If you're heading out for the holidays, you might want to allow a little more time for travel.
The Illinois Tollway expects 15.4 million vehicles will use the Tollway system during the Christmas and New Year's holidays between Friday, December 23, and Tuesday, January 3, 2012 — a 3 percent increase over the same period in 2010.
Tollway officials were predicting the heaviest travel on Dec. 23, with a projected 1.6 million vehicles on the road. On an average day, about 1.4 million vehicles use the Tollway, according to a press release.
To ease congestion and accommodate increased holiday travel, the Tollway will suspend all maintenance and construction lane closures starting at noon Friday, Dec. 23, until 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 26. Lane closures will be suspended again from noon Friday, Dec. 30, until 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. Some work may continue behind barriers to keep work on schedule, according to Tollway officials, but this work will not impact traffic.
Don't text and drive
"The Illinois Tollway wishes a safe and happy holiday season to all of our customers," said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur, adding, "Drivers should remain alert with increased holiday traffic and remember that texting or emailing while driving is illegal and deadly."
Drivers should keep in mind that 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, according to a release issued Monday. According to the Tollway, cell phone distractions including texting were the primary or secondary cause of 1,119 vehicle crashes in Illinois last year.
"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," said Lafleur.
Consider it a Christmas present: Free coffee at Tollway Oases
"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," Lafleur noted.
The Illinois Tollway and McDonald's and 7-Eleven will provide customers with a free small cup of coffee on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. at each of the seven Oases to help keep drivers safe and alert while traveling. 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