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Author Topic: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer  (Read 7534 times)

FlatlanderinVT

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Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« on: September 02, 2021, 09:11:08 PM »

Hello everyone!
I am brand new here and joined as a result of stumbling onto this forum researching a trip I will likely be doing within a month to 6 weeks from Northern Vermont to somewhere in the WV panhandle area more or less. My Mother-in-Law is in the process of looking for a place in WV and we have committed to renting a U-Haul trailer and moving some of her "stuff" down there for her from storage up north from us.

What landed me here after the more or less straightforward beginning to the trip was the mostly the idea of taking I-88 west from the Schenectady area to Binghamton to hook up with I-81 which we could then stay on until Martinsburg WV. The reason this route seems appealing to me would be that I have a thought that it might be a less traveled way to get west of the NYC Metro area than given I-84 or especially going as far south as I-78. My plan is to absolutely take our time and be in no rush whatsoever and given how we hope to play renting & loading the trailer we would leave late morning(maybe) and take two days to complete the trip. Given that we are in no rush, I am looking for the least stressful route possible even if it takes a bit longer. I know the many of the other interstates that are possibilities somewhat well with the exception of I 88, so any input on towing on that road would be greatly appreciated as far as what traffic can be like and also if the highway is especially hilly. Of course I am absolutely welcoming any input on any other route people that might have more experience on these highways might have. I very much look forward to the feedback and hopefully whatever I can garner from discussing it with anyone interested here. Thanks very much in advance for your input!
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froggie

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2021, 09:19:14 PM »

Coincidentally, I was just on I-88 this afternoon while returning to Vermont.

I-88 is certainly an option to cut over to I-81.  It does carry less traffic than 84 or 78.  There are a couple disadvantages, however.  The pavement on much of 88 is lousy, especially from ~Otego to ~Cobleskill....I ran into 3 single-lane construction zones on this stretch that are beginning to address it, but it's going to take more than just this year to finish.  I-88 and I-81 are also much hillier than taking a route closer to NYC.  That will slow things down, and also causes problems with the trucks on I-81 which lacks truck climbing lanes outside of the I-80 to I-84 segment.
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FlatlanderinVT

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2021, 09:51:02 PM »

Thanks for the input Froggie, I really appreciate it!

I had a thought I might here something along the lines of exactly some of what you mentioned. Nothing is even close to being set on when the timing of this adventure will be so perhaps it will be after construction season is over but that certainly is something to consider of course. Its also great info that climbing lanes are not common. While I don't expect to be setting any speed records as we probably both know it isn't fun to crawl uphill behind someone.  While I am not worried about my Nissan Frontier's ability to do this I don't want to push it any harder than I have to. I will certainly keep it in mind as I continue to ponder this trip.

I did notice though that we actually will be starting this trip not all that far from you at all in Morrisville almost on the Wolcott line. While she isn't a Vermonter either my better half's family lived in Elmore and Stowe and we know the area up there very well. We are way down pretty much on the Massachusetts border now. 
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2021, 10:04:44 PM »

Coincidentally, I was just on I-88 this afternoon while returning to Vermont.

I-88 is certainly an option to cut over to I-81.  It does carry less traffic than 84 or 78.  There are a couple disadvantages, however.  The pavement on much of 88 is lousy, especially from ~Otego to ~Cobleskill....I ran into 3 single-lane construction zones on this stretch that are beginning to address it, but it's going to take more than just this year to finish.  I-88 and I-81 are also much hillier than taking a route closer to NYC.  That will slow things down, and also causes problems with the trucks on I-81 which lacks truck climbing lanes outside of the I-80 to I-84 segment.

The hilliest part of I-81 is (from south to north) from I-78 (Exit 89) near Lebanon, Pennsylvania to PA-171 (Exit 230) near Great Bend, Pennsylvania.  Pavement varies from good to terrible along all of I-81 in Pennsylvania. 

