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Author Topic: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route  (Read 22051 times)

Haeleus

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Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« on: June 12, 2014, 04:55:35 PM »

I need some advice if anyone has driven from Buffalo or Toronto to Washington DC since the interstate grid makes this route a little awkward. Basically my choices boil down to taking the US 219 through Penn followed by I-99, I-70, or taking the detour via I-90, I-79, I-76, I-70. Google recommends the former and claims the travel time via the interior is faster while my Garmin recommends going via Erie and Pittsburgh. Perhaps someone here knows from personal experience if its worth taking the longer route while sticking to freeways. I don't know what the drive would be like on US 219 through the Appalachians, plus I know from past experiences Penn is conservative when it comes to speed limits unlike some other states I've visited.
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2014, 05:02:18 PM »

are you needing to make a speed run of it?  it's 380 miles, which can be done in a day on the freeway or in a day on two-laners.
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Haeleus

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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2014, 05:09:48 PM »

are you needing to make a speed run of it?  it's 380 miles, which can be done in a day on the freeway or in a day on two-laners.

I'm not in a rush and I don't plan on speeding beyond what's reasonable (aka 5 over or so). I'm spending a week in DC and am planning on driving a day's worth (8-9 hrs or so) in each direction, but essentially I'm looking for the quicker route. Personally I prefer driving on freeways and I'm wondering if its worth the 90 or so extra miles, but if the time difference is minimal I'd probably choose that way.
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2014, 05:20:12 PM »

I usually take 219 between I-80 and I-90, rather than the detour through Erie via I-79, unless there's snow in the mountains, or during the week when school is in session since waiting for school buses on a two-lane road with few alternate routes can be a pain.  But otherwise it's a toss-up for me.  Check ahead for construction in NY and PA, which might tip the scale one way or the other.

Do check out I-99 if you haven't done that already, which IMHO is despised here more than it deserves to be.
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2014, 05:41:37 PM »


I'm not in a rush and I don't plan on speeding beyond what's reasonable (aka 5 over or so). I'm spending a week in DC and am planning on driving a day's worth (8-9 hrs or so) in each direction, but essentially I'm looking for the quicker route. Personally I prefer driving on freeways and I'm wondering if its worth the 90 or so extra miles, but if the time difference is minimal I'd probably choose that way.

one route one way, the other route back?
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2014, 06:01:27 PM »

I haven't done US-219 south of Bradford PA, but the section through New York is pretty quick, and is a scenic drive.  In my experience, rural PA is best experienced off the interstate anyways.
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vdeane

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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2014, 08:40:55 PM »

If you're looking for freeway driving, your best bet is probably I-390/US 15. http://goo.gl/maps/Fa2K5
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oscar

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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2014, 09:12:51 PM »

If you're looking for freeway driving, your best bet is probably I-390/US 15. http://goo.gl/maps/Fa2K5

But then you have to get from I-80 to I-83 before getting back to freeway, and I-83 is one of the suckier freeways down here in addition to exposing you deal to some of Baltimore's traffic issues before you take on Washington D.C.'s.  The part of US 15 between I-80 and I-83 is mostly non-freeway, and I think it's more unpleasant than US 219 between I-90 and I-80. 
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2014, 09:36:25 PM »

But then you have to get from I-80 to I-83 before getting back to freeway, and I-83 is one of the suckier freeways down here in addition to exposing you deal to some of Baltimore's traffic issues before you take on Washington D.C.'s.  The part of US 15 between I-80 and I-83 is mostly non-freeway, and I think it's more unpleasant than US 219 between I-90 and I-80. 

US 15 and US 11/15 between I-80 and I-81 is largely 4-lane expressway along the Susquehanna River, so there is little cross traffic even if it is all at-grade.  There are two slow-downs around Lewisburg and Sunbury to Selinsgrove.

US 219 between I-90 and I-80, outside of the Buffalo and Bradford PA areas, is largely 2 lane (non-expressway) roads, up and down hills.

All that said...I don't think there is a single easy way...each way has it's own pros and cons...kinda depends on your travel preferences...freeway vs scenery, tolls, traffic lights, etc.

Once out of Ontario, my preference (and I've driven all of these routes):  I-190 South thru Buffalo -> I-90 West short distance -> US 219 South -> I-86 East to Corning -> US 15 South -> I-180 East -> PA 147 South (Milton) -> US 11 South -> US 11/15 South to Duncannon PA -> US 22/322 East -> I-81 South -> PA 581 East (around west side of Harrisburg PA) -> I-83 South -> I-695 West (around west side of Baltimore) -> I-95 South.

