In 2005, a Spanish company and an Australian company paid $1.83 billion for a 99-year lease on the Chicago Skyway. The deal with the city was a pioneering lease of public infrastructure to private companies, a practice that would culminate in the infamous parking meter deal.
Although it affects fewer motorists, the Skyway has been just as bad a deal for Chicago drivers. Before the Skyway Concession Company began its lease, the toll to use the 8-mile elevated roadway was two dollars. On Jan. 1, that will increase to four dollars— a 100% increase in just eight years, making the Skyway the highest toll per mile of any Interstate toll system in the United States. Will that be the breaking point for people who need a quick route from the South Side of Chicago to Northwest Indiana? If so, Ward Room has some driving tips for avoiding the toll.
One way of course, is simply to take the Bishop Ford Freeway south until it turns into 80/94. But there are quicker routes that involve using the streets of the East Side. If you’re headed into the city on Interstate 90, get off at exit 0—Indianapolis Boulevard. Follow that to Ewing Avenue, then take a right. If you want to get to the Dan Ryan, take a left on 95th St. and follow that 4 miles until it rejoins the highway. If you want to go downtown, stay on Ewing, following the signs for US 41 North until it turns into South Shore Drive in, then Lake Shore Drive.
That may sound like a lot of driving, but if you use the Skyway every day, you’ll save $40 a week, or $2,000 a year. And, you’ll be making a statement against the city’s ill-fated lease program. That alone could make the drive worthwhile.