Get Me to the Wedding On Tiiiiiime (DC to NYC edition)
May 14, 2014 5:14 PM   Subscribe

Hi, wonderful Mefites! I am thinking of driving from DC to New York City for a wedding next Thursday (the 22nd). Google tells me that driving time (from DC to an address on W 159th) is just shy of 4 hours. Considering that this will be a weekend, and holiday weekend, what is a more realistic driving time? (extra driver snowflakes inside)

I am especially concerned about the quality (speed and stop and go) of traffic coming into New York. While I'm a good long-distance driver on highways, due to disability, if I have 1 or 2 hours driving up 95 and THEN ALSO stop and go traffic going into the city, fatigue takes a toll on my endurance and reaction time. I have not been able to find another driver to share the trip. My alternative is to take a bus into the city, which I know traffic time will also affect.

Any of your thoughts on

(1) the realistic time for this trip
(2) the nature of traffic going into NYC and over the GW bridge
(3) if I am driving, best routes

would be much appreciated. Thanks!
posted by warm_planet to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)
Best answer: I've done a decent amount of driving on that stretch of 95; on Thanksgiving weekend, that trip took me about 8 hours.

There are some alternative routes- if you want to avoid Baltimore, take 301; you could also take 78 up through PA to avoid New Jersey. The Turnpike can be awful on holiday weekends. But once you get close to New York, you're going to get backed up getting there no matter which way you go. Try to not get there during either rush hour if you can (yes, it's bad, even going "the wrong way".)

In any case, I don't think the Thursday will be *that* bad, and at least in NJ you're going upstream to the holiday traffic (there will be shore traffic in NJ), but I would still budget some extra time-- definitely at least 5 hours, be ready for closer to 6; expect to spend a decent amount of time attempting to cross the Delaware.

If the train is an option at all, I would consider doing that.
posted by damayanti at 5:24 PM on May 14, 2014

Oh, adding to the mess- I'm not currently in the area, so I can't say for sure, but the Pulaski Skyway is closed northbound for repairs, so traffic on the other routes into the city has likely increased.
posted by damayanti at 5:29 PM on May 14, 2014

Just used the Bolt Bus to do the reverse trip a couple weeks ago. Getting back to New York took us about 4 and a half hours. That was with Monday afternoon traffic, just beating rush hour back into town. I wouldn't expect coming in to the city that Thursday night to be too bad...most traffic should be in the opposite direction, with New Yorkers getting out of town for the long weekend.

Should you choose to go the bus route, the Bolt buses are pretty comfortable and have both wifi and power outlets. Pretty sure there are a few other similar lines (Mega Bus is another I think) that are comparable.
posted by JaredSeth at 5:45 PM on May 14, 2014

The thing is that it is just not predictable. I have done it in 4 hours on a summer weekend, but it has also taken about 7 with 4 hours of stop and go. Since it sounds like a significant risk for you due to disability, I would recommend checking out either the bus, train, or even flight options as other posters mentioned.
posted by seesom at 6:22 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you considered taking a train? I know you may have reasons not to that you haven't stated but I would take the train for that trip over a bus or car any day.

If you do drive I think that if you're going on Thursday and assuming you're not traveling in sync with any rush-hour traffic, you could allot 5 hours or so and that would cover it. Traffic would likely be pretty stop and go by the bridge though. My SO also points out that there is a section of NJ turnpike just north of Trenton that is always slow since they're doing long term construction.
posted by mlle valentine at 7:06 PM on May 14, 2014

(Do expect to allow longer for the return trip if it's on one of the peak holiday days. I think I have been on the bus between NY and DC for up to 6 or 7 hours, yipes.)
posted by mlle valentine at 7:09 PM on May 14, 2014

Unless cost is prohibitive, I, too, would recommend taking the train, especially since you'll have to worry about parking your car in NYC, which is either expensive (garage) or potentially a pain (street).
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:16 PM on May 14, 2014

Sure four hours is possible in theory, but highly doubtful on a weekday that touches upon any portion of rush hour of NYC or DC. (We drove from Silver Spring to Harlem in 4 hours, 15 min. in March, but this was in the late evening.) Parking uptown should not be an issue.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:31 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd give it 6 hours. I have done DC to NY probably about 50-odd times at this point. There is always traffic getting out of DC. Getting through Manhattan always takes longer than you think. It is not abnormal for a trip to take ~5 hours even mid-day on a weekday. I always take the bus, though.
posted by quadrilaterals at 8:52 PM on May 14, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the info, everyone. Looks like it will be the bus for me, this trip.
posted by warm_planet at 7:37 AM on May 15, 2014

Book early. Thursday should be OK but the buses can fill up fast at popular times.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 8:26 AM on May 15, 2014

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