How can I get from point A to point B while avoiding crowd C?
May 18, 2009 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Memorial Day Traffic Filter: Are there any resources out there (either online or widely available for purchase in stores) that provide tips on getting around by car while avoiding horrible traffic (particularly along the New York-Philadelphia-Baltimore-DC corridor)?

Out of sheer necessity I will be driving relatively long distances (150 miles+) this Memorial Day weekend, probably either Friday afternoon just after 5 pm (yay rush hour) or early Saturday afternoon. I will also be driving on Memorial Day as well.

My particular voyage will be Philadelphia to DC on either Friday or Saturday, followed by a return trip to Philly from Columbia, MD on Monday.

The prospect of crawling to DC in rush hour, Friday afternoon, pre-Memorial Day is killing my dream of making it to DC on Friday for an earlier meet up with family. If there is any way that this traffic can be avoided, you have saved my weekend.

Personal tips also gladly welcomed.
posted by Deathalicious to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
Best answer: If you can make the drive early Saturday morning, I strongly advise that. As you suspect, that drive on the Friday afternoon/evening before Memorial Day will be hell. Alternately, Amtrak is a little expensive but might be worth it.

After too many massive traffic jams headed up to NYC from DC, I don't do I-95 on Fridays (traffic going south looked just as bad). I don't think any of the side roads will be reliably-traffic free either.
posted by exogenous at 2:33 PM on May 18, 2009

I have driven from DC to NYC and back on holiday weekends a number of times. My current tactic is to get up at 4:30 and leave by 5. I haven't seen much or any traffic doing that, except for one early accident. Plus, the baby sleeps most of the way.
posted by procrastination at 2:35 PM on May 18, 2009

Response by poster: My current tactic is to get up at 4:30 and leave by 5.

Interesting data point: times of departure are not under my control.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:40 PM on May 18, 2009

Outbound traffic from Philadelphia on summer Fridays is always worst heading towards the Jersey shore (Atlantic City, etc.). Keep this in mind when plotting your route.
posted by madcaptenor at 3:16 PM on May 18, 2009

I second exogenous on the Amtrak option. It's 1 1/2 hours from Philly to the station at BWI airport, which is 20 minutes away from Columbia (assuming someone could come pick you up).

Otherwise, prepare yourself for the suckage. Saturday afternoon might not be a bad trip, but Monday will be heinous.
posted by clpage at 5:04 PM on May 18, 2009

Best answer: One timesaver - you might want to get off I-95 at Newark and take US-40 toward Elkton, MD before getting back on 95. The toll plaza leaving Delaware is a huge backup normally (even with EZPass - it's just the way the lanes are configured) - I'm sure it's even worse Memorial Day weekend.
posted by candyland at 5:16 PM on May 18, 2009

Best answer: I have to agree with candyland. If you can't control the time you leave then 40 for some or all of the way may be your best bet. I have taken 40 a few times. It is slow, but 95 was at a standstill because of accidents and/or awful traffic, so it was faster in the end. Heading south, it gets better the further from Delaware you are, plus you avoid the Delaware tolls which are exorbitant for the distance they cover. If you have some way to access Google Maps while you are driving you can also look at the traffic overlay to see where the worst of the 95 traffic is.
posted by procrastination at 6:50 PM on May 19, 2009

Response by poster: We ended up leaving on Saturday, traffic was fine and we took 95 the whole way down. Today, traffic was much heavier and we detoured to 40 as recommended. It definitely cut down on our travel time. Thanks!
posted by Deathalicious at 2:19 PM on May 25, 2009

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