Making your way through a major city can be confusing, and adding construction, alternative routes and delays can frustrate even the savviest navigator. Once you make it to Chicago, Plastics News suggests parking the car and taking public transportation. A few services are free all week to NPE attendees — just flash your pass and ride.
Shuttle buses are available from downtown hotels to the McCormick Place complex free of charge. Shuttles do not stop at every hotel; signs will be posted in hotel lobbies or you can ask your concierge which neighboring hotel has a boarding location.
Shuttle bus service will be available during NPE peak hours (7 to 11:30a.m. and 3:30 to 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 7 to 11:30 a.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. Friday). There are signs within McCormick Place pointing out shuttle bus pickup and drop-off locations.
Other modes of transportation like trains, buses, trolleys and taxis can sweep you though Chicago from the show. The fastest way to and from McCormick Place is the Metra regional rail system. It's located on Level 2.5 of the Grand Concourse in McCormick's North Building. Metra is convenient because the average trip lasts about seven minutes.
Metra trains run north and south between McCormick Place and downtown stations along Michigan Avenue at Millennium Park (Randolph/South Water Street), Van Buren Street and Museum Campus/11th Street. A train ticket is required prior to boarding, but the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. will provide complimentary Metra passes to all attendees and exhibitors. Passes were mailed, or can be collected at registration.
If your hotel is beyond walking distance to Metra stations, take a taxi between stations and your hotel. At the Millennium Park Station, exit the train through the main station and follow signs to Michigan Avenue. Taxis are located on Randolph Street at Michigan. For more details, visit www.rtachicago.com.
Taxis may be the best option if you are heading to a sporting event or a restaurant not accessible by shuttle. Up to four passengers can share a taxi from McCormick Place to various downtown destinations for $7 per person. From the South Building, taxis load at the west end of the Grand Concourse, Gate 4. For the North Building, go to Gate 22 at the Level 1 lobby and to the City Gate on Level 1 (Gate 40) in the West Building.
The Chicago Transit Authority provides a bus service that runs approximately every 15 minutes. Drop-off is located at the main entrance to the South Building on Martin Luther King Drive and basic fare is $1.75.
One travel option would be to take a bus to the Cermak/Chinatown elevated train, or “L,” station and hop on the CTA's Red Line. The line has several downtown stops along State Street.
Once downtown, traveling by foot is a breeze. Chicago's pedestrian walkway system of underground tunnels and overhead bridges links 40-plus blocks in the heart of the city. It conveniently connects public and private buildings.
If you're driving to NPE, there are two main parking lots on the McCormick Place campus. Both are within walking distance to the complex. Events in Lakeside Center and Arie Crown Theater use Lot C (also known as the underground garage) as their primary parking location, while events in the North, South and West buildings designate Lot A, (the MLK garage) as the primary parking location. The parking rate is currently $19. It's a flat fee, regardless of the amount of time your vehicle is parked. Parking fees can be paid by cash or credit card. Overnight parking is not allowed in the garages.
For those who have made prior reservations, limousines and vans will be allowed to standby for a short period of time at Gate 41 in the West Building and Gate 27 in the North Building. For access to South and North Buildings, vehicles should enter from 31st Street and for access to the West Building, enter from Cermak Street.
Traveling in an unfamiliar area can be hectic, and surprise road closures and construction delays can make the trip more aggravating. Plastics News has researched Chicago's most popular routes to inform you of recent detours and delays. You may want to precede with caution thought these areas.
Check out the most current construction projects and delays online at www.gcmtravel.com/ gcm/maps_chicago.jsp.
The Illinois Department of Transportation has reported summer projects, delays and closings; there are several areas of concern. No major highways around Chicago have alternative routes, so the main problem will be congestion and delays.
For those driving to Chicago and those renting a car and navigating through the city, there wll be problem areas on major city roads close to McCormick Place.
One area around Interstates 90 and 94 is the Dan Ryan Expressway at 42nd Street. Lanes are shifted and shoulders are closed north- and southbound.
Milwaukee Avenue at I-90/94 also has various lanes closed for bridge reconstruction.
Two sections are fully closed, so pick an alternate route if you use 24th street at Dearborn Street and Kilborne Avenue, from 30th to 31st streets.
The westbound Eisenhower Expressway at Racine Avenue has minor delays due to the left shoulder being closed. Central Avenue at I-90 both ways has various lanes closed causing some congestion and the I-90's Cherry Valley westbound ramp to southbound Interstate 39 is closed.
On your way to the city, a few construction spots were found, but no closures were reported.
I-94 has a lane closed from Bishop Ford Freeway to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, and I-94 from MLK to U.S. Route 6 will have up to four lanes closed. Expect major delays On I-94 from Dolton Avenue and U.S. 6.
Interstate 294, from 95th Street to 83rd Street, has center lanes and both shoulders closed due to bridge work.
Anyone traveling Interstate 55 should expect construction along the way with one-lane closures mostly in the middle of Illinois.
Chicago has many ways to travel and if you chose to drive, look for detour and message boards to re-route you. If you decide to fly, you also have the option to take the CTA to and from O'Hare International and Midway airports. For the route to O'Hare, first take the Metra train to the Millennium Park Station, then walk three blocks west to Dearborn. Take the CTA Blue Line subway northwest to O'Hare. The CTA subway fare is $2.25 and takes approximately 45 minutes.
To reach Midway Airport, take the Metra train to the Millennium Park Station, then, walk one block west to Wabash. Here you can jump on the Orange Line elevated south train to Midway Airport. The L fare is $2.25 and the trip to Midway takes approximately 35 minutes.
If you take the Airport Express Service, the shuttle provides shared-ride airport services from Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Midway Airport to McCormick Place all day on demand. For a $2 discount, visit www.air portexpress.com and enter NPE into the online reservation system.
Use these traveling tips and have a safe trip.