Not all of I-81 in this part of Pennsylvania has steep grades, but the longest and steepest grades on I-81 can be found in this section of the corridor. 
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Rothman

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2021, 10:07:21 PM »

Has construction started on the stretch from the NY line to New Milford?  That stretch is horrible, but I think I saw VMSes that said they were finally fixing it.
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FlatlanderinVT

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2021, 10:36:16 PM »

Coincidentally, I was just on I-88 this afternoon while returning to Vermont.

I-88 is certainly an option to cut over to I-81.  It does carry less traffic than 84 or 78.  There are a couple disadvantages, however.  The pavement on much of 88 is lousy, especially from ~Otego to ~Cobleskill....I ran into 3 single-lane construction zones on this stretch that are beginning to address it, but it's going to take more than just this year to finish.  I-88 and I-81 are also much hillier than taking a route closer to NYC.  That will slow things down, and also causes problems with the trucks on I-81 which lacks truck climbing lanes outside of the I-80 to I-84 segment.

The hilliest part of I-81 is (from south to north) from I-78 (Exit 89) near Lebanon, Pennsylvania to PA-171 (Exit 230) near Great Bend, Pennsylvania.  Pavement varies from good to terrible along all of I-81 in Pennsylvania. 

Not all of I-81 in this part of Pennsylvania has steep grades, but the longest and steepest grades on I-81 can be found in this section of the corridor.

Much appreciated cpzilliacus!

Just to make sure I am thinking along the same lines that you mean... Are you implying that I would be mostly going downhill traveling north to south or would I still have to deal with significant climbs? I have driven I-81 once from Harrisburg to Binghamton but clearly I wasn't concerned with topography on that trip since nothing was remarkable to me, that I recall anyway.

I had hoped that this I-88 to I-81 would be a good way to avoid tractor trailer traffic at least but maybe since I will be be towing as well the I-78 route might prove best. All good food for thought and no decision has to be made immediately at least.
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VTGoose

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2021, 10:37:56 PM »

Hello everyone!
I am brand new here and joined as a result of stumbling onto this forum researching a trip I will likely be doing within a month to 6 weeks from Northern Vermont to somewhere in the WV panhandle area more or less. My Mother-in-Law is in the process of looking for a place in WV and we have committed to renting a U-Haul trailer and moving some of her "stuff" down there for her from storage up north from us.

We took multiple trips between Southwest Virginia and Vermont while our son was attending the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier. We took a variety of routes between Harrisburg and Vermont. The one we used several times as the most direct used U.S. 7 from Burlington (or somewhere along the way, if we cut cross-country from Montpelier to sightsee) to Rutland. From there, take U.S. 4 west to Fort Ann, NY, to pick up NY 149 west to I-87. Take I-87 south to Albany and the connection to the NY State Thruway/I-87. At Newburgh, pick up I-84 west into Pennsylvania and I-81 at Scranton. I-81 south will take you across I-80 and on to Harrisburg. You have several choices depending on timing, travel time, and what you might want to see or do. You could take I-80 west to I-79, then take that south to Pittsburgh and pick up I-70 at Washington. You could also jump off I-79 at I-376/U.S. 22/U.S. 30 west and continue on U.S. 22 west to Weirton. You could continue through Harrisburg and pick up the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Carlisle to go west toward Pittsburgh to pick up I-70 at Breezewood and continue on the Turnpike to New Stanton and I-70 west from there to Wheeling.

Bruce in Blacksburg
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Bitmapped

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2021, 10:22:42 AM »

West Virginia has two panhandles: Northern (Wheeling/Weirton) and Eastern (Martinsburg/Charles Town). Which one are you going to?
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Rothman

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2021, 10:48:51 AM »

This thread should be moved to Road Trips (nothing against the new OP).
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hbelkins

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2021, 11:29:13 AM »

West Virginia has two panhandles: Northern (Wheeling/Weirton) and Eastern (Martinsburg/Charles Town). Which one are you going to?

He mentioned Martinsburg, so presumably the eastern one.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2021, 03:52:08 PM »

Much appreciated cpzilliacus!

Just to make sure I am thinking along the same lines that you mean... Are you implying that I would be mostly going downhill traveling north to south or would I still have to deal with significant climbs? I have driven I-81 once from Harrisburg to Binghamton but clearly I wasn't concerned with topography on that trip since nothing was remarkable to me, that I recall anyway.

