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Driving through Chicago - tolls

Driving through Chicago - tolls

Old Mar 19, 19, 11:14 am
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Driving through Chicago - tolls

Arriving at OHare and driving to Indiana - on whatever route GPS recommends - Friday night. Never having driven in this area, I'm unfamiliar with the tolls there.

Obviously they exist - but how are they paid? I would rather pay cash (than paying for the transmitter fee at the rental company, assuming there is one).

Do the toll plazas accept cash, (universally?)

Exact change?

Thanks

RRZ
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Old Mar 19, 19, 11:49 am
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Originally Posted by rrz518 View Post
Arriving at OHare and driving to Indiana - on whatever route GPS recommends - Friday night. Never having driven in this area, I'm unfamiliar with the tolls there.

Obviously they exist - but how are they paid? I would rather pay cash (than paying for the transmitter fee at the rental company, assuming there is one).

Do the toll plazas accept cash, (universally?)

Exact change?

Thanks

RRZ
Most (but not all) toll plazas accept cash. Many are fully automated and require exact change. I believe that only the big plazas located on the highway itself have attendants. Paying cash will require you pay double the iPass (automated) rate.

Driving from O'Hare to Indiana will allow you to pay at plazas with a human being in a booth. But I do not know for absolutely sure as I have an iPass account and never use them. You can check out our route using the site below. If you take I-294 you will pay $6.00.

https://www.getipass.com/trip-calculator
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Old Mar 19, 19, 4:30 pm
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Originally Posted by cheltzel View Post
Most (but not all) toll plazas accept cash. Many are fully automated and require exact change. I believe that only the big plazas located on the highway itself have attendants. Paying cash will require you pay double the iPass (automated) rate.

Driving from O'Hare to Indiana will allow you to pay at plazas with a human being in a booth. But I do not know for absolutely sure as I have an iPass account and never use them. You can check out our route using the site below. If you take I-294 you will pay $6.00.

https://www.getipass.com/trip-calculator
Thanks for the info. The map makes it appear that using I-90 directly into and thru downtown to be slightly more direct....it that the case? If so, is that a toll route as well?

- RRZ
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Old Mar 19, 19, 8:56 pm
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Originally Posted by rrz518 View Post
Thanks for the info. The map makes it appear that using I-90 directly into and thru downtown to be slightly more direct....it that the case? If so, is that a toll route as well?

- RRZ
I-90 through Chicago is shorter, but the traffic can be significantly worse. You say Friday night, but how late? 5PM I'd do 294 every time. Later would get better. Definitely check the traffic when you pickup the car.

There are no tolls on 90 from O'Hare into downtown, but then there are tolls on 90 after it splits from 94 south of downtown, first as the Chicago Skyway, then as the Indiana toll road. 94 remains free but is a little bit longer (though not enough longer that I ever take 90 going to Indiana if I'm not going somewhere right off 90 before they meet again).
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Old Mar 20, 19, 4:57 am
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I have to second what @glg posted. I have driven in to the city (I live about 10 minutes NW of ORD) and it has taken me as much as 90 - 120 minutes just to get to the Loop (Chicago's downtown). So taking the seemingly shorter and cheaper route through the city could add an extra hour or more depending on traffic. You an always use a Nav app like Waze or Google Maps to help make the decision as both are fairly accurate as to current traffic and conditions.
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Old Mar 20, 19, 8:17 am
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Originally Posted by glg View Post
I-90 through Chicago is shorter, but the traffic can be significantly worse. You say Friday night, but how late? 5PM I'd do 294 every time. Later would get better. Definitely check the traffic when you pickup the car.

There are no tolls on 90 from O'Hare into downtown, but then there are tolls on 90 after it splits from 94 south of downtown, first as the Chicago Skyway, then as the Indiana toll road. 94 remains free but is a little bit longer (though not enough longer that I ever take 90 going to Indiana if I'm not going somewhere right off 90 before they meet again).
The flight doesn't arrive until 11pm. So I'd say about midnight.

I'm heading to Elkhart, Indiana
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Old Mar 20, 19, 9:35 am
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Originally Posted by rrz518 View Post
The flight doesn't arrive until 11pm. So I'd say about midnight.

I'm heading to Elkhart, Indiana
IMO you would be better going through the city than taking the more circuitous route. Just check to see if there is construction first.
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Old Mar 20, 19, 10:03 am
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Note that going through the city would also have Google route you on the Skyway which is $5.30. You can also pay via credit card.

