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Old Jul 12, 04, 4:46 pm   #1
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best way to drive from DC to Boston

Moderators, if wrong thread please move.

I'm driving from DC to Boston tomorrow and am trying to figure out my options. What I usually do is 95/Garden Start Parkway/Tappan Zee Bridge/84/Mass Pike, etc.

I've heard that 81 North is a good way to go too but a bit out of the way.

Does anyone here make this trip often? Any tips on route? When to leave DC to avoid traffic? Thanks!
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Old Jul 12, 04, 5:48 pm   #2
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If your goal is 84 I wouldn't go near the TZ bridge. Take the throughway north to exit 17 and get on 84 there, and take that to Boston. Once you get to the area of the TZ bridge I find any route is about the same, George Washington to the parkways to the Merritt to Rt 8 to 84 in Waterbury, or TX to 684 to 84, etc.

There is a chance of flooding and heavy rain in this area (South West Connecticut) overnight and tomorrow morning, so be careful. Like 4 or 5 inches worth.
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Old Jul 12, 04, 5:51 pm   #3
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Stay off the Merritt

They're doing construction on the Merritt. Traffic is limited to 1 lane North and Southbound. All I can say is the delays not pretty.
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Old Jul 12, 04, 5:56 pm   #4
 
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My preferred route is dca/usairshuttle/bos/tunnel. when that's not available, 95/Garden Start Parkway/Tappan Zee Bridge/84/Mass Pike, etc is the best route. you want to avoid being near NYC from 4-8 pm.
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Old Jul 12, 04, 7:33 pm   #5
 
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83 to 81 to 84

I drive down to the in-laws in Baltimore from Southern Vermont. The last few times we have made that drive we have given up on 95 and the tolls and the traffic. We now take 695 in Baltimore to 83 North. At Harrisburg we catch 81 North and in Scranton we get onto 84 East to wherever. The time is almost identical (maybe 15 minutes to a half hour more the non-95 way) but the decrease in traffic and tolls and hassle more than makes up for the additional time. Give it a try, I think you'll like it.
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Old Jul 12, 04, 11:14 pm   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cordelli
If your goal is 84 I wouldn't go near the TZ bridge. Take the throughway north to exit 17 and get on 84 there, and take that to Boston. Once you get to the area of the TZ bridge I find any route is about the same, George Washington to the parkways to the Merritt to Rt 8 to 84 in Waterbury, or TX to 684 to 84, etc.
I beg to differ. I commute regularly from Boston to New Jersey, where I have two brothers with their families, one of my two sons, and until last year a GF. Going up the Thruway to I-84 adds nearly 40 miles to the trip, and 84 itself to Hartford is often a mess. (It has a dozen or more truck climbing lanes up long hills, nearly all of which merge back into the main roadway at the top of the hill when the trucks are going their slowest rather than giving them some room to accelerate down the other side before the truck lane ends. That by itself is enough to wreck a highway, but it's not the only problem on that stretch of 84. Fortunately, the part between Hartford and the Mass. Pike is much better designed.)

I agree with the TZ unless you're there at a really bad time such as morning rush hour, in which case going north to 84 is the only way to avoid the NYC area. If you do take that route, avoid Hartford by getting off 84 at I-691 (exit 27, I think) and taking it to the end where you pick up I-91 north. Take exit 30 (I think; there's a sign) off 91 toward Boston. It puts you onto 84 well the other side of Hartford.

If you need a food stop, I recommend Rein's Deli in Vernon, not far past Hartford. Take I-84 exit 65 and follow State Route 30 until you see it on your left, in a strip mall at a traffic light. You get back on the highway at exit 66.

As for construction and weather problems mentioned in other posts: tune in WINS, 1010 AM, for traffic reports at :01, :11, :21 and so on. They generally go as far out of NYC as the TZ and southern Connecticut if there are any problems to report there.
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Old Jul 12, 04, 11:55 pm   #7
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270-70-81-88-90 into Boston
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Old Jul 13, 04, 5:55 am   #8
 
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270-70-81-88-90 into Boston
Except that 270-70-81-88-90 = -59.

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Old Jul 13, 04, 9:43 am   #9
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Originally Posted by dhammer53
They're doing construction on the Merritt. Traffic is limited to 1 lane North and Southbound. All I can say is the delays not pretty.
Any idea how long that will be going on? We're driving to Maine in a few weeks.
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Old Jul 13, 04, 10:08 am   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efrem
I beg to differ. I commute regularly from Boston to New Jersey, where I have two brothers with their families, one of my two sons, and until last year a GF. Going up the Thruway to I-84 adds nearly 40 miles to the trip, and 84 itself to Hartford is often a mess.
I would normally agree with you, but with the construction on the Merritt in Greenwich, and the construction on 95 in Bridgeport, and the construction on 287 off the bridge, I would consider this an alternative. There are days when it's easier for us to get back home to Norwalk from Woodbury by going north to 84, crossing over into Connecticut and coming back down Rt 7 then it is to deal with the construction in all the areas. Yes, it's another 40 miles, but it's two hours less time.