I had hoped that this I-88 to I-81 would be a good way to avoid tractor trailer traffic at least but maybe since I will be be towing as well the I-78 route might prove best. All good food for thought and no decision has to be made immediately at least.

There are steep uphill and downhill grades both northbound and southbound on I-81 between Lebanon and Great Bend.  I am not confident to say which direction has the steepest grades up or down.  There is truck traffic along the entire corridor, though some trucks do leave I-81 at both I-78 and at I-80.  Still, you will encounter trucks all the way to Binghamton, N.Y. (and probably beyond - the only part of I-81 that I have not driven is between I-90 and the Ontario border).

One word of warning regarding the interchange at I-80 and I-81 in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania north of Hazleton - it is badly substandard, the ramps are sharp and (properly) posted with low speed limits.  This was mentioned by another poster upthread  - in case you take the alternate route suggested, then you will be on those substandard ramps.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2021, 04:00:58 PM by cpzilliacus »
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FlatlanderinVT

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2021, 08:49:09 PM »

West Virginia has two panhandles: Northern (Wheeling/Weirton) and Eastern (Martinsburg/Charles Town). Which one are you going to?

I guess I showed my ignorance there. I had heard of the Martinsburg area referred to as the panhandle many times recently since some family ended up there and completely disregarded the Wheeling area, of course that makes perfect sense as a panhandle. We would be heading to the Martinsburg area more or less.

Much appreciated cpzilliacus!

Just to make sure I am thinking along the same lines that you mean... Are you implying that I would be mostly going downhill traveling north to south or would I still have to deal with significant climbs? I have driven I-81 once from Harrisburg to Binghamton but clearly I wasn't concerned with topography on that trip since nothing was remarkable to me, that I recall anyway.

I had hoped that this I-88 to I-81 would be a good way to avoid tractor trailer traffic at least but maybe since I will be be towing as well the I-78 route might prove best. All good food for thought and no decision has to be made immediately at least.

There are steep uphill and downhill grades both northbound and southbound on I-81 between Lebanon and Great Bend.  I am not confident to say which direction has the steepest grades up or down.  There is truck traffic along the entire corridor, though some trucks do leave I-81 at both I-78 and at I-80.  Still, you will encounter trucks all the way to Binghamton, N.Y. (and probably beyond - the only part of I-81 that I have not driven is between I-90 and the Ontario border).

One word of warning regarding the interchange at I-80 and I-81 in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania north of Hazleton - it is badly substandard, the ramps are sharp and (properly) posted with low speed limits.  This was mentioned by another poster upthread  - in case you take the alternate route suggested, then you will be on those substandard ramps.

That is very good to know and I will certainly keep that in mind. Given the fact that I will have a trailer in tow avoiding anything too sharp is exactly what I have in mind. From the sounds of it so far the consensus seems like maybe the I-88 to I-81 isn't all that much better than continuing down to I-84 at Newburgh and heading west that way or perhaps sucking it up with trucks and going down to I-78. All great and much appreciated food for thought!
 

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2021, 10:14:26 PM »

There is one advantage to I-88 that hasn't been discussed - the fact that the Thruway is free between I-87 and I-88 (though you still pass under gantries).  Traveling the Thruway to I-84 or NJ is not, and it's now an all-electronic toll road with no cash option.  If you don't have E-ZPass (or if the trailer creates an issue) that could be quite expensive.

And speaking of pavement, a co-worker told me that the pavement on the north end of I-81 in PA has gotten really bad.
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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2021, 11:17:06 PM »

Speaking of tolls, off topic, but here’s an interesting article from July 20, 1982. What ever happened with this?

Thruway’s Tolls to End in ‘96 with Federal Aid
Quote
Starting in 1996, motorists in New York State will be able to use the Gov. Thomas E. Dewey Thruway without paying tolls, under the terms of an agreement signed here today by representatives of the Federal Highway Trust and state officials.

