^Northbound reassurance marker at the I-90 interchange near Des Plaines, July 2022.
Interstate 294 is a tolled and heavily-trafficked western bypass of Chicago, serving as an alternate to Interstate 94 which passes right through downtown. The intentional scarcity of interchanges along this limited-access tollway leads to a smoother ride around Chicagoland. Both ends are at Interstate 94; the southern beginning heads west on Interstate 80 for a few miles before turning northwesterly and northerly. The final northern extent of this tollway lands in the northern suburbs, along the line between Lake and Cook Counties. Interstate 294 forms the southern fifty-two miles of the Tri-State Tollway, named because it's the fastest way to get between Wisconsin and Indiana, through Illinois. The interchange with Interstate 90 near Chicago's northwestern extent creates Interstate 190, the entrance to O'Hare International Airport. Every inch of Interstate 294 is a tollway operated by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (ISTHA).
Interstate 294 is labeled as a north-south highway, so exit numbers begin in the south and increase as travelers go north.
Interstate 294's southern beginning initially points travelers westward along Interstate 80, at a point where Interstate 94 joins Interstate 80 east toward the Indiana border. This is also the northern end of Illinois 394, situated about three miles west of the Indiana state line. Here's a pair of photos looking eastbound as Interstate 294 meets its southeastern end:
The first exit beyond Interstate 294's southern end is Exit 2A, for Illinois 1 northbound along Halsted Street...
The other half of the cloverleaf gives rise to Exit 2B, to Illinois 1 southbound along Halsted Street...
Exit 4 is for Dixie Highway, but access is only provided toward to/from the northwest on Interstate 294:
At Exit 5, Interstate 80 splits from Interstate 294, exiting to continue west toward Iowa, while Interstate 294 turns northerly toward Wisconsin:
Exit 6 is a collector/distributor lane to a cloverleaf with US Route 6, which runs along 159th Street:
Exit 8 is for Illinois 83, carried by Sibley Boulevard, but access is only provided to/from the north:
Exit 12A leads to Illinois 50 and Cicero Avenue south (the northbound offramp does this by putting travelers on 127th Street first):
Exit 12B leads to Illinois 50 and Cicero Avenue north (the southbound offramp does this by putting travelers on 127th Street first)...
Exit 17A leads to 95th Street eastbound, which carries US Routes 12 and 20 in that direction, toward Illinois 43:
Exit 17B leads to 95th Street westbound, which carries US Routes 12 and 20 in that direction (northbound ramps 17A and 17B are consolidated into one Exit 17):
Exit 22 is a fountain interchange to a piece of 75th Street that links to Willow Springs Road:
Exit 23A leads to Interstate 55 north into Chicago; note that drivers seeking to make the reverse movement, from I-55 south to I-294 south, can't do it at this interchange; they must use US Route 45 south at exit 279A to reach a ramp onto I-294 that sits a mile or so to the south...
Exit 23B leads to Interstate 55 south toward St. Louis. For southbound travelers, a single Exit 23 leads to a trumpet interchange connecting to Interstate 294:
Exit 27A is the first ramp at a cloverleaf to US Route 34 and Ogden Avenue, pointing drivers eastbound on that route:
Exit 27B is the latter ramp of the cloverleaf, leading to US Route 34 and Ogden Avenue west:
Exit 29, only having access to/from the south, is for an access road to Interstate 88 west, toward Aurora...
Exit 29 to/from the north is a completely separate interchange to Cermak Road. It probably should be marked as 29B or something:
Exit 30A leads to Illinois 38/Roosevelt Road eastbound, with access only provided to/from the south:
Exit 30B leads to Illinois 38/Roosevelt Road westbound, with access only provided to/from the south:
Exit 31 leads to Interstate 290 in both directions: west toward Rockford, and east toward Chicago:
Exit 31A, for southbound travelers only, leads to Interstate 88 west toward Aurora:
Exit 31B, for northbound travelers only, is how travelers access Interstate 290 eastward to Chicago:
Exit 38A is for Irving Park Road, carrying Illinois 19 eastbound, but access is only provided to/from the north...
Exit 38B is for Irving Park Road, carrying Illinois 19 westbound, but access is only provided to/from the north...
Exit 39 is for Balmoral Avenue, but access is only provided to/from the south:
Exit 40A leads to Interstate 190, the massive freeway-grade driveway into O'Hare:
Exit 40B is for Interstate 90, both westward toward Rockford and eastward toward Chicago. Northbound traffic only sees one big offramp labeled "Exit 40," as opposed to "40A" and "40B":
Exit 42A is for Touhy Avenue eastbound, but access is only provided to/from the south:
Exit 42B is for Touhy Avenue westbound, but access is only provided to/from the south:
Exit 44A is for Dempster Avenue, carrying US Route 14 eastbound, but access is only provided to/from the south:
Exit 44B is for Dempster Avenue, carrying US Route 14 westbound, but access is only provided to/from the south (yes, that's 4 ramps in a row that only access Interstate 294's southern leg):
Exit 45, only accessible to/from the north on Interstate 294, is for Illinois 58, also known as Golf Road:
Exit 48 is a full-diamond interchange, the only such interchange along all of Interstate 294, leading to Willow Road:
Exit 52 leads to Lake Cook Road, just as Interstate 294 is ending. The interchange also accesses Interstate 94's northern leg:
Interstate 294 ends as Interstate 94 comes from the east to join the Tri-State Tollway northbound. The Tri-State Tollway lasts until Interstate 94 reaches the Wisconsin border. This photo is taken heading southbound onto Interstate 294's northern beginning, but note that Interstate 94 doesn't actually end here; it just turns easterly. You can also see the highest mile marker posted for Interstate 294 in the background.