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NJ to Minn -- avoid Chicago traffic w/ southern route?

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Pennington, NJ
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NJ to Minn -- avoid Chicago traffic w/ southern route?

We are a family of 3 (parents and 13 year old) from New Jersey taking a baseball roadtrip. Our first stop is Minnesota. Then it's Twins, Brewers, Cubs, White Sox, Tigers, Blue Jays and home.

We will be driving heavy over 2.5 days to get to Minnesota to visit family for the weekend before our first game. Two options for our drive out to Minnesota:

1) Northern Route: NJ (Rt 80) - Pittsburgh - Cleveland - Toledo - Chicago (Route 90) - Rockford - Madison - Minneapolis (1200 miles, 19 hours)

2) Southern Route: NJ (Rt 76/70) - Pittsburgh - Indianapolis - Rockport (Rt 74 and 39) - Madison (RT 39 and 90) - Minneapolis (1300 miles, 21 hours)

It seems like the Northern Route through Chicago would be preferred, but I am concerned about construction and traffic. We would likely pass through Chicago on a Thursday afternoon (4PM) to do an overnight stop there and head to MN in the morning.

Could the southern route be better? I'm inclined to go that way.

Please help!

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1. Re: NJ to Minn -- avoid Chicago traffic w/ southern route?

If you do decide to take the northern route, I would avoid the Dan Ryan expressway. I don’t drive on it very often, but from listening to traffic reports, there are frequent delays. You will get an excellent view of downtown Chicago though!

An alternative is to travel 80/94 west (lots of trucks) until you reach 355, and follow this north (not bad at all in the afternoon). Follow 355, which leads into 290 (same road, different name) until you get to 90 West, which takes you to Rockford. This route will be longer miles wise, but there may be less congestion. Chicago traffic is really unpredictable.

Chicago, IL
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2. Re: NJ to Minn -- avoid Chicago traffic w/ southern route?

You can take your northern route and bypass most Chicago traffic using I-80 to I-355/I-90 or even I-80 all the way to I-39.

Palatine, Illinois
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3. Re: NJ to Minn -- avoid Chicago traffic w/ southern route?

Looking at the routes, most likely you won't spend an extra 2 hours in traffic in Chicago (at the worst it would be an extra hour). The posters before recommend the I-80 to I-355 route around Chicago and that would be the best bet for clear traffic around Chicago.

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4. Re: NJ to Minn -- avoid Chicago traffic w/ southern route?

If you're going to stop for the night in Chicago, I'd take the Skyway (exit 16 in Indiana off of 80/94) into the city. You'll pay about $3.50 in tolls, but it cuts a lot of the construction on the Bishop Ford (what they call 94 south of the city) which is down to 1 lane at night, 2 during the day.

The skyway will drop you off either at Stoney Island (to Lake Shore Drive which is my favorite way to enter the city) or near 70th street on the Dan Ryan.

If you're arriving at 4pm, I'd do Lake Shore as the Dan Ryan will be a mess all the way into the Loop. Lake Shore will drive you right past (in this order from the south) Washington Park (possibly home to the 2016 Olympic Stadium), the Museum of Science and Industry, under McCormick Place, past Soldier Field, the Field Museum and then Grant Park will be on your left.

As for leaving the next day, just wait for the morning rush to clear (should be fine around 9:30am) and you should not experience too many delays out of the city.

I just drove from Chicago to Minneapolis, left at 2pm and hit some traffic around Rockford. There is construction, but traffic is just slow, not stopped. Beware of Wisconsin State Police. The love to ticket speeders, especially those with non-Wisconsin plates. I passed about 5 or 6 of them each way. I'd stay around 70 mph (the limit is 65.)

5. Re: NJ to Minn -- avoid Chicago traffic w/ southern route?

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