Chicago Travel Guide

Transportation

Chicago is a major transportation hub in the United States. It is an important component in global distribution, as it is the third largest inter-modal port in the world after Hong Kong and Singapore.

Expressways

Seven mainline and four auxiliary interstate highways (55, 57, 65 (only in Indiana), 80 (also in Indiana), 88, 90 (also in Indiana), 94 (also in Indiana), 190, 290, 294, and 355) run through Chicago and its suburbs. Segments that link to the city center are named after influential politicians, with three of them named after former U.S. Presidents (Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan) and one named after two-time Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson.

The Kennedy and Dan Ryan Expressways are the busiest state maintained routes in the entire state of Illinois.

Transit systems

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) coordinates the operation of the three service boards: CTA, Metra, and Pace.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) handles public transportation in the City of Chicago and a few adjacent suburbs outside of the Chicago city limits. The CTA operates an extensive network of buses and a rapid transit elevated and subway system known as the 'L' (for "elevated"), with lines designated by colors. These rapid transit lines also serve both Midway and O'Hare Airports. The CTA's rail lines consist of the Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Brown, Purple, Pink, and Yellow lines. Both the Red and Blue lines offer 24‑hour service which makes Chicago one of a handful of cities around the world (and one of two in the United States, the other being New York City) to offer rail service 24 hours a day, every day of the year, within the city's limits.
Metra, the nation's second-most used passenger regional rail network, operates an 11-line commuter rail service in Chicago and throughout the Chicago suburbs. The Metra Electric Line shares its trackage with Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District's South Shore Line, which provides commuter service between South Bend and Chicago.
Pace provides bus and paratransit service in over 200 surrounding suburbs with some extensions into the city as well. A 2005 study found that one quarter of commuters used public transit.

Greyhound Lines provides inter-city bus service to and from the city, and Chicago is also the hub for the Midwest network of Megabus (North America).

Amtrak long distance services originate from Union Station. Chicago is one of the largest hubs of passenger rail service in the nation. The services terminate in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York City, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Portland, Seattle, Milwaukee, Quincy, St. Louis, Carbondale, Boston, Grand Rapids, Port Huron, Pontiac, Los Angeles, and San Antonio. An attempt was made in the early 20th century to link Chicago with New York City via the Chicago – New York Electric Air Line Railroad. Parts of this were built, but it was ultimately never completed.

Freight Rail

Chicago is the largest hub in the railroad industry. Six of the seven Class I railroads meet in Chicago, with the exception being the Kansas City Southern Railway. As of 2002, severe freight train congestion caused trains to take as long to get through the Chicago region as it took to get there from the West Coast of the country (about 2 days). About one-third of the country's freight trains pass through the city, making it a major national bottleneck. Announced in 2003, the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) initiative is using about $1.5 billion in private railroad, state, local, and federal funding to improve rail infrastructure in the region to reduce freight rail congestion by about one third.

Airports

Chicago is served by O'Hare International Airport, the world's second busiest airport, on the far Northwest Side, and Midway International Airport on the Southwest Side. In 2005, O'Hare was the world's busiest airport by aircraft movements and the second busiest by total passenger traffic (due to government enforced flight caps). Both O'Hare and Midway are owned and operated by the City of Chicago. Gary/Chicago International Airport and Chicago Rockford International Airport, located in Gary, Indiana and Rockford, Illinois, respectively, can serve as alternate Chicago area airports, however they do not offer as many commercial flights as O'Hare and Midway. In recent years the state of Illinois has been leaning towards building an entirely new airport in the Illinois suburbs of Chicago. The City of Chicago is the world headquarters for United Airlines, the world's largest airline.

Port authority

The Port of Chicago consists of several major port facilities within the city of Chicago operated by the Illinois International Port District (formerly known as the Chicago Regional Port District). The central element of the Port District, Calumet Harbor, is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Iroquois Landing Lakefront Terminal: at the mouth of the Calumet River, it includes of warehouses and facilities on Lake Michigan with over 780,000 square meters (8,390,000 square feet) of storage.
Lake Calumet terminal: located at the union of the Grand Calumet River and Little Calumet River inland from Lake Michigan. Includes three transit sheds totaling over 29,000 square meters (315,000 square feet) adjacent to over 900 linear meters (3,000 linear feet) of ship and barge berthing.
Grain (14 million bushels) and bulk liquid (800,000 barrels) storage facilities along Lake Calumet.
The Illinois International Port district also operates Foreign trade zone No. 22, which extends from Chicago's city limits.

source: Wikipedia

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