The one part we are missing is what the route was going to be from the Tappan Zee to 84, since the two are quite a bit apart and don't intersect. Until they finish the digging, blasting, paving, etc, I wouldn't recommend driving through South West Connecticut, even though I do it twice a day (and hate it right now).

There are days it's fine, that they are working on the side and traffic goes, just a bit slower. There are other days they are digging, blasting, or putting up a bridge, when they shut the road down for 20 minute periods and you just sit on the side of the road and wait. I just don't see it worth the chance of it being bad if you don't need to take it.

Besides, if you take 84, then you can stop at Blackies in Cheshire and get some Hot Dogs.
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Old Aug 27, 04, 8:15 am   #11
 
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Bump.

I'm driving tomorrow from Richmond to Boston, then driving back the next day. On Monday, I'll probably check into a mental hospital.

I know it's shorter to take the New Jersey Turnpike to the George Washington Bridge, and then go through Connecticut on I-95. I wouldn't even think about doing that on a weekday, but would you recommend that route on a weekend? Or is there too much construction in Connecticut?

If I go over the Tappan Zee Bridge, there seem to be a lot of choices to make about the best way to get to I-84. What do you recommend?

As to Efrem's suggestion to avoid Hartford by taking 84-691-91-84 (if I understand the suggestion), will that add to the length of the trip, and is it necessary to do that on a weekend.
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Old Aug 27, 04, 8:43 am   #12
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Originally Posted by jakeman
Bump.

I'm driving tomorrow from Richmond to Boston, then driving back the next day. On Monday, I'll probably check into a mental hospital.

I know it's shorter to take the New Jersey Turnpike to the George Washington Bridge, and then go through Connecticut on I-95. I wouldn't even think about doing that on a weekday, but would you recommend that route on a weekend? Or is there too much construction in Connecticut?

If I go over the Tappan Zee Bridge, there seem to be a lot of choices to make about the best way to get to I-84. What do you recommend?

As to Efrem's suggestion to avoid Hartford by taking 84-691-91-84 (if I understand the suggestion), will that add to the length of the trip, and is it necessary to do that on a weekend.
If you drive I-95 in CT on a weekend, you'll hit beach traffic. Sounds like you have an all-day drive ahead of you.

Here is what I would recommend:
  • Take 95 from Richmond to the NJ Turnpike.
  • Take the NJ Turnpike north to the GWB. In northern NJ, the NJT becomes I 95 again. Listen to traffic reports on 880AM (on the 8s), 1010AM (on the 1s) and 1130AM (on the 5s). You can get to the GWB at both Exit 18E (the eastern spur) and 18W (the western spur). 18W is more direct so if you don't hear any bad traffic news, stick to the western spur. Follow signs for the GWB lower level---there tends to be less traffic than the upper level.
  • Cross the George Washington Bridge to NYC. Follow signs for 87 North to Albany.
  • Take 87 North to the Cross-County Parkway in Yonkers.
  • Take the Cross County Parkway East to the Hutchinson River Parkway North.
  • Take the Hutch North until it becomes the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut.
  • Drive the Merritt until it becomes just Route 15. Take Route 15 to I-91 North to I84 East. You see Hartford but you don't go through it; you go around it.
  • Take I 84 East to Mass Pike East to Boston.

I did the route from the GWB onward north last Saturday so I'm not just BSing or anything. A lot of people driving from the south like to avoid going through the GWB and instead select the Garden State to the Thruway to the Tappan Zee. Now I hate that route because of all of the toll plazas on the Garden State with the backups and how backed up the Thruway can get. I've also taken the Thruway north to 84 and then crossed 84 into CT but that also takes a lot of time as well and you go a bit out of the way. You will be driving most of the day; you might as well go as directly as possible. And don't worry about the RNC convention; it's no where near the GWB. Hope this helps.

Take a good driving atlas with you. If you see backups or hear about them on the radio, there are ALWAYS alternate routes.
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Old Aug 27, 04, 9:01 am   #13
 
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Just take the train and avoid the hassles.
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Old Aug 28, 04, 6:35 am   #14
 
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Down the York, left at Cape Charles Lighthouse, Left again at Provincetown. Probably just about as fast as driving.

Let us know how long it took each way.
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Old Aug 28, 04, 7:33 am   #15
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jakeman

If I go over the Tappan Zee Bridge, there seem to be a lot of choices to make about the best way to get to I-84. What do you recommend?
I used to make the drive from CT to NJ when I lived up north, and by far the fastest way from the TZ Bridge to I-84 is the Saw Mill River Parkway---except when there's heavy rain (the Saw Mill floods often).

Exit 287 to the Saw Mill north. Follow the Saw Mill to its end at I-684, and then take 684 north to 84 east and you're in Connecticut.

This route is about 10 miles shorter, much more scenic, and less congested than taking 287 to 684.
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