Chicago highways, O'Hare, Midway airports ramp up Fourth of July weekend travel

ByEric Horng and Christian Piekos and Maher Kawash via WLS logo
Friday, July 1, 2022
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Chicagoans hit the road and lined up at the airport for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicagoans hit the road and lined up at the airport for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

It's one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. AAA expects 2.6 million Illinoisans to head out of town this weekend.

Some people also hit the road Thursday. Highways quickly filled up with bumper to bumper traffic.

In Chicago, the average cost of a gallon of unleaded gas reached a high of $5.83 on June 13, but over the past week prices have dropped 15 cents as the cost of oil falls.

"So if you're not going anywhere, don't feel like you need to be in a rush to fill up. Prices could fall another five, 10, or even 15 cents a gallon at some stations over the next week. And it could continue beyond that," said Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy.com.

And at some suburban gas stations, prices are finally below $5 a gallon. But this is still the most expensive July 4th ever at the pump.

AAA estimated the westbound Eisenhower Expressway will see double its normal volume Friday afternoon, while traffic on much of the Bishop Ford, Dan Ryan, Kennedy and Edens, along with I-294, will also be especially heavy.

At O'Hare Airport, travelers from across the country flooded in.

"We were trying to beat the holiday rush, but I don't think we succeeded," said Mia Gramann and Isabelle Florio who were flying to Nashville.

Jim Prothro is making the trip from Chicago to Shreveport, Louisiana, the first time he's flown in four years.

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"Once I do get on the plane I'll wear a mask, try to social distance," Prothro said.

City aviation officials expect more than 1.6 million travelers this holiday weekend between O'Hare and Midway.

O'Hare alone is expecting a 17 percent increase in travel compared to this time last year. Midway is expecting a 39% jump.

"I travel with someone who needs a wheelchair," traveler Pam Zeller said. "They had it ready for us when we were on our way here."

Zeller was in Chicago for a wedding and is heading back to Fort Myers, Florida.

"It has been absolutely easy and smooth," she said.

And for those still a bit apprehensive to fly, Dr. Juanita Mora of the Chicago Allergy Center said, "As long as you are safe. You're vaccinated you're boosted and you take the precaution of wearing a mask and in the airport and on the flight and obviously and I think it should be a great time because we're protected now. We're in a much better place."