SW Connecticut to Otisfield, ME on a Friday afternoon in August
August 8, 2017 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I'm heading up to Otisfield, ME in a couple of weeks from Southwest CT. I've done the drive before but have always done the 91/90/495/95 slog. Unfortunately, I am leaving Norwalk, CT at around 5pm (hahahahaha...sob). I've resigned myself to accept that I will be sitting in traffic, but in an effort to make the drive a little nicer, I thought I'd try 91N to 302 across NH into ME.

Given the date (Friday 8/18) and the time (late afternoon), is this a good idea? Will I end up crawling on a 2-lane highway behind ski-boats the whole way east? Are the roads easily navigable? Any recommendations on if this is a good idea are much welcome.

Thanks, MeFites!
posted by sundrop to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
If you're not leaving until late afternoon you'll be driving Rt. 302 at (at best) dusk and most likely after dark. While plenty of people drive the up there at night just fine, moose are very common and very dangerous. The main advantage of those roads is that they're scenic and you'll miss all that after dark.

If you can leave at a time when you're guaranteed to drive Rt. 302 when it's still light, I'd say go for it. After one collision (on Rt. 2 out of Gorham, not far from 302) and several close calls (at least two on 302) with moose I would not recommend driving it after dark if you can avoid it.

I think you're going to slog from CT to NH or VT or ME no matter what route you take but once you get up North traffic will settle down a bit.

In my experience driving North on many a Friday afternoon, if you can't leave very early then you're often just as well not leaving until after dinner. You'll miss most of the traffic and not arrive much later.

I might take 91 to Rt. 202 and cut over to Concord. From there take 93 up to Rt. 104 to Merideth and work your way over to Conway via Rt. 24 and 113 (through Moultenborough and Tamworth) then continue over to Maine. It will allow you to do most of your driving outside of moose country after dark.
posted by bondcliff at 12:03 PM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can't speak to the route as a whole, but there has been terrible traffic on I-91 through Springfield, MA because of road construction pretty much around-the-clock. I've only hit it at non-rush-hour times and it's been bad. Waze has been pretty good about inventing detours around Springfield.
posted by TurkishGolds at 12:03 PM on August 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

Google Maps seems spookily accurate for this sort of thing (although maybe not in rural areas--don't know). Try plugging in your departure time and drag the route to your chosen roads, and see what it estimates for your travel time.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:05 PM on August 8, 2017

I agree with TurkishGolds.

They are rebuilding the raised part of I-91 that passes through Springfield, so traffic is reduced from three lanes to two until 2018(!).

It may have cleared out some that night by the time you get to Springfield, but, be aware there WILL be delays in that section. Good luck!
posted by Hanuman1960 at 12:12 PM on August 8, 2017

I have done more or less your drive, starting at Lebanon NH to Oxford ME/Otisfield (Thompson Lake). I didn't take 302, but connected with it at Conway NH/Fryburg ME.

Doing it in the summer, the sticky points were just at Winnipesaukee where 104 hits 3 and 25. This was during summer lake season time.

For you, getting to NH - 91 is usually awful until you get past Hartford, but usually once past that it was smooth sailing.

(Edit to add: depending on where you're going, finding 121 off of 117 at night, well, yeah, no signs, blew past it, but knew how to go from Norway)
posted by k5.user at 12:18 PM on August 8, 2017

I'll second the "avoid I-91 through Springfield if you can" advice. Hartford traffic can also be nasty. You might consider taking I-95 further west to I-395 and going north to Worcester from there; this avoids the whole heavily-populated New Haven-Northampton corridor in favor of the sparsely-populated northeastern part of CT. This does subject you to more New Haven traffic, though, so choose your poison.

I'd also take bondcliff's advice about moose and two-lane roads seriously. Sunset is around 7:45 PM these days; I suspect that you won't get too far north of the MA state line before dusk, regardless of the route you take.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:55 PM on August 8, 2017

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