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Author Topic: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend  (Read 10271 times)

The Nature Boy

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Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« on: September 01, 2015, 10:05:23 PM »

I'm going to see the ol' girlfriend down in DC. Anybody have any advice for making this trip in a reasonable time frame? I plan to leave after work Friday at 5. My usual route is:

- I-95 to Massachusetts
- I-290 to the Mass Pike
- Mass Pike to I-84
- I-84 to I-91
- I-91 to I-95
- I-95 to the NJ Turnpike
- NJ Turnpike to I-295 at the Delaware Memorial Bridge
- Back to I-95 to DC

I have a feeling that that may get a big congested.
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1995hoo

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2015, 10:32:47 PM »

In Connecticut I'm partial to the Wilbur Cross/Merritt Parkway combination instead of I-95. Nicer drive and there aren't supposed to be trucks (though I've encountered them anyway), though leaving Maine at 5:00 PM you wouldn't get the scenic aspect of going that way. I don't know whether deer would be a worry on there at night.
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The Nature Boy

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2015, 10:43:23 PM »

In Connecticut I'm partial to the Wilbur Cross/Merritt Parkway combination instead of I-95. Nicer drive and there aren't supposed to be trucks (though I've encountered them anyway), though leaving Maine at 5:00 PM you wouldn't get the scenic aspect of going that way. I don't know whether deer would be a worry on there at night.

Yeah, if I had vacation days to spare, I would take Friday off and try to enjoy the scenery on the way down. I really enjoy the drive through CT on the Parkways (I-95, not so much).

The worst part about living north of the BosWash corridor and having friends in the DC area is that I get to endure the entire corridor when I visit.
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TravelingBethelite

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2015, 10:47:26 PM »

In Connecticut I'm partial to the Wilbur Cross/Merritt Parkway combination instead of I-95. Nicer drive and there aren't supposed to be trucks (though I've encountered them anyway), though leaving Maine at 5:00 PM you wouldn't get the scenic aspect of going that way. I don't know whether deer would be a worry on there at night.
They are quite common on the MP/Wilbur Cross south of I-91, especially between 11 pm and 4 am, as there is not much traffic going either way at that time that's not on I-95. Many are driving it for the scenery during the day,  :rolleyes: as you can't exactly see it at night. I rememeber all this so well (the deer part) because once, me and my dad were bound for friends in Glastonbury via U.S. 5, and narrowly avoided an accident with another car when we swerved to avoid a stag that hopped out onto the roadway.
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davewiecking

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2015, 12:03:00 AM »

Many folks heading from DC to NE swear by I's 83, 81, 84. I'm not necessarily one of them, but it's worth considering, especially if everyone else is trying to get somewhere on the same day.
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Rothman

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2015, 06:58:07 AM »

Having lived in DC and having traveled to western MA from there quite often, all I know is that although I-83 to I-81 to I-84 may be less congested (well...I-81 = TRUCKS!), that route did take me significantly longer if there were no incidents along I-95 and the NJTP or whatnot.
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hbelkins

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2015, 05:06:18 PM »

Any benefits in using the Tappan Zee vs. the Cross-Bronx and GW Bridge?
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Rothman

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2015, 06:59:08 PM »

That's when traffic reports come in handy, but I've found the Cross Bronx to be quicker if there are no incidents.
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noelbotevera

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2015, 07:07:04 PM »

I've done my Washington DC - Chambersburg fix a good amount of times. I'd say instead go to BWI to take the shuttle to Greenbelt, and take the metro. If you wanna do it with roads, I find using I-95, I-695 to I-70 and I-270 is fine, but I-270 can be clogged south of Exit 22. You can hit the metro at Shady Grove, and that's my family does. Do note that the route I've noted adds more time and mileage, but it's almost equivalent to the traffic on I-95.
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The Nature Boy

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2015, 09:28:01 PM »

I've done my Washington DC - Chambersburg fix a good amount of times. I'd say instead go to BWI to take the shuttle to Greenbelt, and take the metro. If you wanna do it with roads, I find using I-95, I-695 to I-70 and I-270 is fine, but I-270 can be clogged south of Exit 22. You can hit the metro at Shady Grove, and that's my family does. Do note that the route I've noted adds more time and mileage, but it's almost equivalent to the traffic on I-95.

Leaving my car at BWI won't work. I'm actually going to Alexandria so that would a hell of a ride. Plus she has free parking so I would be losing money if I pay for BWI parking.

The gamble with I-95 is that it is much faster if there's little traffic and no accidents. If you get unlucky, you're in for a long wait. That's why I'm unsure of what to do. I've never done the drive on a holiday weekend.
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1995hoo

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2015, 07:17:37 AM »

You didn't say when you're driving home, but if it's Sunday or Monday, note the Nationals have home games both afternoons (1:30 Sunday, 1:00 Monday) that will affect the traffic if you decide to go across the District instead of around via the Beltway.
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

Pete from Boston

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2015, 07:23:40 AM »

84-81-83 is longer, but much cheaper, and less risky. 