I will be driving from Rochester NY to DC in July, and I will be taking I-390 to I-86 and then following the same route above.  I've done that drive before and it's really not that bad.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2014, 09:43:54 PM by jemacedo9 »
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2014, 09:43:45 PM »

I recall going the I-79 route once en route home from Toronto. It took a good bit longer than the US-15 route. Haven't used US-219, but I'd opt for that, or some route using I-99, in preference to I-79 since the latter was just plain out of the way.
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2014, 09:53:24 PM »

Quote
But then you have to get from I-80 to I-83 before getting back to freeway, and I-83 is one of the suckier freeways down here in addition to exposing you deal to some of Baltimore's traffic issues before you take on Washington D.C.'s.  The part of US 15 between I-80 and I-83 is mostly non-freeway, and I think it's more unpleasant than US 219 between I-90 and I-80.

Once you're south of Selinsgrove, though, you're pretty good on US 15.  As for south of Harrisburg, US 15 to Frederick and I-270 is an option that would avoid Baltimore.
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hbelkins

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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2014, 10:41:57 PM »

If you're looking for freeway driving, your best bet is probably I-390/US 15. http://goo.gl/maps/Fa2K5

But then you have to get from I-80 to I-83 before getting back to freeway, and I-83 is one of the suckier freeways down here in addition to exposing you deal to some of Baltimore's traffic issues before you take on Washington D.C.'s.  The part of US 15 between I-80 and I-83 is mostly non-freeway, and I think it's more unpleasant than US 219 between I-90 and I-80.

No need to take I-83. Just follow 15 all the way south from Harrisburg to Frederick, then 270 into DC. It's a pleasant drive. I've done 15 north from Frederick twice, once to Gettysburg and once all the way to Harrisburg. And other than a couple of slowdown, the 11/15 four-lane isn't bad in my opinion. I've done it a couple of times as well.

I'm not a big fan of the two-lane portion of 219 in Pennsylvania. I did it once as part of my clinch of the route, and wouldn't necessarily want to do it again.
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2014, 01:39:41 PM »

You also probably want to avoid I-79 this season too.   There are 2-way sections where PennDOT is doing bridge work in Butler County.... at US-422 (a scheduled bridge replacement) and a little further south (an unplanned replacement necessitated by the bridges being messed up by an over-height truck), and I've heard that traffic can get bad there.
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Haeleus

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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2014, 07:52:39 PM »

Booked my hotel and Google decided to change the route again (funny how specifying a location in DC did that), looks like I'll be taking I-390, I-86, US-15, US-11, I-83 to the Baltimore area. Save for a ~70 km stretch between Buffalo and I-390 it looks like all freeway and 4-lane highway so I'm not expecting any problems.
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vdeane

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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2014, 08:10:35 PM »

You can always decide whether or not you want to clip the I-90/I-390 corner on NY 63 or not.  The truckers usually do, and it is shorter, but also two lanes.

Remember to take I-180 and PA 147 in Williamsport.  It's the freeway bypass for a two lane section of US 15.  The freeway bypassing Shamokin Dam isn't built yet, but that's the only slowdown between Williamsport and Harrisburg.
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hbelkins

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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2014, 09:12:57 PM »

Booked my hotel and Google decided to change the route again (funny how specifying a location in DC did that), looks like I'll be taking I-390, I-86, US-15, US-11, I-83 to the Baltimore area. Save for a ~70 km stretch between Buffalo and I-390 it looks like all freeway and 4-lane highway so I'm not expecting any problems.

If you want to avoid a two-lane section of US 11/US 15 north of Harrisburg, get on US 22/US 322 east where that highway crosses.
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Haeleus

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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2014, 09:47:17 PM »

Booked my hotel and Google decided to change the route again (funny how specifying a location in DC did that), looks like I'll be taking I-390, I-86, US-15, US-11, I-83 to the Baltimore area. Save for a ~70 km stretch between Buffalo and I-390 it looks like all freeway and 4-lane highway so I'm not expecting any problems.

If you want to avoid a two-lane section of US 11/US 15 north of Harrisburg, get on US 22/US 322 east where that highway crosses.

Yep, I'll be doing just that.
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2014, 09:04:03 PM »

Am I missing something?

The old US 15 routing essentially travels between Rochester and Frederick, MD.

It seems to me that the most direct routing from Toronto would be QEW to Buffalo.  I-90 to the area south of Rochester.  Then follow I-390 (replaciing the decommissioned old north end of old US 15) I-86 to US 15 thru Frederick and then I-270 to the DC area.

