Driving from NJ to NH
September 6, 2005 8:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering a drive from NJ to NH, and there are various potential trouble spots on the way.

I'd like to visit some family this weekend and I'm trying to plan out a drive. Ultimately I hope to wind up in Wolfeboro, NH.

As a kid, I recall doing this by taking the Triboro bridge, catching 684 to 84 to the Mass Pike to 3 to 93.

Most of the online directions services want me to take the GWB to 91 and not pick up 84 until most of the way through CT. They also seem to prefer staying on the Mass Pike longer and catching 93 in MA.

I have a vague feeling that the Triboro doesn't back up as badly as the GWB, but I notice that 684 detours a bit inland and takes some more miles. I also think I remember that which highway we took to cross from MA to NH had to do with where traffic logjammed, but I don't know what the signals are to figure out which way is best.

Does 684 back up less than 95? Is it a better route / good alternate? What's the best way to get past Hartford? What is the best way to get from the Mass Pike into New Hampshire? Any tips and tricks from the locals?
posted by Karmakaze to Travel & Transportation (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
When I drive between NYC and Boston, I always do the NYC-95-91-84-Pike combination. It's the same way that most of the buses go, and it seems to be the quickest.

And yeah, just get on the Pike and take it all the way to Boston and onto 93 North. That 90-93 connection, part of the Big Dig, works great.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:05 AM on September 6, 2005


Out of NY, I usually do 95-91-84-pike. To get up to wolfeboro, I'd probably go 495-93.
posted by mfbridges at 8:10 AM on September 6, 2005


This thread, which I think is Maine to New York, might end up being helpful to you.
posted by selfnoise at 8:10 AM on September 6, 2005


Looking closer, it seems to be Mass Pike -> 290 -> 495 -> 93, which detours around Boston a little, which seems to make sense. I guess we used to catch 3 off of 495.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:15 AM on September 6, 2005


Hm. Folks in the ME-NJ thread seemed to feel pretty strongly about using the Tappan Zee. Maybe Tappan Zee (287) to 95 is better than the GWB?
posted by Karmakaze at 8:20 AM on September 6, 2005


I live near the Tappan Zee Bridge and travel to Boxford, Mass almost monthly. From Boxford, we frequently visit an in-law in Manchester, NH. Here's what I would do:

Tappan-Zee, 287 to Saw Mill Parkway to 684 to 84 to Mass Pike to 95.

I always avoid taking 95 through CT if I can help it.

The Eastbound lanes on the Tappan Zee can get pretty backed up during morning rush hour but mid-day it is usually okay. Saw Mill traffic should be alright heading North. Most SMP traffic heads towards NYC in the morning.
posted by mds35 at 8:32 AM on September 6, 2005


Mds35 is exactly right on, imho.
posted by selfnoise at 8:37 AM on September 6, 2005


I would avoid 95 as well as 84 through west CT. I went to school in Boston for a few years and used to commute to new jersey regularly.

My favorite path in the end was:

Garden state pwy
287 (Tappen Zee) to
Merit Pkwy/Route 15
to 91
84
mass pike 90

To NH I would go
to 95 (exit 14 I think)
then 93

Tappen Zee is definitely superior to crossing the hudson closer to Manhattan. The advantage of 15 over 684/84 is that it is a nicer, more direct drive and has less chance of getting backed up (84).
posted by blueyellow at 8:47 AM on September 6, 2005


Try not to do it on Friday afternoon (if you can help it,) as all 3 major routes through Western CT will be stop-and-go nightmares. Any other time, the Merritt is probably your best choice time-wise.
posted by Opposite George at 9:44 AM on September 6, 2005


I like mds35's route, too. The Saw Mill makes for a much more pleasant route out of New York.
posted by bcwinters at 10:03 AM on September 6, 2005


Triboro > North on the Hutch (Hutchinson River Parkway) > the Merrit Parkway north (Rt. 15) > 91 North > in Hartford pick up 84 West > 90 East (Mass. Pike) > 290 East > 495 North > 93 North.

