In May 2024, I will be celebrating my 76th birthday, surrounded by friends and family and commemorating having just shot my age at Lost Marsh. This is my fantasy; write your own.
Leaving my Oak Forest apartment building (I took high-speed rail to the Sox victory over the Cubs last night on the 15-minute Metra express; that’s why I like living next to the station on the old Rock Island line), I find my car in the underground parking lot.
As I take my place in the command seat in my 2022 Ford Daley (made in Chicago Heights), the car recognizes me, molds the seat around me, sets the temperature and light levels, and prepares my coffee.
I verbally program my hands-free trip for the day on the in-dash computer (assembled in Hobart), then I smile as familiar physical markers begin to appear on the screen.
Then a delightful female voice on the computer greets me in a sultry voice and asks, “Where are we going today, oh great and wise one?”
I take a moment …
“Well, my dear, let’s tour the area. I’ve got an hour or so before my party. How about doing the southern loop?”
“Confirmed,” she says in an uplifting tone, and off we go.
As the Daley leaves the confines of the garage of the 15-story Oak Forest apartment complex, the little two-seater safely and silently merges into traffic on its way to I-57. I catch up with news, have my coffee and watch as we link up to I-57 just south of its connection with I-294 – known as the Rita Interchange – and proceeds south to I-80, past the Country Club Hills Hospitality megaplex where the interstates intersect, taking me east on I-80 past the world’s largest intermodal conglomerate, Mi Jack Corp., over the burgeoning intermodal yards and high-tech component assembly zones in Harvey and South Holland, the East-Hazel-Homewood-Crest Mirage/Trump complex on Halsted, across Lake Thornton and Recreation Area (used to be a quarry, as I recall), and onto the Kelly Parkway, or Ill. 394 as we old-timers remember it.
“Would you like a narrative today?” my Daley inquires.
“Why not? Let’s hear it?”
“Robin Kelly Parkway was expanded and enhanced with the completion of the Illiana Expressway, known commonly today as the Link, in 2019 and the opening of Lincoln International (aka, Abe Air) in 2020. As a consequence of both projects what you see along the parkway – warehousing and component assembly, interstate transportation services and sales, and support services in Glenwood, Lynwood , Ford Heights and Sauk Village – accounts for a day-time workforce population of more than 50,000.
"The structure to the east as we cross under Joe Orr Road is the clock tower announcing the recently expanded Lynwood town center (Williams Commons).”
We pick up speed now, passing the U.S. 30 interchange (also known as Paesel Corners) and its commercial corridor, past the Crete Business Park, the recently expanded Balmoral entertainment zone, Metra Southeast Station, and the outskirts of the airport development zone.
To no one’s surprise, the cars on the Illiana are matched by interstate trucks moving freight and containers from points east and south and the recently opened Crete/Centrepoint intermodal operation to the north.
And then the alarm goes off. I’m back in 2014, it’s snowing, and a planning meeting for the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corp. April forum in Park Forest awaits me.
Maybe I should share my “dream” with the keynote speakers — the Illinois Department of Transportation secretary, state aviation officials, Metra rail director and the Park Forest mayor.
Or maybe they’ll share theirs with the rest of us.