Long Island Traffic Advice (JFK-Cold Spring Harbor, Thurs evening)
Hi all. Some colleagues and I are flying into JFK on a Thursday and need to get to Cold Spring Harbor via rental car by around 6:30 PM or so. We're unfortunately flying in from the west coast, so that means leaving early (and I'm not a morning person!). Is there any chance of making it if our flight lands at 5:00 PM? Or do we need to arrive at 3:30? I just don't remember how bad Long Island traffic gets outside the LIE.
It is possible with no hiccups whatsoever as the traffic may take 75 minutes. Traffic in LI is bad but nothing in comparison to California as there are three parallel highways to head east.
Adding complex components (which make it more challenging):
Does your flight land ontime? (i.e. bad weather)?
Does your flight get to the gate quickly?
Do you have check baggage and have to wait for it? Are you priority on airline or sitting in the rear of a jumbo jet?
Are you an elite member at rental agency (grab and go) or have to wait in line?
Each item above can easily add 15-30 minutes resulting in a 5pm landing turning into a 6:20pm exit from airport.
My suggestion to avoid stress/panic -
-take earlier flight arriving at 3:30pm. No rushing and sleep on plane.
-If the earlier flight is not an option - instead of rental car hire a private car service to handle your driving and meet you at terminal as they will know alternate roads (traffic reports, etc.) and save you on time to pick up rental car. You can take train service back to airport from Port Jefferson and avoid driving altogether if possible.
If it's really important to be there by 6:30, take the flight that gets in at 3:30. You can sleep on the plane.
Also, assuming someone (not the driver) in the car has a smartphone, use the traffic feature on Google Maps to figure out which route to take once you land. The most direct route is the Southern State to NY-135, but you can also take the Cross Island Parkway to either the LIE (I-495) or the Northern State and go from there. Go with whichever route has the most green and the least red/black.
You can also get a sense in advance of typical traffic patterns on a Thursday afternoon using Google Maps on your computer (turn on traffic, then click "change" next to "Live Traffic" and switch it to Thursday at 5pm). You'll see that all three eastbound roads are pretty yellow around then, although I think the Cross Island to LIE route looks like it might be best traffic-wise.