Alternatively, you can also just blow through the tolls and pay missed tolls online later by entering your rental car license plate number, dates/times of passage through toll plazas. Your rental car agency will try to charge you for the tolls, but if you have evidence that you paid, you can submit that and they will (or should) waive the toll and service charges. It's more effort, but it's another option.
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Old Mar 20, 19, 2:41 pm
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Chances are your route will either be:
(a) I-190 to I-90 I-90/94 to I-90 to I-80/90 or
(b) I-190 to 1-294 to I-80/294 to I-80/94 to I-80/90

I'd research tolls along that route, compare the I-PASS/EZ-PASS rates to the non-I-PASS/EZ-PASS rates, determine how much it would cost to rent a transponder from the rental car company, and see how significantly the cost of the transponder is offset by the savings on tolls. I don't trust a rental car company to not sock me with a fine for driving through a toll plaza without paying, even if I paid the toll online, plus I'm not sure if you get the I-PASS rate if you do that.
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Old Mar 20, 19, 2:48 pm
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Originally Posted by TribalistMeathead View Post

I'd research tolls along that route, compare the I-PASS/EZ-PASS rates to the non-I-PASS/EZ-PASS rates, determine how much it would cost to rent a transponder from the rental car company, and see how significantly the cost of the transponder is offset by the savings on tolls. I don't trust a rental car company to not sock me with a fine for driving through a toll plaza without paying, even if I paid the toll online, plus I'm not sure if you get the I-PASS rate if you do that.
I live in Chicago, but when I've rented a car anywhere else, it comes with the toll transponder. I assume the same at ORD, but the OP can just check to make sure. I've never been charged extra for this...but in Chicago the savings is significant.

Arriving at 11 pm, I'd definitely drive on 90 through the city and then on the skyway. It's possible to hit traffic at any time of day here, but almost certainly will be faster than 294 at that time.
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Old Mar 20, 19, 5:46 pm
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If driving a rental car, I will pay tolls in cash instead of using the pass. Most car companies charge a fee (about $5) per day in addition to the actual toll fees.

South of downtown taking the Skyway to Indiana is the shortest route, but late at night I 94 would be almost as fast.
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Old Mar 22, 19, 6:32 am
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A quick note to the OP:

Check with your rental car agency at ORD on specifically which toll systems your rental car is set up for. Case in point... National does not use transponders but instead has Illinois Tollway charge them directly based on license plate number. They tell you to go straight through the express toll points and not worry about anything else. They also ask a question which will be critical to you: "Are you leaving the state of Illinois?" The point being is they will have to give you a transponder to put in the car if you're traveling on the Indiana Toll Road.

Lastly -- all these posts on how to avoid what might amount $5 or so on tolls when it will be just a fraction of the fuel cost???
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Old Mar 22, 19, 11:21 pm
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Originally Posted by JimInOhio View Post
Lastly -- all these posts on how to avoid what might amount $5 or so on tolls when it will be just a fraction of the fuel cost???
Um, what? Avoiding the Skyway toll on 90 by taking 94 is a whole 5 miles longer, that's nowhere near $5 in fuel cost, let alone $5 being a fraction of the fuel cost. Avoiding 294 by taking 90 and 94 is a *shorter* distance, though (as many have noted), may be faster due to traffic.

This isn't like going from O'Hare to Madison where avoid tolls means taking US 12 or 14 through small towns and taking significantly longer.
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Old Mar 22, 19, 11:24 pm
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If you're renting a car from a major agency at ORD, changes are it will be equipped with a toll transponder. Your rental car company will charge you the actual tolls (probably after a long delay, so if you need to submit receipts for reimbursement, you need to calculate what the costs should be) plus IIRC a fixed fee for each day that you use the transponder. YMMV.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 8:06 am
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Originally Posted by glg View Post
Um, what? Avoiding the Skyway toll on 90 by taking 94 is a whole 5 miles longer, that's nowhere near $5 in fuel cost, let alone $5 being a fraction of the fuel cost. Avoiding 294 by taking 90 and 94 is a *shorter* distance, though (as many have noted), may be faster due to traffic.

This isn't like going from O'Hare to Madison where avoid tolls means taking US 12 or 14 through small towns and taking significantly longer.
No, I mean the fuel cost of driving from ORD to Elkhart which is in itself much less than the cost of the rental. In other words, the toll charge is a tiny portion of the total cost so it's hard to see why it's such a point of analysis.

Last edited by JimInOhio; Mar 23, 19 at 8:21 am
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