Stay away from 95.
posted by anathema at 12:29 PM on September 6, 2005


Or take another bridge suggested by others and hook-up with the Merritt. Just stay away from 95 at all costs.
posted by anathema at 12:31 PM on September 6, 2005


Btw, taking the 290 shortcut saves about ten-fifteen minutes around Worcester.
posted by anathema at 12:32 PM on September 6, 2005


Others are saying Mass. Pike to 95. That's inefficient in many ways. Don't go all the way to 95/128, go north on 495.
posted by anathema at 12:33 PM on September 6, 2005


Damn! Should be 84 EAST in my original post. Sorry. You don't need to be going to Waterbury!
posted by anathema at 12:37 PM on September 6, 2005


Opps, looks like you already answered this one for yourself, Karma. Anyway, I obviously agree.
posted by anathema at 12:39 PM on September 6, 2005


Good advice throughout. I did a similar drive (two cars) in July--on the way up, 84 was a traffic nightmare, and the car that took the Merritt to 91 to 84 saved a lot of time. On the way home, we tried to go 91 to 95, but I-95 was a mess as usual, and we took the Merritt back down. I-84 isn't fun through Waterbury and Hartford but it's far more reliable than 95. I always take the Tappan Zee too.
posted by werty at 1:34 PM on September 6, 2005


My preference on the 90-to-495 part is to just stay on 90 until you get to 495. 290 goes right through Worcester, and can get busy. The slightly longer route (not using 290) is almost always just as fast. Then go to the (newly widened) Rte3 north. You'll need $1.50 for NH tolls, each way. If you're going to do this again, buy $5 worth of NH tokens at the toll booth; they're the equivalent of $10 in quarters (only good in NH, though).

And God, no, don't go all the way into Boston.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:40 PM on September 6, 2005


What blueyellow said. Take 287 up to NYS, then take the Tappan Zee, etc. Avoid the NYC congestion.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:41 PM on September 6, 2005


I can personally attest to blueyellow's Route 15 suggestion. In NY, it's the Hutchinson Parkway, and then it CT, it turns to the Merritt Parkway, and after exit 54, it turns into the Wilbur Cross Parkway. (I don't know exactly why it has so many names either.) It's a much nicer (and more direct) drive than 95 to 91, and it will put you on 91 just south of Hartford (IIRC, it's around Exit 18 on 91).

Actually, I've driven to NH a few times, and the rest of those directions look familiar as well, although it's been awhile.

I've lived my entire live in Bridgeport, CT about a mile from 95, so I know all too well the traffic pain in the area. Every time I'd go to a concert or something in Hartford, we'd always take Route 15 to I-91 - taking 95 to 91 would easily add 30-40 minutes to the drive, even in the best traffic conditions. It's all about keeping a straight line, yanno?

Also, a bit of trivia about Route 15 from my HS Driver's Ed teacher: It was the first parkway in the nation, and the reason it is so curvy and some of the on-ramps so short is because when it was built, the cars didn't go as fast and therefore didn't need wider curves and longer on-ramps to gain speed to merge into traffic. Of course, he could have been blowing smoke up our butts, but it's a cute theory.
posted by AlisonM at 7:06 PM on September 6, 2005


Oh, and I just noticed this in the first comment: I always do the NYC-95-91-84-Pike combination. It's the same way that most of the buses go, and it seems to be the quickest.

The buses have to take that route because they're not allowed on Route 15 (it's a Parkway w/ low overpasses), but if you're in a car/SUV, Route 15 is most definitely quicker.
posted by AlisonM at 7:10 PM on September 6, 2005


If you're going to do this again, buy $5 worth of NH tokens at the toll booth; they're the equivalent of $10 in quarters

Just a heads up, we're no longer selling toll tokens in NH. If you've got them you can use them until this coming December, otherwise it's EZ Pass or cash only.
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:37 AM on September 7, 2005


Thanks for the report, schoolgirl. No thanks, however, to NHHD.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:57 AM on September 7, 2005


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