Lake County Motorist

Suburban Chicagoland commuter and motorist weblog

The ten worst traffic backups in Lake County

Sometimes it can feel as if all of Lake County is one gridlocked, bottlenecked, backed-up road, but everything is relative. There are backups, and there are eye-rolling, engine-temperature-rising, steering-wheel-slapping brake sessions to set watches by. Year-round jam spots, not caused by temporary road construction, frequent enough to include in navigation directions: “Make a right on 83 to avoid the Route 60 traffic jam”.

From Deerfield to Mundelein, these are ten of the worst.

10) Route 83 Rather-Not: Northbound Route 60/83 from Diamond Lake Road through Mundelein

The point at which two lanes become one is often a congestion point, especially during rush hour. Rambling Route 83, narrow through Mundelein as it skirts various lakes, becomes a stopping point during summer. Add left-turning motorists and prepare to wait, wait, wait.

Also notably bad: Northbound Route 83 near Route 137, Libertyville

9) Route 60 Stay-Put: Northbound Route 60 from the Super Target to Peterson Road, Mundelein

On Friday nights, this backup has been so persistent that traffic will begin stopping a few hundred feet north of Home Depot. All dissolves once you pass Peterson Road, near the future home of the Lake County Fairgrounds.

8 ) Libertyville Tooth Grinder: Northbound Milwaukee Road from Route 176 to Route 137, Libertyville

This one is complex: Traffic is slow through downtown Libertyville, lightens up a bit, then creeps to a crawl again approaching Buckley Road (Route 137).

7) O’Plaine Punisher: Southbound O’Plaine Road from Washington Street to Route 120, and again south to Route 137, Gurnee/Waukegan/Libertyville

Think you can outwit the backed-up tollway traffic by taking the surface streets? When it comes to O’Plaine Road, think again. There are times when O’Plaine is stopped cold while the tollway traffic beneath the bridge is at least creeping along.

6) Bad times in Bannockburn: Northbound Waukegan Road between Deerfield High School and Half-Day Road, Bannockburn

There is a portion of Lake County defined by large, luxurious homesites, forest preserves, and lack of through streets. Waukegan Road, parallelling the Milwaukee District-North rail line, defines the eastern border of this zone. Cars stack up for miles, sometimes as far south as the Zengeler Cleaners in Deerfield, for their chance to finally reach their goal: getting past Half-Day Road. The train tracks cut off any option of westbound detouring, while the few eastbound roads don’t provide throughway options. Combine this with the evening vehicle and rail rush and resulting rail-crossing signals, and be prepared to wait. And wait.

5) Deerfield Don’t-Do-It: Westbound Deerfield Road from Riverwoods to Milwaukee Road (Route 21), Riverwoods

The sylvan surroundings remind you of why this backup is so bad: Deerfield Road narrows to a two-lane road through Riverwoods, coursing through upscale areas whose biggest draw is the wooded environment. There are very few through roads to siphon off the traffic, so everyone is squeezed onto the few roads that exist. When everyone is trying to get to Half-Day Road and there are only a handful of ways to do so, this is what you end up with.

4) Riverwoods Stopping Party: Riverwoods Road and Everett Roads, Lincolnshire

This backup offers a somewhat relaxing view of equestrian centers or a verdant park. The peaceful surroundings can help calm your rising blood pressure as you sit for up to ten minutes, moving forward inch by inch, as cars take their turn at the four-way stop sign. Heading north on Riverwoods, you are rewarded for your patience with a 55 MPH speed limit and winding roads all the way to Route 60.

3) Lake-Cook Let’s-Not-Go: Westbound Lake-Cook Road between the Milwaukee Road bridge and the Target, Buffalo Grove

After miles of wide, traffic signal-free paradise, Lake-Cook Road narrows from three lanes to two in Buffalo Grove. High jinks ensue, or at least backups do. Only attempt on Friday nights if you have nothing better to do, and no place better to be.

2) Route 120 Patience Tester: Eastbound Route 120 from Lake Street to Route 83, Grayslake

Eastbound morning commuters know this one. Just around the bend that hugs Gray’s Lake is the starting point of a persistent slowdown. There is a school on the south side of Route 120, with the significant bus and vehicle traffic. Directly east of the school is a Metra train crossing abutting Route 83.

Savvy motorists take a left on Lake Street, head to Central, and follow Central across Route 83. However, at times Central backs up as well.

1) The Half-Day-Long Wait: Half Day Road (Route 22), Olde Half-Day Road and Milwaukee Road (Route 21) in all directions, Lincolnshire

After years of construction to widen and resurface the road, Half-Day traffic still snarls. Try navigating the triangle made by Half-Day, Olde Half-Day and Milwaukee roads during rush hour. Bring a giant bag of patience.

Also notable: Southbound Gilmer Road approaching Midlothian Road.

Agree/disagree? Share your best-of-the-worst Lake County jam spots in the comments.

Filed under: Congestion Relief, , , , , , , , , ,

9 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. Rob says:

    Here are a few others that are not always pleasant: These tend to be bad in the morning only:

    Eastbound Route 12 between Ela and Quentin in Lake Zurich

    Eastbound Old McHenry Road at Route 22 (the construction ending at 22/83 has improved this intersection but there are still days when this pile of cars is backed up all the way to Kemper Lakes.) Also, Old McHenry and Robert Parker Coffin in downtown Long Grove is dreadful.