The annual saving for truck and passenger car owners, assuming tolls in 1996 would be the same as now, would be $155 million. Under the agreement, the Federal Government will contribute $9.8 million next year and more in subsequent years to repair and rehabilitate the 559-mile road linking New York City, Albany and Buffalo. In the next 14 years, the total Washington contribution to repairing the Thruway may reach $550 million, officials said.

Bonds Will Be Paid in 1996

In return, the New York State Thruway Authority agreed that in 1996, when all its bonds are paid off, it would recommend to the State Legislature that the authority be abolished and the road be made toll free.

Under the terms of the agreement, if the Legislature does not eliminate the tolls, it must repay to the Federal Government all funds contributed by the Highway Trust. Officials here said such a repayment was most unlikely.

''New York's dream of a toll-free state Thruway will at long last come true,'' said Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who introduced the bill in Congress to make the agreement possible.

The Democratic Senator spoke during a brief ceremony at the Thruway headquarters here, attended by Lester P. Lamm, executive director of the Federal Highway Trust; Gerald Cummins, chairman of the Thruway Authority, and William C. Hennessy, State Transportation Commissioner. Shift of Jurisdiction

When the tolls expire in 1996, the Thruway and its employees, now totaling 2,500, will probably come under the jurisdiction of the Transportation Department. The Thruway Authority's budget for 1982 is $183 million, which is used for operations, maintenance and redemption of bonds.

At present, Thruway tolls are about 2.5 cents a mile for passenger cars, or $8.65 for a trip from New York to Buffalo. For Buffalo to New York, the total is $1.50 higher because of the Tappan Zee Bridge eastbound toll.

A possibility under the agreement signed today is that the bridge toll, too, will be eliminated in 1996.

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NoGoodNamesAvailable

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2021, 01:32:30 AM »

There is one advantage to I-88 that hasn't been discussed - the fact that the Thruway is free between I-87 and I-88 (though you still pass under gantries).  Traveling the Thruway to I-84 or NJ is not, and it's now an all-electronic toll road with no cash option.  If you don't have E-ZPass (or if the trailer creates an issue) that could be quite expensive.

And speaking of pavement, a co-worker told me that the pavement on the north end of I-81 in PA has gotten really bad.

If you download the "Tolls NY" app, you can pre-pay for tolls on a rental car (or any car). You enter the license plate number(s) on the app, choose the date and time range when you'll be driving, and add a credit card, and it will automatically take it from your account. I did this when I was taking a u-haul van in NYC a while ago and it worked great.
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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2021, 09:47:35 AM »

And speaking of pavement, a co-worker told me that the pavement on the north end of I-81 in PA has gotten really bad.

It wasn't Rothman, was it?  :-P

Has construction started on the stretch from the NY line to New Milford?  That stretch is horrible, but I think I saw VMSes that said they were finally fixing it.
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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2021, 09:52:30 AM »

On the subject of I-81 north of Scranton, I will note that the section between Scranton and the NY line has been one of the most frequent/consistent snags on trips to the east coast. Whether it's lane closures due to construction, an accident causing delays, or an endless sea of slow trucks micro-passing on the grades, it never seems to be clear sailing on that stretch.

It's also much too busy to close lanes for construction during daytime hours. That's something PennDOT badly needs to revisit.
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Rothman

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2021, 09:58:55 AM »

I haven't had any major congestion or accident issues on I-81 north of Scranton and I drive that way frequently (there was an accident last time, but the delay was just a couple of minutes).  I do think the stretch of really bad pavement from New Milford north contributes to people using the left lane and that can slow you down, but traffic generally still runs at a pretty good clip.
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FlatlanderinVT

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2021, 10:51:46 AM »

There is one advantage to I-88 that hasn't been discussed - the fact that the Thruway is free between I-87 and I-88 (though you still pass under gantries).  Traveling the Thruway to I-84 or NJ is not, and it's now an all-electronic toll road with no cash option.  If you don't have E-ZPass (or if the trailer creates an issue) that could be quite expensive.

And speaking of pavement, a co-worker told me that the pavement on the north end of I-81 in PA has gotten really bad.

