Best route from CT to NJ
November 25, 2006 7:46 AM   Subscribe

I have to drive from southern Connecticut to New Jersey on Sunday afternoon / evening - timing is flexible, I just have to be there to start a class on Monday. Google is telling me to take 95 to the Garden State Parkway - is that the best route?

I haven't driven to/through New York and with it being the end of the Thanksgiving holiday, I'd like to try to minimize my time sitting in traffic. Anybody with experience have a route / timing suggestion? Should I leave early or late? I'd like to arrive by Midnight so I'm not too tired the next day and Google is timing it out to about 3 hours.

Also, I'll be returning on Friday in the afternoon - any thoughts on that drive?
posted by macfly to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total)
I don't believe 95 and the GSP intersect directly. You would be taking 95 S to 287 S/87 S (which crosses the Tappan Zee Bridge). 87 S, which is the NY State Thruway, will have an exit for Chestnut Ridge/Garden State Parkway which will get you where you need to go.

That's just from memory. If you spell out what the Google directions say, I might be able to help further. I prefer Mapquest over Google when it comes to certain areas of NY/NJ.
posted by Ekim Neems at 7:59 AM on November 25, 2006

For some reason, as a kid, I remember taking the Tappan Zee Bridge, which would be 287. I think we did it to avoid traffic.

Where are you going in joysey?
posted by SpecialK at 8:02 AM on November 25, 2006

Where in New Jersey?

And I-95 does intersect the Parkway, at Exit 11 / Parkway Exit 131. (I-95 is the New Jersey Turnpike at that point, and for much (but not all) of its length in New Jersey.)
posted by MattD at 8:02 AM on November 25, 2006

Actually, I-95 (New Jersey Turnpike at this point) and SH9 (garbage state parkway) do intersect in Woodbridge.
posted by SpecialK at 8:05 AM on November 25, 2006

I'm going from the New Haven area to Easton, NJ (well, Ft Monmouth) so going up to Tappan Zee would be kind of out of the way, although I'm willing to do it if would avoid horrendous traffic over the GW. Both Mapquest and Google are taking me down 95S to Exit 11 to the Parkway as MattD mentioned but it seems like that might be a nightmare, especially at the end of a holiday weekend.
posted by macfly at 8:10 AM on November 25, 2006

Merritt Parkway to 287 to Tappan Zee Bridge to GSP. Avoid 95. You should really specify where in Jersey you're going to. Also, listen to 880 AM throughout the drive to check the status of traffic at the bridge crossings.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:11 AM on November 25, 2006

On preview, I still think the Tappan Zee is the way to go, contingent on the traffic situation. Regardless of how bad the GWB is that day, the approach on the Cross Bronx will be horrid.

If you do decide to cut over to the George at the last minute, stay on the Merritt/Hutchison River Parkway to the Cross County Parkway to Major Deegan (87) south to the bridge exit.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:14 AM on November 25, 2006

Take 95 S to 287 to 87S to Cross County West to Henry Hudson Pkwy South to GWB (or Lincoln Tunnel or Holland Tunnel depending on what 880 traffic or 1010 traffic suggests. Then take to either 95 (NJT) or GSP. (or take 287 to Saw Mill South which turns into Henry Hudson Pkwy.)

The approach to the George from either the Cross Bronx or the Major Deagan (87S) could really suck. Less potential for traffic on the west side Henry Hudson. You get onto the bridge directly from there without much of an approach. I recommend the Lower Level too if you can.

The Tap can also have significant traffic tie-ups on a long weekend Sunday night, although most traffic will be coming into Westchester.

If you are in New Haven consider taking 84 west to the Beacon Bridge then heading South somehow. Not sure if the Thruway would suck at that time on a Sunday though.

I think you are going to get hit no matter what Hudson River Crossing you take. Just plan for an extra 45 minutes and don't sweat it. I would leave at 6 or 7 personally, but not to avoid traffic, but to ensure I get to Jersey before 11.