    Eastbound Gilmer at 83.

    Eastbound 60 between Cedar Lake Rd and Peterson.

    I will say this, though : To not have Fairfield and Gilmer on this list anymore is wonderful!!!

  2. Good ones, Rob (or should I say, good ones because they’re so bad!)

    I’ve witnessed the slowness that is Route 12 in Lake Zurich, even on weekends. I almost forgot about that one!

    60 from Cedar Lake to Peterson is awful in the mornings. I try to avoid it whenever I can.

    The Gilmer Crawl to 83 is just a reminder that you are approaching Route 22, and more bad traffic is yet to come! I’m all-too familiar with that one as well.

    Old McHenry, I take less frequently. Fortunately downtown Lake Grove is beautiful because one can certainly spend enough time in traffic to look at it all.

    I was lucky to not encounter the Fairfield/Gilmer intersection until the new overpass was completed. Sounds like the enhancement was much needed!

  3. kilax says:

    Ugh. 3 and 2 I have definitely experienced.

    I hate driving on Rt. 12. It is my least favorite road of ALL TIME. And turning south from 120 to Rt. 12 in the morning is a disaster. Everyone wants to turn, and the green arrow is so short.

  4. Thanks for the info, kilax! I’ve often wondered if taking 120 to 12 and heading south on 12 would be faster than taking Gilmer or Rt. 60, but have been too hesitant to mess with my travel times and risk a monstrous delay. You’ve answered that one for me!

  5. Bill says:

    Lots of good ones already mentioned. Especially eastbound 60 between Cedar Lake and Perterson in the mornings (and the people who drive in the right lane that we all know ends shortly after Cedar Lake – way to make it worse geniuses!). Another real bad spot is westbound 22 between 83 and Old McHenry. I’ts great 22 was widened between Milwaukee and 83 but then it just locks up in Long Grove when it goes back down to one westbound lane. For all the money those people pay to live there it must stink to not even be able to get out of their driveway!

  6. Good point, Bill – riding the right lane on eastbound Rt. 60 hoping to get a “jump” on the competition at the Cedar Lake merge is selfish and slows everyone down.

    I often hear portions of Route 22 mentioned when people talk about bad traffic. I’m glad that portions of it have been widened, but I wonder how much more they could widen because 22 runs through some wealthy communities that may see added capacity as adding more unwanted traffic. The area has grown up around them, putting a strain on the country-feeling two lane highways that make the area so charming except when those highways are jammed with cars during rush hours.

  7. […] Posts The ten worst traffic backups in Lake CountymdnAboutFeaturesRoad Week Ahead: May 19 – May 23On the prowl for speedersThe Never-Ending Rt. 120 […]

  8. […] What a bottleneck. Route 68/83 even made my list of the ten worst Lake County backups (as the “Route 83 […]

  9. joe joe says:

    I have had a particularly terrible experience at the intersection of Lake Cook Road and Highway 53 west of Buffalo Grove. Also:

    Lake Cook Rd, Buffalo Grove Rd, Weiland Rd, McHenry Rd:
    WAY too many streets jumbled up at one main intersection with tons of rush hour traffic! Never try to get yourself jumbled up in this.

    Aptakisic Rd, from IL-Route 83 to Milwaukee Ave:
    I don’t take this route very often, but one of the first times (and my last time) I took this route the traffic was backed up for miles completely stopped. We had to detour through a rough-looking, industrial neighborhood. Never going back.

    Skokie Highway, from Park Ave W to E Westleigh Rd:
    I have to take this highway every once and a while, and as soon as the expressway end and there are traffic signals, only two northbound lanes, and tons of retail on the east side, the traffic never stops. Rush hour: never taken it, however, I can’t imagine how long this route would take.

    I-94, from Buckley Rd to Wadsworth Rd:
    Every time I take a venture to Wisconsin, I am very careful on this route. The traffic is unpredictable here, and when a storm comes, it is dangerous because of the weather, and the fact that people just aren’t careful around here. Never take the route on the first day Six Flags opens. The line must have been stopped for ten miles when I tried this. In the summer detour your route east from Waukegan to Zion on the lakefront roads like Sheridan with better traffic.

    Townline Rd, Butterfield Rd, IL-Route 83, and Lake St:
    All of these streets come together too quick. At rush hour traffic is worst. Best to avoid it, unless you want to the roll the dice and take your chance. On the weekends it isn’t so bad.

    Milwaukee Ave, from Rockland Rd through Half Day Rd:
    Terrible traffic on some days. Thankfully they will widen it!

    And the worst traffic jam I have ever been in…………
    From Rollins Rd, Route 134, Grand Ave (Both west and east), 12-59, in Fox Lake:
    This route was the worst traffic choice I have ever made in lake county, possibly the worst I have ever been in besides my trip on the chicago skyway during the widening project (long story…literally it took four hours)…but anyway, I was trying to find a route to cut from the Wisconsin Dells south to Barrington. I thought that continuing on 12 from the end of the expressway at the Illinois border would be quick, but it ended up taking 3 hours of honking and detours to finally cut through Fox Lake while there was some event that blocked off the street. Bad enough, it was during rush hour and some roads were closed for maintenance at the time as well. Even when none of this is happening, I have heard it is bad. NEVER EVER cut through this!!!!!

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