If you download the "Tolls NY" app, you can pre-pay for tolls on a rental car (or any car). You enter the license plate number(s) on the app, choose the date and time range when you'll be driving, and add a credit card, and it will automatically take it from your account. I did this when I was taking a u-haul van in NYC a while ago and it worked great.

That is certainly good advice and I will look into that app here momentarily. The toll issue certainly had crossed my mind. I have an EZ-Pass for the truck from Massachusetts since I drive the Mass Pike frequently as part of trips to and from RI. The trailer of course would change things and it is my intention to reach out to both Mass and NY just to make sure I have all my ducks in a row if the tolled area of I-87 is part of our route.

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2021, 11:25:32 AM »

I haven't had any major congestion or accident issues on I-81 north of Scranton and I drive that way frequently (there was an accident last time, but the delay was just a couple of minutes).  I do think the stretch of really bad pavement from New Milford north contributes to people using the left lane and that can slow you down, but traffic generally still runs at a pretty good clip.

I've only used it once since the start of the pandemic, and there were no issues that time.

My prior experience has been that it moves well when there's no slow trucks passing or construction, but you're likely to encounter one or both of those in summer travel season.
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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #20 on: September 04, 2021, 10:53:52 PM »

And speaking of pavement, a co-worker told me that the pavement on the north end of I-81 in PA has gotten really bad.

It wasn't Rothman, was it?  :-P

Has construction started on the stretch from the NY line to New Milford?  That stretch is horrible, but I think I saw VMSes that said they were finally fixing it.
Nope; we work for different regions, anyways.  The person who talked about it is actually a roadgeek, though I don't know if he's on this forum or not.

There is one advantage to I-88 that hasn't been discussed - the fact that the Thruway is free between I-87 and I-88 (though you still pass under gantries).  Traveling the Thruway to I-84 or NJ is not, and it's now an all-electronic toll road with no cash option.  If you don't have E-ZPass (or if the trailer creates an issue) that could be quite expensive.

And speaking of pavement, a co-worker told me that the pavement on the north end of I-81 in PA has gotten really bad.

If you download the "Tolls NY" app, you can pre-pay for tolls on a rental car (or any car). You enter the license plate number(s) on the app, choose the date and time range when you'll be driving, and add a credit card, and it will automatically take it from your account. I did this when I was taking a u-haul van in NYC a while ago and it worked great.

That is certainly good advice and I will look into that app here momentarily. The toll issue certainly had crossed my mind. I have an EZ-Pass for the truck from Massachusetts since I drive the Mass Pike frequently as part of trips to and from RI. The trailer of course would change things and it is my intention to reach out to both Mass and NY just to make sure I have all my ducks in a row if the tolled area of I-87 is part of our route.


I've been curious about that myself, mainly for if my parents ever want to tow the boat on the Thruway for whatever reason.  I know at one time vehicles needed a separate tag for towing, but I'm not sure if that's still true.  Everything I've read seems to imply it isn't, though it would be nice to get hard confirmation of that.
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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #21 on: September 05, 2021, 05:15:29 PM »

For the OP, one comment regarding towing a trailer: Don’t be tempted to use I-70 between Frederick and Hagerstown, especially coming eastbound if you’re towing a trailer on your way back north. That segment has a lot of accidents near South Mountain and there are a fair number involving trucks. If you come through Maryland, I’d suggest you take US-340 southwest from Frederick to Charles Town, then WV-9 to Martinsburg.

I have a work colleague who lives in the Catskills during weeks when she telecommutes, and she regularly visits her mother in the Martinsburg area. I’d be happy to ask her what route she likes if you want, though it’ll be Tuesday before I get to ask her due to the holiday tomorrow.
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FlatlanderinVT

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2021, 10:27:54 AM »

For the OP, one comment regarding towing a trailer: Don’t be tempted to use I-70 between Frederick and Hagerstown, especially coming eastbound if you’re towing a trailer on your way back north. That segment has a lot of accidents near South Mountain and there are a fair number involving trucks. If you come through Maryland, I’d suggest you take US-340 southwest from Frederick to Charles Town, then WV-9 to Martinsburg.

