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Holiday Travel: Expect Lots of Traffic, Free Coffee on the Tollway This Christmas

Tollway officials expect 15.7 million vehicles on toll roads between Dec. 21 and Jan. 3.

For those last-minute shoppers, each of the Illinois Tollway’s four roadways offers access to great shopping:

  • Traveling on the Tri-State Tollway (I-294/I-94)? Look for Gurnee Mills just off the Grand Avenue exit or the Westfield Chicago Ridge Mall off of 95th Street.
  • The Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) offers access to the Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora, just off the Farnsworth Avenue exit or try Oakbrook Center at the Spring Road exit.
  • Via the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355), The Promenade in Bolingbrook is just off the Boughton Road exit and Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg is due north on I-290/Illinois Route 53. 
  • The Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) also offers access to I-290/Illinois Route 53 to reach the Woodfield Mall, as well as a route to the Huntley Outlet Center at Illinois Route 47 or the CherryVale Mall near Rockford.

Tollway customers will also find there’s still time to tell Santa Claus what they want for Christmas. 

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On Sunday, Dec. 23, visit and take a photo with Old Saint Nick at the Chicago Southland Lincoln Oasis on the south Tri-State Tollway (I-294/I-80) from 1 to 4 p.m. 

Heavy travel anticipated—and free coffee

The Illinois Tollway expects 15.7 million vehicles will use the tollway system during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays between Friday, Dec. 21, and Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2013.

On an average day, about 1.4 million vehicles use the tollway. 

“The Illinois Tollway wishes a safe and happy holiday season to all of our customers,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur.  “As part of our annual tradition, the Oases will also provide late-night drivers a free cup of coffee on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.” 

From 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, travelers can get a complimentary cup of coffee at 7-Eleven locations at all Tollway Oases and McDonald's restaurants located at the DeKalb, Lake Forest and Belvidere Oases. Oases locations include: Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90)

  • Des Plaines Oasis
  • Belvidere Oasis

 Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80)

  • Lake Forest Oasis
  • O’Hare Oasis
  • Hinsdale Oasis
  • Chicago Southland Lincoln Oasis

 Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88)

  • DeKalb Oasis

The Oases along the Illinois Tollway can be easily accessed, making it a great stop for anyone who needs a break from their trip as they travel this holiday season. 

“Have you seen us lately? The Oases are conveniently located along the tollways for anyone who needs to stretch their legs, grab a bite to eat and even pick up a quick gift,” said Cindy O’Drobinak, senior vice president, U.S. Equities Realty. “We have family-friendly spaces, fresh food offerings to meet everyone's request, and even Oases dollar gift certificates and other great gifts for family and friends.”

Lane closures suspended

To accommodate increased holiday travel, the tollway will suspend all temporary maintenance and construction lane closures from noon on Friday, Dec. 21, until 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 26, and from noon on Friday, Dec. 28, until 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013. 

Some work may continue behind barriers to keep work on schedule, but this work will not impact traffic.  

“Drivers should remain alert with increased holiday traffic and remember that texting or emailing while driving is illegal and deadly,” said Lafleur. “Illinois Tollway Oases are great places for drivers to stop and access free Wi-Fi if they need to send an email or text message.” 

It is illegal to text or email at any time while driving on Illinois roads. Drivers on the Illinois Tollway who need to check email or send a text message should pull over to a safe location. In Illinois, data indicates that cell phone distractions, including texting, were the primary or secondary cause of 1,130 vehicle crashes in 2011. 

Tollway travel tips

The Illinois Tollway offers the following tips to enhance travel on our roadways:

  • Know Before You Go - The Illinois Tollway has a variety of ways customers can get the latest travel information, including:
  • www.illinoistollway.com – Construction/Planning section and Tollway Trip Calculator
  • 1-800-TOLL-FYI – Daily lane closure information
  • www.travelmidwest.com – Real-time travel times
  • www.nbcchicago.com – Up-to-the-minute traffic by roadway
  • www.twitter.com – Real-time roadway incident information at Tollway Trip 90, Tollway Trip 88, Tollway Trip 355 and Tollway Trip 94/294
  • Need Help?  Dial *999 - If your vehicle becomes disabled, park safely on the shoulder, raise your hood and remain in your vehicle.  Dial *999 and assistance will be dispatched to your location.

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