AM   #7
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Taking I94 directly through the city is free and is a little bit shorter than the I294 bypass. It you hit it between 1 pm and 3 pm as you suggested, I94 may actually be a little bit faster. After 4pm. they will both be slow.

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Old 06-03-2016, 01:41 PM   #8
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Thanks guys. Have taken a do better on both using my Apple (after decades of only Microsoft) as I was forgetting the control to perform Right/Left Clicks. So had trouble setting start/stop points(:!

We did end up leaving a bit earlier, so were at I80/I94W from I65 by 10:30AM. We did take the Toll I294 all the way until it reached I94 again. And the costs of the tolls were exactly as you stated. Maybe 15-25 mins total back up from the toll booths and Ohara Airport area congestion.

We'll research the iPass or other such transponder based systems, and pick one up before we to the East coast.

Really appreciated all of the input! My best to all,
Smitty
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