NJ to ME trip
June 24, 2004 12:22 PM   Subscribe

How long would it take me to drive from Paramus, NJ to Portland, ME leaving between 6 and 7am tomorrow morning? I've been getting conflicting reports, everywhere from 5 hours to 12 hours, but none of the advice givers have ever driven there, so their estimate could hardly be considered accurate. Any traffic concerns I should be aware of?
posted by emptybowl to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As of last summer, from Nassau County, Long Island, NY to the New Hampshire/Maine border (driving at night, doing 70 on the highways, with minimal traffic) takes about six hours. So it's about six and a half hours to Portland from NY, probably seven hours from Paramus.

And it's another six hours from the southern border of Maine to the northeastern most point of Maine. Maine is a big state, bigger than most people realize, and very sparsely populated in the north. If you're up north, be sure to get gas and food when you can.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:46 PM on June 24, 2004

Oh, and BE SURE to eat some lobster rolls (chopped up fresh lobster salad on a hot dog bun) while you're there! They're soooooooooo good.

And blueberries are in season soon, I think.

And go to the beach at Ogunquit, if possible--the water's quite cold (and shallow very far out, thanks to a big sandbar), but it's a lot of fun.

And ave fun--Maine is a beautiful state. I spent a bunch of summers there as a kid and miss it.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:49 PM on June 24, 2004

Depends on your route and speed habits. Paramus is near NYC right? Some folks take 5 hours just to go from Boston to NYC, others I know can do it in 2.5. I try to stay off the road when I know their out and about. Anyway, generally its 4 from NYC to Boston, and 2 to Portland, so 6 or 7 hours total.

It looks like you'll escape rush hour in NY, so that puts you near Boston around 11, which lets you escape the little rush hour from 12 to 1. Good timing.
posted by jwells at 12:57 PM on June 24, 2004

I've done a similar drive a few times. Should only be about 4 hours from New Haven to Portland. I dunno the Paramus to New Haven time, but add it to four hours and you'll be close.

You probably have little to fear in terms of MA and RI traffic because of when you're travelling.
posted by trharlan at 1:01 PM on June 24, 2004

I live in Teaneck, emptybowl. It takes me four hours to get to Hanover, New Hampshire. Figure at least another hour and a half to get to Maine.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:20 PM on June 24, 2004

Sorry, make that two and a half.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:22 PM on June 24, 2004

To Portland should take between 5 and 6 hours, I'd estimate. From Bergen County, NJ to Boston is about a 3.5-4 hour drive. From Boston to Portland is about a 2 hour drive. You'll be able to save some time by driving one of the x95 ways around Boston, rather than driving into the city.

You should be pretty good with traffic, since you'll be driving against the NYC-bound rush hour traffic in CT, and avoiding the worst of Boston's traffic by avoiding the city.
posted by andrewraff at 1:26 PM on June 24, 2004

I think getting from Paramus to Connecticut at that time of day will be unpleasant. All Hudson river crossings sucks, and so does the Tappan Zee, since that way is going into the tolls.
posted by smackfu at 1:33 PM on June 24, 2004

A greyhound bus takes 11 hours, including a 1 hour layover, so maybe that's where the higher estimate is coming from.
posted by milovoo at 2:11 PM on June 24, 2004

I'll focus on Maine, since that's what I know:

From Kittery (your likely point of entry) to Portland should only take 45 minutes under the best of conditions.

HOWEVER, it is summer and Fridays means everyone else from Mass. and below is going north to bless us with their presence (and going south on Sunday evenings). If you cross into Maine after about 3pm, up until about 8 or 9pm, anticipate significant traffic on 95 and the Turnpike northbound all the way to Portland. Your travel time will be anywhere between an hour and 1.5 hours (sorry).

They should limiting/stopping construction in the later afternoon, but do be aware the entire shoulder of the road is currently "missing." Not that it impedes travel, but it freaks some people out. Also, the speed limits are reduced in some areas, and the troopers are malicious, so don't speed through any marked work areas!

DO NOT under any circumstances think going up Rt. 1 in Maine will save you time. The max speed limit is 50mph, more oftn 35mph and it is literally crawling with tourists. I work in Wells, believe me.

You will also need $2.00 for tolls! Fifty cents for the first (two quarters will save you time) and $1.50 for the second.

Hope that helps! I'm only knowledgeable about my own state, but I've done the loop from Kittery Point to Bowdionham (north of Portland) enough times to know that stretch of road rather well.

Asparagirl: Going from Biddeford (30 minutes north of Kittery) to Limestone (five minutes west of Canada, but still an hour or more south of Madawaska) takes a solid seven hours. I've taken that route about thirty times in my life now, by school bus no less. It's more like 8 hours to travel the route you described, or about 9 or 10 if you want to go for Fort Kent, the most northern Maine "city." Maine is a ginourmous state :P
posted by nelleish at 2:21 PM on June 24, 2004

Also, I second going around Boston at all costs. Boston to Kittery should be about an hour, but again your timing might put you in the stream of the northbound knuckleheads (not to imply that you are a knucklehead!)
posted by nelleish at 2:24 PM on June 24, 2004

Take the Meritt, not the 95. Don't go through Rhode Island, but across Mass. Just outside Union, Conn., which is right before the Mass border, there is the Traveler's Book Inn or somesuch; their pie is good, they give you free books, and the used book store in the basement is incredible (if you have the time).
posted by dame at 3:24 PM on June 24, 2004

Take the Merritt, not the 95. Don't go through Rhode Island, but across Mass. Just outside Union, Conn., which is right before the Mass border, there is the Traveler's Book Inn or somesuch; their pie is good, they give you free books, and the used book store in the basement is incredible (if you have the time).
posted by dame at 3:24 PM on June 24, 2004

So, when's the meetup?
posted by theora55 at 3:40 PM on June 24, 2004

Echoing and expanding on dame's comment:

1. Garden State Parkway north to NY State
2. I-287 east to Tappan Zee Bridge
3. Stay on I-287 east to the Hutchison River Pkwy
4. Hutchison River Pkwy north to Merritt Parkway north to Wilbur Cross Parkway north (all the same road, marked as CT 15 in Connecticut)
5. Wilbur Cross Parkway to exit 68N (I-91 north)
6. I-91 north to US 5/CT 15 north
7. CT 15 north to I-84 east
8. I-84 east to Mass Pike (I-90)
9. Mass Pike east to exit 10
10. I-290 north to I-495
11. I-495 north to I-95
12. I-95 north to Portland
13. ???
14. Profit!

This is all-limited access highway, and you avoid NYC, New Haven, Hartford, and Boston. The only big city you hit is Worcester.
posted by PrinceValium at 3:47 PM on June 24, 2004

This is a sh***y drive. Valium's directions reduce the pain, but there is still a lot of traffic and it's hard to make good time. I would guess it will take about 6 hours or so. Portland is a neat place so the drive pays off in the end.
posted by caddis at 7:21 PM on June 24, 2004

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