Mid-Atlantic to New England Drive
June 14, 2006 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Friday travel: My usual drive from Shepherdstown, WVa to Cambridge, MA is I-81 to I-84 to the Pike. I have made this in 8 hours (with few stops). This time, I am going from Dulles, VA to Cambridge. What's the better route?

Online maps generally suggest the I-95 corridor, even for my usual WV-MA route, but years of driving from southeastern VA to CT suggested I would do well otherwise. This time, the obvious return from maps.google et al is, of course, the I-95 corridor. But it's Friday and I will be leaving Dulles at about 10:00 a.m., putting me on the east side of NYC at about 2:00-3:00 -- sounds unpleasant given what I've seen of I-95 in CT lately. Will I do better going up I-83 to Harrisburg to pick up my usual route, I-81 to I-84 (via Scranton)?
posted by Dick Paris to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have made the drive from DC to Maine a number of times, and yes, I-81 to I-84 from Harrisburg is a good way. Another way I've gone is I-95 to I-295 in Delaware to the Jersey Turnpike to the Garden State Parkway to 87/287 across the Tappan Zee Bridge and then keeping on 287 until it picks up I-95 again, then take I-91 north to pick up I-84. This always seems faster to me, like about an hour faster, even when there's construction, but the tolls (about 10 or 12) are a pain and it is certainly less scenic.
posted by JanetLand at 6:56 AM on June 14, 2006

What JanetLand said. I routinely take the route she lays out. It is certainly faster than I-95 the entire way.
posted by MasonDixon at 7:08 AM on June 14, 2006

What JanetLand sid but for one suggestion. While on 287 in Westchester after crossing the Tap, take 684 north until it runs into 84 east. Keeps you off 95 in CT.

As for tolls, one word EZ Pass.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:48 AM on June 14, 2006

My only snag with 684, JohnnyGunn, is that if I take it I have to go through Hartford on I-84, and for some reason I have worse traffic troubles in Hartford than I do on 95 in CT. But that's probably just bad luck; I don't make this trip THAT often.
posted by JanetLand at 8:07 AM on June 14, 2006

Janetland - I know what you mean about Hartford. I just drove up to Somerville, MA from NJ and went from the Tappan Zee and 287 to 684 to 84 then 691 to 91 back to 84 (via the Charter Oak Bridge exit) to cut out Hartford and a bit of time. It makes sense if you look at a map.
posted by FreezBoy at 8:59 AM on June 14, 2006

My gosh, FreezBoy, that's brilliant! Dick Paris, combine all these answers and you've got your alternate route.
posted by JanetLand at 9:06 AM on June 14, 2006

VA-7 west to Leesburg, US-15 north through Maryland to Harrisburg (gorgeous drive), then I-81 to I-84 to the Pike.

As long as you avoid Hartford between 4:30 and 6 PM you should be fine.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:14 AM on June 14, 2006

I've done the Charlottesville->Boston drives more time than I care for, and I'm all about 81->84. I've done the route that JanetLand lays out, at least a couple of times, but for sheer pleasure of trip, you can't beat the simplicity of 81/84. There is, miraculously, no construction anywhere in Pennsylvania along that route, at least not as of last month, for the first time in my life. There are no busy areas, no spots to worry about traffic jams (except maybe Hartford, if your timing is particularly bad), and the whole trip is just so laid-back. I love the little towns with the local restaurants -- way more pleasant than hitting up the fast-food joints along the major corridors.

It's not the fastest route. But it is, IMHO, the nicest route.
posted by waldo at 10:13 AM on June 14, 2006

Thanks for all the input. I've done FreezBoy's Hartford jig during rush hour once before -- except for a minor slow-down returning to 84 it went well. And thanks for the nod from Saucy Intruder for the scenic route to Harrisburg -- the Wife and I often look for alternate scenic routes and I travel on 7 often and I've done 15 as well. Might be a the right choice for me. (Agree with you on the 81-84 route waldo and I could easliy be convinced the route is the fatest from Charlottesville.)

I'll study all of this with my Michelin maps (best maps ever) and see what goes. The worst part of all of this will be my Hartford timing which I am working to adjust.
posted by Dick Paris at 8:34 AM on June 15, 2006

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