Best route from Hartford, CT to Washington, DC
July 25, 2012 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Driving a 14-foot UHaul from Hartford, CT to Washington, DC area (specifically Silver Spring/Takoma Park, MD) this Saturday, July 28. Route suggestions?

Google is quoting between 6-7 hours, depending on road selection. I can live with that, but not sure what roads are preferable considering traffic, truck restrictions, etc. Don't some of the parkways in/around NYC and NJ restrict trucks? Does that apply to this 14-footer? How to avoid?

95 the whole way? Tappan Zee Bridge? Drift west into PA to avoid Philadelphia metro area and other congestion?

We are interested in making the trip as fast as possible. Not at all interested in stopping for diversions along the way.
posted by TurkishGolds to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (12 answers total)
Response by poster: Also, FYI: Plan to leave Hartford in the morning, probably around 8AM.
posted by TurkishGolds at 7:45 AM on July 25, 2012

Unless you have trepidations about driving a truck, I would just go 95 the whole way, OR, if you want to avoid the occasional craziness of NY metro traffic, go 84 W to 87 S (NY Thruway) to 287 to 95 in NJ. That saves a few tolls, puts you in thinner traffic, but adds about an hour to the travel time per Google. However, that hour is easily consumed on 95 if there are backups around NYC. Do avoid the parkways, they don't allow trucks.
posted by beagle at 8:01 AM on July 25, 2012

IN NY, if it is a Parkway, your truck or commercial vehicle cannot go on it. Likely too, the road bridges that cross that parkway will be too low for your truck to pass without it opening up like a sardine can.

If it were me, off the top of my head, I would take 84 to 684 to 95 across the George Washington Bridge to the NJ Turnpike to the Delaware Memorial Bridge down 95 to Silver Spring. There will be some traffic, but with a U-Haul it will be the easiest route. Stay on 95 the whole way. Hardest part will be on 95 in the Bronx leading up to the GW Bridge. Lanes are not that wide and people like me drive real aggressively.

Taking the Tap, while probably easier in terms of actual driving than the George, is unnecessary and will add 15-20 minutes over taking 95 the whole way.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:03 AM on July 25, 2012

Seconding 84/864 over 91 to get to 95. There's construction on the Cross-Bronx Expressway right now, and closures on the GWB, but they will supposedly be clear by Saturday. I've taken beagle's 87/287 route before, and it's definitely less stressful driving.

295/895 south of Philly tends to be a better option than 95 through the city itself. If Baltimore traffic sounds problematic by the time you reach Wilmington, you can head south on US 301 and get to DC via Annapolis.
posted by holgate at 8:13 AM on July 25, 2012

Leaving at 8AM you may still run into residual NYC rush traffic on 95.

I'd take 84 west to 684, down to 287 and cross the T-Z ... then either go down the Garden State to the NJ Tpke to 95. I would avoid the GWB just on general principle; if a butterfly sneezes in the wrong direction you can be sitting there forever.

If you want a more relaxed drive or if traffic looks bad on the Garden State / NJT / 95, you can take the "inland route" through Harrisburg. This adds about 45 minutes to an hour to the total trip, in my experience. You just stay on 287 after you cross the T-Z and then take 78 west through Allentown to Harrisburg. There, you can either take Rt 15 (very scenic) down through Gettysburg to Frederick and 270, or 81 south to Hagerstown. You'll enter the Beltway from 270, which can be good or bad depending on where in the DC area you're going. N.B. there are fewer rest areas this way.

Typically I will take the latter route back and forth to New England when I am not in a huge rush and would prefer not to arrive all road-ragey from spending hours on 95 fighting heavy traffic. But when I really need to make good time, I'll do the GS/NJT/95 thing. The earlier you can leave in the morning, the better. I've done DC to Hartford in about 6 hours, leaving DC at 3:30-4AM, but typically budget 8 during the day.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:44 AM on July 25, 2012

The Garden State Parkway prohibits trucks north of Exit 105, so you'll need to avoid that. My advice would be to go 84 to 684 to 287, cross the Tappan-Zee, then STAY on 287, following it down and around until it hooks up with the Jersey Turnpike at Exit 10. Then take the NJT to 295 in Delaware to 95, etc. That's the route I took with a similar-sized truck, 9 years ago, and it worked great.

The other choice, should you want to avoid traffic and tunnels and most tolls, would be to take 287 to 78, take 78W to 81S, then take 81 into Maryland where you can pick up 70 to take you to 270, which will take you to the Beltway not far from Silver Spring/Takoma Park. It's a longer but often more pleasant route to take.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:53 AM on July 25, 2012

Please note that 684 does not go all the way to 95. It ends at 287, and to get to 95, you have to either take the Hutchinson River Parkway - which does not allow trucks - or 287 west to 87 south, at which point you're right at the Tappan Zee Bridge, so you might as well just go that way. You also can't take a truck on the GSP.

Anyway, I think cerebus19 has it. 684 to 287, over the Tappan Zee, follow 287 all the way to 95/Turnpike, Turnpike over the Delaware Memorial, 95 into DC.
posted by breakin' the law at 9:01 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

As an aside, are there any GPS devices or Apps that will allow you to choose routes based on criteria like No trucks, or no Haz Mats?
posted by Gungho at 9:22 AM on July 25, 2012

Something to be aware of is there is a truck/trailers-only toll on 287 (or maybe 87) on that route. (pic). It's very easy to blissfully ignore it and cruise with all the cars, then get a ticket later.
posted by smackfu at 9:25 AM on July 25, 2012

You could buy a GPS specifically for RVs/Trucks (Google RV GPS) but that seems like a lot for one trip. Honestly, the interstate has always been way easier for me in a Uhaul than any other route else because it's big and open and has plenty of lanes for me to move over when I'm going too slow. I'd get on 95 and take it the whole way.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:38 AM on July 25, 2012

If you do end up on the NJ Turnpike, and the traffic is too much to take, you can get off at exit 7A and take 195 west to 295 South - it's a much less-travelled highway that brings you right to the Delaware Memorial Bridge. I have family down in MD, so I always switch over to 295 instead of taking the Turnpike the whole way.
posted by MsVader at 10:39 AM on July 25, 2012

Regarding Philly, just stay on the New Jersey Turnpike all the way through New Jersey to the Delaware Memorial Bridge. I think it becomes 295 at some point, or maybe becomes just "The New Jersey Turnpike" without the 95 designator, but regardless it merges back with 95 just after you cross over the bridge into Delaware. Here's a Google Map of that section.

Here's another alternative that skips NYC and Philly altogether, and skirts Baltimore too, and goes from the Tappan Zee to 287 to 78, heads West diverging near Allentown, PA, and then goes through Reading and Lancaster, cutting south from York. Google says it adds about 10 minutes to the Tappan Zee to 95/Jersey Turnpike route, and the reduced aggravation would be worth it. Bonus: a stop in Amish country for lunch!
posted by The Michael The at 12:57 PM on July 25, 2012

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