Band vs. Jersey vacation hordes
May 27, 2010 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Driving on a tight timeline from NYC to Philadelphia on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend: are we screwed or really screwed?

Tomorrow my band is supposed to play a gig in north Philly. We've been planning on hitting the road in Brooklyn at around 6:30 or 7pm. Our set time in Philly is 10:15pm. At the moment, we're looking at taking the I-95 down. Normally, the drive would take around 2-2.5 hours, but my co-worker just gave me her opinion that, with the ridiculous holiday traffic, we will never make it on that schedule.

So what say you? Do you think this is a do-able drive? Have you had direct experience doing this drive on a holiday weekend? If you have, how long do you think we need to make it to Philly? Are there any alternate routes that might be better?

It would be difficult for some band members to leave earlier, but we can try to make that happen if it seems like we must leave earlier.
posted by otolith to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total)
I've done that trip a bunch of times. I don't remember the trip EVER taking longer than 3 hours, but the worst I've ever seen was rush hour.
posted by Lizsterr at 2:00 PM on May 27, 2010

Doable. Allow 3 comfortable hours. The NJ turnpike will be rough but you won't hit traffic heading into Philly that late in the evening.
posted by eugenen at 2:04 PM on May 27, 2010

I also made that trip many times when I lived in Brooklyn. My worst times were on holiday weekends (specifically the Wednesday before Thanksgiving), and could take anywhere from 3 - 4 hours. The good news is that most people leave New York early on holiday weekends, so you may find that the traffic has died down a bit by 6:30.

Also, I'm sure you know this, but I95 goes near, but not actually to Philly. I made that mistake once and ended up in Wilmington. Oops.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 2:07 PM on May 27, 2010

I predict that you'll spend as much time in traffic getting out of the city as you will driving on the Turnpike. The only thing to be concerned about is the 8A merge where the cars/trucks roadways merge together. That can suck. Otherwise, it is usually smooth sailing.

I95 most definitely goes through the eastern part of Philadelphia. The NJ Turnpike does not.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 2:25 PM on May 27, 2010

Also, I'm sure you know this, but I95 goes near, but not actually to Philly. I made that mistake once and ended up in Wilmington. Oops.

Must be a different Interstate 95 than the one I'm familiar with. The one that enters Philly near Woodhaven Road and exits Philly just below the stadium area in South Philly. Three hours should be fine.
posted by fixedgear at 2:26 PM on May 27, 2010

Weird. What the fuck did I do to end up in Wilmington?
posted by Nothing... and like it at 2:32 PM on May 27, 2010

Nothing.... I think you have the turnpike confused with 95. They are the same road in north Jersey, but not as you approach Philly.
posted by caddis at 2:43 PM on May 27, 2010

Upon checking the map, it seems that is exactly what I did.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 2:49 PM on May 27, 2010

If you're concerned about timing...

Subway to Penn Station, Amtrak to Philly's Amtrak station (forget its name), cab to bar.

Depending on the amount of stuff you're carrying that may be more of a pain in the ass. But it's one option.
posted by dfriedman at 3:15 PM on May 27, 2010

Doable, but give yourself 3 hours to be sure. The worst of the traffic will be at the start of your trip, but should lighten up around 8:00 or so. Most people leave work early for the start of a holiday weekend, so that's in your favor. If people are going to the shore, it's right after work, few people leave at 8:00, IYKWIM.

Ideally, borrow a Tom Tom or similar gps unit that updates realtime for traffic and that could help with alternate routes if it gets really bad.
posted by NoraCharles at 3:19 PM on May 27, 2010

Quite possibly screwed.
posted by The Straightener at 5:50 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, guys. My co-worker insisted that the 95 would be a parking lot, but she has been known to exaggerate once or twice. I think we'll stick with the plan and hope for the best.
posted by otolith at 6:29 PM on May 27, 2010

Response by poster: Aw Straightener, rainin' on the parade.
posted by otolith at 6:32 PM on May 27, 2010

Could not one or two band members who are able to leave earlier do so in the bandmobile, while the others take, as dfriedman suggests, subway / Amtrak?*

I have never been to NY or NJ.
posted by tivalasvegas at 6:44 PM on May 27, 2010

Well, your margin for error on a holiday weekend is real thin, all it would take is an accident on the BQE or the Turnpike and the backup is going to be bonkers. It took me four hours to get from the Staten Island side of the Verazano to Williambsurg once, and that wasn't even a holiday.
posted by The Straightener at 6:45 PM on May 27, 2010

Response by poster: We made it! We tried to get everyone together to leave at 6, which of course didn't happen. We didn't leave Brooklyn until 7. Hit a few slow areas going across the Verazzano and Staten Island and then a few more slow spots on the 95, but nothing too bad. The traffic never stopped moving. Made it to Philly at around 9:20. I think it's true that a lot of the holiday rush goes through earlier in the day.
posted by otolith at 7:12 AM on May 29, 2010

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