I have a work colleague who lives in the Catskills during weeks when she telecommutes, and she regularly visits her mother in the Martinsburg area. I’d be happy to ask her what route she likes if you want, though it’ll be Tuesday before I get to ask her due to the holiday tomorrow.

Thanks for the heads up on that!

I hadn't really considered I-70 for the trip down anyway as I am hoping to make my way west long before that but it certainly sounds less than ideal now. Fortunately the trailer will only be going south and being returned somewhere in WV. Given that I am far less concerned with my route to return to Vermont but of course avoiding known trouble spots is never a bad idea.

It would certainly be interesting to hear what someone who does essentially the same trip prefers! There is no timeline yet as to when this will be happening so I am in no rush at all. Thanks very much!
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snowc

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2021, 12:33:18 PM »

Coincidentally, I was just on I-88 this afternoon while returning to Vermont.

I-88 is certainly an option to cut over to I-81.  It does carry less traffic than 84 or 78.  There are a couple disadvantages, however.  The pavement on much of 88 is lousy, especially from ~Otego to ~Cobleskill....I ran into 3 single-lane construction zones on this stretch that are beginning to address it, but it's going to take more than just this year to finish.  I-88 and I-81 are also much hillier than taking a route closer to NYC.  That will slow things down, and also causes problems with the trucks on I-81 which lacks truck climbing lanes outside of the I-80 to I-84 segment.

The hilliest part of I-81 is (from south to north) from I-78 (Exit 89) near Lebanon, Pennsylvania to PA-171 (Exit 230) near Great Bend, Pennsylvania.  Pavement varies from good to terrible along all of I-81 in Pennsylvania. 

Not all of I-81 in this part of Pennsylvania has steep grades, but the longest and steepest grades on I-81 can be found in this section of the corridor.
As a regular on I81, i would say AVOID the part from Binghamton to Scranton. VERY rough and needs a LOT of work. BE warned, as it popped my tires!  :wow:
I will be going back up probably next week or the week after, so I would pretty much avoid the rough patch!
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FlatlanderinVT

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Re: Trip from Northern VT to WV Panhandle w/ trailer
« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2021, 09:37:39 PM »

Coincidentally, I was just on I-88 this afternoon while returning to Vermont.

I-88 is certainly an option to cut over to I-81.  It does carry less traffic than 84 or 78.  There are a couple disadvantages, however.  The pavement on much of 88 is lousy, especially from ~Otego to ~Cobleskill....I ran into 3 single-lane construction zones on this stretch that are beginning to address it, but it's going to take more than just this year to finish.  I-88 and I-81 are also much hillier than taking a route closer to NYC.  That will slow things down, and also causes problems with the trucks on I-81 which lacks truck climbing lanes outside of the I-80 to I-84 segment.

The hilliest part of I-81 is (from south to north) from I-78 (Exit 89) near Lebanon, Pennsylvania to PA-171 (Exit 230) near Great Bend, Pennsylvania.  Pavement varies from good to terrible along all of I-81 in Pennsylvania. 

Not all of I-81 in this part of Pennsylvania has steep grades, but the longest and steepest grades on I-81 can be found in this section of the corridor.
As a regular on I81, i would say AVOID the part from Binghamton to Scranton. VERY rough and needs a LOT of work. BE warned, as it popped my tires!  :wow:
I will be going back up probably next week or the week after, so I would pretty much avoid the rough patch!

Well I appreciate this input as well!

From what everyone seems to mention the consensus appears like taking I-88 to I-81 might not be the best course of action. I am leaning towards staying on 87 down to 84 and making way westward from there to connect to 81 in Scranton. I haven't ruled out thinking about 78 but I am not sure I want to deal with the traffic levels I know can exist down that way. My hope with having a relative plan in mind is so that I can at make a bit of a chart of what look like easy fuel up locations along the route every 150/200 miles or so to make that process pretty seamless hopefully.

I plan on touching base with the NYS Thruway folks tomorrow on what my options for the tolls might be. I will report back on what they have to say. 
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