Most of US 15 is either freeway or high-level expressway.  There might be some shortcut to connect from Buffalo to US 15 that I'm not terribly familiar with, but by and large its' a straight shot down US 15.  I don't think there's any need to mess with mountainous 2-lane roads thru the Appalachians.
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2014, 08:48:08 PM »

There are a few places where you need to bypass 15 to stay on the freeway.  I-180/PA 147 is one of them, and US 22 is another.  I believe I-83 is actually shorter distance than 15 south of Harrisburg.
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2014, 11:07:19 PM »

I need some advice if anyone has driven from Buffalo or Toronto to Washington DC since the interstate grid makes this route a little awkward. Basically my choices boil down to taking the US 219 through Penn followed by I-99, I-70, or taking the detour via I-90, I-79, I-76, I-70.

If you're going as far west as I-79 to I-70, then you might as well stay on I-79 South to I-68 and take that east to I-70.  You "clinch" an interstate, you pay no tolls and no Breezewood!!  :bigass:
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2014, 12:30:16 AM »

The route you settled on ( I-390, I-86, US-15) sounds right to me. I grew up at roughly the mid-point of your trip (Williamsport), and having driven from there both north to Ontario and south to Baltimore and Washington countless times, I know all of that corridor extremely well.

A couple of observations, though...

You can cut the corner between I-90 and I-390 by exiting I-90 at Exit 48 (Batavia), then taking NY 98 South, NY 63 South, and NY 36 South, but I wouldn't. I’ve timed it both ways, and I haven’t found that it saves any time over the direct I-90/I-490 connection.

I disagree with those who say I-180 and PA 147 is a “must” to bypass US 15 between Williamsport and Shamokin Dam. Most of that stretch of US 15 is either four-lane or three-lane (with a passing lane in the uphill direction). Travel time is nearly the same on both routes. Your choice is a matter of scenic preference. US 15 crosses Bald Eagle Mountain and offers a terrific, sweeping view of the West Branch Valley, particularly from the northbound lanes. From a roadgeek perspective, I think the substandard “freeway” between Allenwood to Lewisburg is also mildly interesting. By contrast, I-180 and PA 147 has a more agrarian setting—and in my opinion, basically forgettable.

You mention that you have a reservation in the Baltimore area—is this because you want to visit Baltimore, or just because you thought it would be the most convenient stopover? Unless you actually want to go to Baltimore or are headed somewhere in the far northeast of Washington, I’d avoid I-83, Baltimore, and I-95 altogether. It has the potential to be the standout worst part of your trip. I’d second H.B. here—I’d take US 15 from the Harrisburg area to Frederick, then take I-270 South. You could make an overnight stop in Gettysburg or Frederick if you wanted. If you’re touring Washington, I’d actually recommend you take the I-370 exit in Rockville, park at the Shady Grove Metro station, and ride Metro into the city.

If you’re considering the I-270 alternative, use the following to get around Harrisburg: from US 11/15, take US 22/322 East to I-81 South, then PA 581 East, and finally, US 15 South again at Camp Hill. It may look roundabout on the map, but it’s the best way to avoid slow two-laners and traffic through Marysville, Enola, and Camp Hill.
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2014, 02:20:58 AM »

Quote
Unless you actually want to go to Baltimore or are headed somewhere in the far northeast of Washington, I’d avoid I-83, Baltimore, and I-95 altogether. It has the potential to be the standout worst part of your trip. I’d second H.B. here—I’d take US 15 from the Harrisburg area to Frederick, then take I-270 South.

To be fair, 270 is no picnic either, and dumps one onto the busiest (and most congested) quadrant of the Capital Beltway.  So as far as avoiding traffic and congestion, it's 6 of one and a half-dozen of the other.
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #22 on: June 21, 2014, 09:16:42 PM »

You could avoid the tolled portion of I-90 entirely by going I-190 South ->: I-90 West (this is part of the free portion) -> NY 400 South -> US 20A East -> NY 36 South -> I-390 South -> I-86 East OR I-190 South -> I-90 West -> US 219 South -> I-86 East.
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #23 on: June 22, 2014, 07:14:41 PM »

You could avoid the tolled portion of I-90 entirely by going I-190 South ->: I-90 West (this is part of the free portion) -> NY 400 South -> US 20A East -> NY 36 South -> I-390 South -> I-86 East OR I-190 South -> I-90 West -> US 219 South -> I-86 East.
I get the feeling the OP was more interested in staying on freeways than shunpiking.
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Re: Toronto to Washington DC, can't decide on route
« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2014, 09:27:59 PM »

You could avoid the tolled portion of I-90 entirely by going I-190 South ->: I-90 West (this is part of the free portion) -> NY 400 South -> US 20A East -> NY 36 South -> I-390 South -> I-86 East OR I-190 South -> I-90 West -> US 219 South -> I-86 East.
FWIW, I routinely see the US 20A route as recommended over the Thruway when I use mapping software. I have yet to take US 20A, so I don't know.

 


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