CHICAGO (WLS) -- What's old is new! The new Chicago Skyway canopy re-opened Thursday after a $7 million rehabilitation project.
Officials from the Skyway and local government celebrated the grand re-opening of the Chicago Skyway canopy with a marching band and appropriate pomp and circumstance.
The project maintained the historical Art Deco look and feel of the original, while incorporating state of the art signage and tolling equipment.
"There's been $120 million invested in the Skyway over the past 10 years or so. We are an incredibly important part of the eco-transportation system of northwest Indiana and Chicago. Without the Chicago Skyway, things are gridlocked. We contribute to the economy, move 15 million people efficiently and safely each year between Indiana and Chicago, and we're investing in the future of Chicago," Skyway Concession Company Chairman Kirk Dillard said.
The Calumet Skyway, as it was originally named, opened in April 1968, with Mayor Richard J. Daley at the ribbon cutting. With nearly 8 miles of elevated roadway, it was built as a shortcut from Chicago's South Side to the Indiana steel mills.
When the Dan Ryan, Calumet, Kingery and Borman expressways were built in the 1960s, the free interstates were preferred over the tolls on the Skyway, making it difficult to repay construction bonds.
In 2005, the Chicago Skyway became the first privatized toll road in the country, when the Skyway Concession Company, in a joint venture, assumed operations of the Skyway with a 99-year operating lease.
The new toll plaza has better brighter signage and improved toll collection, accepting most transponders from the Midwest and east coast.
When it opened in 1958, the toll was 25 cents. Now it's $5.20 for a two-axle vehicle.