On the Streets of Philadelphia
April 3, 2012 10:43 AM   Subscribe

PhillyFilter: Please help me know what to expect when I drive to Memorial Hall/Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, from the south.

Tomorrow I'll be headed to a conference at Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park, scheduled for 9 AM-4 PM. Parking will be provided for a fee. It looks like I will be taking I-95 North to 676 West and then 76 West to Avenue of the Republic. I feel comfortable driving in suburbia and on freeways, but I have only driven in Philly once before. Apparently the area I'm visiting is not terribly easy to access with public transportation - let me know if I'm wrong!
How bad is traffic likely to be? How early should I leave to account for rush hour traffic? With normal traffic it would take an hour and 15 min.
posted by QryHavoq to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (9 answers total)
Yeah, there's not great access to there by SEPTA; the 40 bus is really the only option. If you're coming from beyond the city and driving anyway, I'd definitely drive. The exit (Exit 342) off of 76 West ("The Schuylkill") puts you on 34th St headed north; all you need to do is go straight through the first intersection (34th St and Girard Ave), down the hill, straight through the stop sign, and up the hill, at that point, you'll be in sight of Memorial Hall.

There may be a bit of traffic, but once you pass Girard Ave, you're in Fairmount park, and it's only a mile from the offramp to Memorial Hall itself. There's usually not much traffic on 676 headed west in the mornings, either; if you see some, it'll be on 95 North.
posted by The Michael The at 11:04 AM on April 3, 2012

76 is heavily bottlenecked, with many on/off ramps. This means if anything goes wrong, the entire thing turns into an inchworm of a traffic jam. Otherwise steady progress (maybe 35 mph avg) You're not going to be on it very long, and you'll be missing the stretch of it that runs along center city. I'd give myself maybe 30-35 extra mins, because hell, why not.

I personally take the exit just after the airport on 95 to get onto 76W- but the bridge on that route is currently down to one lane each way, and can get congested as well. Just think of it as an option if 95 is crawling.
posted by MangyCarface at 11:05 AM on April 3, 2012

I-676 westbound in the morning can be pretty awful, and IIRC the connection between I-95 and I-676 is a little weird and involve local streets.

I'm not sure what the traffic is like coming up I-95 in the morning, but I'd go I-95 to I-76 near the Walt Whitman. Traffic on I-76 until you get to UPenn may be messy, but after it should be OK at that hour, since you'll be going against the flow.
posted by chengjih at 11:06 AM on April 3, 2012

Yeah, there's only one bus that goes out that way. I actually think you should be able to find free area -- to my knowledge, the area is not metered (I could be wrong because I don't know specifically where Memorial Hall is, just where Avenue of the Republic is). You probably want to avoid 676 -- if you're coming from the south, you actually hit in south Philly and can get on there. 76 is always backed up at that time. Where are you coming from (Delaware maybe)? When I'm driving somewhere during rush hour around here, I double the length of time it should take and add 15 minutes (if it actually matters if I'm on time).
posted by DoubleLune at 11:07 AM on April 3, 2012

IIRC the connection between I-95 and I-676 is a little weird and involve local streets.

No, it's just a normal onramp. You may be thinking of going directly from I-95 to I-76, which necessitates driving up Penrose Ave to 26th St to the highway.
posted by The Michael The at 11:11 AM on April 3, 2012

Here's the penrose option I was proposing. Only tricky part is the merge onto 76 after penrose.
posted by MangyCarface at 11:43 AM on April 3, 2012

Thanks so much everyone! I am skimming quickly because I'm at work, so I haven't selected a strategy yet.
I will be coming from Delaware.
posted by QryHavoq at 12:27 PM on April 3, 2012

We were just in Philly a few weeks ago and while I can't advise on routes I can say that as someone who's driven in Seattle, Portland and SF the Philly traffic tends to be more laissez faire about things like signaling when merging, adhering to the speed limit and "driving defensively". We went through Delaware a few times on our trip and the traffic there was way more chill. You'll be fine since it's not a permanent life change but I wasn't expecting that kind of traffic.
posted by fiercekitten at 7:45 PM on April 3, 2012

Ha. And if you're on 76, expect to be tailgated.

The Penrose thing MangyCarface suggests is good *if* there's no traffic. If there's traffic, it's utter hell. I've only driven that way in evening rush hour, but I'd bet it's just as bad in the morning.

I would go this way.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:05 PM on April 3, 2012

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