van driving in NY
September 3, 2008 4:11 AM   Subscribe

Which highways (or roads) should i avoid while driving a van in NY?

I need to move some stuff from the city to upstate NY with a van (15'-17' long). It is a 20 miles drive. How do i determine which highways are commercial? I don't want to have a ticket. Mapquest has an option as "avoid highways". Would that help me? Or through which source or website can i get the correct route? Thank you.
posted by raphael19 to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (8 answers total)
Best answer: Where upstate?

Take the Deagan (87) North to the Tappan Zee and follow signs for the Thruway North. You are good to go. You need to avoid anything that says Parkway. Do not take the West Side Highway North of 56th street. No FDR either.

If you avoid the Henry Hudson, the Saw Mill the Sprain, the Taconic, The Bronx River and any other Parkway, you will be fine and legal.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:22 AM on September 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Once you've managed to not get a ticket by avoiding the parkways as advised above, your next issue is the height of the vehicle - not the length. Be aware of your height (I'm guessing it's a rental) as there are a number of low-ish overpasses in the northern suburbs/Westchester. You may need to be in the left lane to ensure you have enough clearance.

Let us know where upstate (though 20 miles won't even get you out of Westchester or Rockland and they're not really considered upstate) and I'm pretty sure JohnnyGunn or I could assist further.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 4:32 AM on September 3, 2008

This isn't an answer but an ancillary question for someone who's ignorant. As a non American, why does it matter what roads you drive on with a van (beyond those with low bridges, etc)? It sounds like there's some sort of legal angle to this and I'm intrigued!
posted by wackybrit at 5:29 AM on September 3, 2008

Best answer: wackybrit, many U.S. highways, especially those designated "parkways" for their alleged scenic qualities are restricted to non-commercial traffic only. A rented moving van is usually considered a commercial vehicle. Also commercial traffic is restricted in some highly trafficked areas, like the West Side Highway and the FDR drive which run on either side of Manhattan.
posted by Jahaza at 5:34 AM on September 3, 2008

Best answer: With a van you should be able to go on any highway/expressway/parkway without incident unless you're pulling a trailer, which you'll probably get pulled over for and should stick to expressways. The problem comes when you're driving a commercial vehicle such as a tractor-trailer or box truck or bus which are commonly overheight or overweight and need to go on roadways that have the clearances or bridges that will accommodate them. In New York, on roads designated as parkways, there are a lot of low clearances that a commercial vehicle will get stuck under or worse.
posted by knowles at 5:37 AM on September 3, 2008

What time of day, day of the week, and what part of upstate?
posted by Damn That Television at 6:36 AM on September 3, 2008

Best answer: Avoid the GWB, at any time, under any conditions (unless you hear of an accident). Follow JohnnyGunn's advice and take the Tappen Zee.
posted by spoons at 7:01 AM on September 3, 2008

Best answer: There are only a few ways of actually getting into Manhattan. The GWB is always a bad option--I've spent upwards of 3 hours trying to cross it--but you want to watch your clearance in the tunnels so that this doesn't happen to you.

The Lincoln Tunnel is 13' high.
The Holland Tunnel 12' 6".
The Queens Midtown and Brooklyn Battery Tunnels are both 12' 1".

In addition, the clearance on the GWB is 14' on the upper level and 13' 5" on the lower level.

Just be sure to check the stats on your truck.
posted by valkyryn at 7:25 AM on September 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

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