Best route from Brooklyn to I-80W in a big-ass truck?
May 28, 2013 6:05 AM   Subscribe

Moving out of Brooklyn (finally). As I see it, there are two basic options. Can you tell me which one is a better bet, and/or suggest an alternate route?

Mrs. Dr. Wu and I are moving out of Brooklyn in a few days, and will be packing all of our belongings into the biggest truck that Penske rents: a 26-footer, with a height of 12'1". We need to get to I-80 westbound, which we'll pick up in New Jersey.

We'll be leaving from Crown Heights, just east of the easternmost point of Prospect Park.

Since we don't have a car and are not familiar with traffic patterns or height restrictions, we're unsure of the best way to get to I-80. Can you please help me determine the best route? I'm particularly concerned about the height restrictions.

Here are the two main options, as I can figure it out from the official NYC truck route map. (Pretty big PDF file, but that's not a direct PDF link.)

Route #1
- Nostrand Avenue SOUTH to Church St
- Church St WEST to Prospect Park Expwy
- Prospect Park Expwy WEST to Gowanus Pkwy
- Gowanus Pkwy SOUTH to 278 EAST, crossing the Verrazano / Staten Island / Goethals Bridge
- 278 to 95 NORTH (NJ Turnpike)
- 95/NJT to I-80 westbound

The advantages of Route #1 would seem to be that it would avoid Manhattan traffic, and that it has more generous height restrictions. Disadvantages are that it is circuitous and expensive: the Verrazano and Goethals Bridge tolls are fairly steep.

Route #2
- Nostrand Avenue NORTH to Atlantic Avenue
- Atlantic Avenue WEST to 278 in Brooklyn Heights-ish
- 278 (BQE) NORTH/EAST all the way up through Brooklyn, Queens, and, via the Grand Central Pkwy, across Randall's Island
- 278 to 87 / Major Deegan NORTH/WEST to 95
- 95 WEST across Manhattan, across the George Washington Bridge, and into NJ
- 95 to I-80 WEST in NJ

The advantages of Route #2 is that it seems to be more direct, and has fewer tolls. But I'm worried about traffic and low bridges.

We hope to get on the road by about 1:00pm on Sunday, June 2. I'm hoping that midday Sunday traffic - on the weekend after a holiday weekend - won't be so bad.

It's going to be a busy, probably hot, stressful day of packing and driving a huge-ass vehicle, so the least stressful route is perhaps the best. Any thoughts? Thanks!
posted by Dr. Wu to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If there is any question of height clearance for your truck, any at all, rule that route out. Few things can take a stressful day and make it THE MOST STRESSFUL OF YOUR LIFE like getting your truck stuck under an overpass.
posted by telegraph at 6:07 AM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pretty sure you can't take a truck on the Grand Central. I would take the Triborough to the Deegan to the George.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:10 AM on May 28, 2013

Response by poster: telegraph, that NYC truck route map indicates that the height limit on the Grand Central is 12'6", and the truck is 12'1" (which I just confirmed by calling Penske). However, the map is a year old. I'm looking for precise, up-to-date info.

JohnnyGunn, my comment about the height limit is relevant to your remark, as well, but, unless I'm misreading it, your comment is actually self-contradictory, because to take the Triborough/RFK to the Deegan to the George would mean that I'd be taking the Grand Central Parkway, right?

There is, I believe, an alternate route, that would involve me taking Astoria Blvd INSTEAD of the GC Parkway for a short stretch between Exit 44 and the RFK Bridge on the BQE. Can anyone confirm if this route is viable/good/whatever?
posted by Dr. Wu at 6:20 AM on May 28, 2013

Best answer: If you have to make a choice between dealing with a fair amount of additional stress and paying a few extra dollars on tolls, choose to pay the extra money. Taking 278 is the absolutely lowest stress method of getting from Brooklyn to NJ.

Also, if you are intending to get off I-80 west of Parsippany, it will be better to take the NJ Turnpike to 280 West and take that to 80 and continue westbound.
posted by deanc at 6:33 AM on May 28, 2013

You can't take a truck on any road called a parkway, so the Gowanus Pkwy is out (so is the Grand Central).

Personally I would hop on the BQE as soon as possible and take that to the Verrazano and the Goethals. Trying to merge onto 95 from the Triboro in a truck is freaking me out just thinking about it, and I used to drive buses for a living.
posted by thecaddy at 7:42 AM on May 28, 2013

Best answer: Guys, you're wrong about the Grand Central. Trucks are allowed on the portion of it west of the BQE. Note the axle and size restrictions, don't know your truck's dimensions.

Also, the Gowanus is not a "Parkway" it's an "Expressway". You can go that way. I have driven a truck over this route and it's not too brutal. Consider using the Bayonne Bridge instead of the Goethals -- it's toll-free to NJ. You can then take 440 N to "US Truck 1-9" in NJ to either I-280 or I-95, both of which reach I-80, depending where you're going.

I would go via Staten Island -- the BQE is hard in a big truck and is worth avoiding.
posted by zvs at 7:58 AM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yes, according to the map, the Gowanus is OK for trucks. I mislabeled it a Parkway, but it is indeed an Expressway.

Thanks, everyone. deanc, thecaddy, and zvs: you have pretty much convinced me to stick with my Route #1. deanc's tip to go 95 --> 280 --> 80 seems like particularly good advice.
posted by Dr. Wu at 8:31 AM on May 28, 2013

You may want to consider getting a GPS app designed for commercial trucks, if you have a smartphone with GPS capability. They take into account truck height, width and weight and commercial vehicle restrictions when suggesting a route. I would follow the route you have selected, but have the GPS fired up in case you miss a turn or run into a detour. I think this will further reduce your stress levels while driving.
posted by Talk To Me Goose at 9:44 AM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, also, bear in mind that 280 is VERY hilly for a highway in the Northeast. Stay right and consider using your flashers if you haven't tried it before.
posted by zvs at 10:43 AM on May 28, 2013

I recently had an 18-wheeler get into Brooklyn from the south. It was... intense.

But yes. They took the Verrazano. It works.

And yes, we used the DOT website.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:58 AM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

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