Good Luck.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:02 AM on November 25, 2006

Listen to 1010 WINS ("Traffic on the ones!") as you approach Westchester county. Listen for traffic backups on the GWBRidge and Tappenzee. Choose accordingly. If no comment on either, Tappenzee. (If SERIOUSLY backed up, consider crossing the Hudson at the Bear Mountain Bridge- but only as an absolute last resort.)
posted by IndigoJones at 9:14 AM on November 25, 2006

(NB- also listen for backups on the Cross Bronx leading into the GW.)
posted by IndigoJones at 9:20 AM on November 25, 2006

Take 95 South out of NH -- checking 880/1010/1130 on the 8s/1s/5s for crossing info. Take 287W @ the NY Border. By this time you should have decided whether to go with the GWB or the TZ. I wouldn't bother with the TZ unless crossing times are at least 1/2 hour - 45 minutes less than the GWB.

To do the GWB, take the Hutchinson River Parkway southbound* to the Cross County to the Saw Mill/Henry Hudson Parkway to the HH Bridge to miss all the Deegan or NE Thruway madness. The small toll is well worth it.

If you do take the TZ, consider the Palisades Parkway rather than the GSP off the Thruway. It'll add about 5 miles, but you won't have to deal with all those toll booths. Pick up the NJT off the end of the Palisades and follow to the GSP at exit 11.

I think the Newburgh/Beacon Bridge is too far out of the way to offer any benefit. If you were starting out in Waterbury or Danbury, maybe.

*Rather than 87S. There will probably be about a 10 minute backup on the Hutch between 287 and Scarsdale, but it should be less than the backup getting to 87S as all that traffic heading to the TZ is going to be backed up well before 287 gets to the exit for 87S.
posted by Opposite George at 9:39 AM on November 25, 2006

From New England, I always take 84 west to 684 south to 287 west which crosses the tappan zee bridge and will take you to the garden state parkway.
posted by tastybrains at 9:52 AM on November 25, 2006

About the traffic at the NJTP Exit 11/GSP:

Millions of New Jerseyans and New Yorkers (and some Pennsylvanians) vacation "down the Jersey Shore" and the Parkway is the only reliable highway route to most beaches. Most of the traffic hell is during the summer weekends. The Turnpike is definitely busy during the holidays as well, but no more than any other highway - and both highways, as well as Exit 11, are built to handle consistently high traffic loads. So I think you'll move through rather efficiently if you take that route.

I second the advice about the GWB (take it unless it's really backed up), the Saw Mill (definitely take it no matter what), and 1010 WINS (invaluable for news and traffic reports).
posted by brianvan at 12:55 PM on November 25, 2006

I notice you marked advice to take the 95 as best. I'd seriously rethink that and go with Saucy Intruder: the Merritt is so much better.
posted by dame at 2:57 PM on November 25, 2006

I'm going to ditto Saucy - if you go at really strange hours you might end up better off at the GWB, but it's impossible to predict when that's going to be - I've been stuck at 1 in the morning on a Sun/Mon night and clear at 8am on a Saturday. The Merritt is definitely the way to go - it runs parallel to 95 from New Haven west in CT so you should be able to pick it up somewhere along the line.
posted by cobaltnine at 3:25 PM on November 25, 2006

I make the drive a couple times per month from Milford, CT to Philadelphia. When heading down to Philly, I make sure to always leave ~6am or so. When traveling at that time, I have yet to hit traffic. FWIW, I always take 95/GWB/95-TPK. By 8:30-9am I'm settled into my apartment and get to relax the rest of the day.
posted by drkrdglo at 3:16 AM on November 26, 2006

I ended up taking the Merritt to the Tappenzee and then down the GSP - no traffic to speak of and I made it in about 2 1/2 hours. Thanks for the advice, everyone.
posted by macfly at 5:39 PM on November 26, 2006

BTW, on Thanksgiving I did this route and the 95 to TZB trip on 287 took over an hour, for 10 miles of travel. That was with 1010, etc. just saying "heavy on the Tappan Zee approaches". Sometimes you just get screwed.
posted by smackfu at 7:35 AM on November 27, 2006

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