Regarding the Tappan Zee, there is less potential mayhem particularly going northbound than at the GW.  But peak/holiday times on it, too, can involve significant volume delays.

Since you're leaving Maine (not sure how far up) at 5, you'll miss most of the peak travel traffic.

Where you'll need to really watch your ass is on the way back.  I feel like people stagger holiday weekend departures, but all return in a shorter period of time, causing heavier congestion. I'd get an early Monday morning start if I were you.

I could not handle a distance relationship of this kind again.  Good for you for putting the effort in.  Keep close tabs on your driving costs, BTW—shuttle flights are cheap.
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PHLBOS

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2015, 03:31:54 PM »

You're actually heading the opposite direction of my Labor Day weekend travels (Philly area to Boston area).

Quote from: Your original Route
- I-95 to Massachusetts
- I-290 to the Mass Pike
- Mass Pike to I-84
- I-84 to I-91
- I-91 to I-95
- I-95 to the NJ Turnpike
- NJ Turnpike to I-295 at the Delaware Memorial Bridge
- Back to I-95 to DC

My suggested route (used such for the last 25 years, at least between I-90/Mass Pike and the NJ Turnpike):

- I-95 to Massachusetts (I-495) clarification
- I-495 to I-290 clarification
- I-290 to the Mass Pike
- Mass Pike to I-84
- I-84 to I-91 I-684
- I-684 to I-287
- I-287 to GSP
- GSP to I-95/NJ Turnpike

- NJ Turnpike to I-295 at the Delaware Memorial Bridge
- Back to I-95 to DC

IMHO, unless one is planning to make a stop at NYC; one's better off avoiding it.  Plus the toll on the Tappan Zee (for the return trip) is less than half of that of the GW.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2015, 03:44:18 PM »

The thing about Labor Day:  Kids are just back in school.  They've already had the summer to do everything they wanted to do.  Labor Day traffic I don't think is nearly as bad as it was in years past.  Of course with any 3 Day weekend there will be traffic on the road, but based on your travel times Friday evening, rush hour traffic is going to be lighter (which is important near Boston), and after that you'll encounter some but not an overwhelming amount of traffic.

NJDOT doesn't do any major construction work that requires lane closures during holiday weekends, and hopefully other states don't either.  And as far as accidents go - they could crop up on any route, so you just hope they don't on the route you take!  Unless you wanted to detour around NYC by using what PHLBOS suggested, you're going to be going thru the heart of the Northeast corridor from NYC into DC between approximately 11pm & 4am.  I think you'll be fine.
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froggie

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2015, 03:56:01 PM »

Labor Day is also late this year, which will have some impact as well.

Quote from: PHLBOS
- I-684 to I-287

Have you ever used the Saw Mill to "cut the corner"?  I've found it to be somewhat shorter/faster than taking 684 all the way down.
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Rothman

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2015, 04:45:59 PM »

Took the Merritt/Wilbur Cross to the Hutch to Cross County to Saw Mill to get to the City from MA once or twice.  I concur that the Saw Mill's a good route.
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The Nature Boy

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2015, 06:33:00 PM »

You're actually heading the opposite direction of my Labor Day weekend travels (Philly area to Boston area).

Quote from: Your original Route
- I-95 to Massachusetts
- I-290 to the Mass Pike
- Mass Pike to I-84
- I-84 to I-91
- I-91 to I-95
- I-95 to the NJ Turnpike
- NJ Turnpike to I-295 at the Delaware Memorial Bridge
- Back to I-95 to DC

My suggested route (used such for the last 25 years, at least between I-90/Mass Pike and the NJ Turnpike):

- I-95 to Massachusetts (I-495) clarification
- I-495 to I-290 clarification
- I-290 to the Mass Pike
- Mass Pike to I-84
- I-84 to I-91 I-684
- I-684 to I-287
- I-287 to GSP
- GSP to I-95/NJ Turnpike

- NJ Turnpike to I-295 at the Delaware Memorial Bridge
- Back to I-95 to DC

IMHO, unless one is planning to make a stop at NYC; one's better off avoiding it.  Plus the toll on the Tappan Zee (for the return trip) is less than half of that of the GW.

The girlfriend suggested avoiding the GW as well so I'll likely do that. I do wish that there was a time efficient way to avoid the NJ Turnpike, mostly for toll reasons. The 83, 81, 84 route is fine and I've done it multiple times but when you're leaving at 5 PM, you don't want to lengthen the trip too much. On the way, I'll likely do it though.

Thanks for the tips everyone.

(For some reason, I forgot the 495-290 transition.)
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1995hoo

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2015, 08:38:48 PM »

If you want to avoid the Turnpike, another possibility is I-78. If you go over the Tappan Zee, you can take either the Garden State Parkway or I-287 south to I-78. Then you have some choices once you're in Pennsylvania. At night, the traffic would be light enough to allow you to pick up US-222 near Allentown and take that past Reading to Lancaster, then US-30 to York and onto I-83. Or you could use I-78 west to I-81 near Harrisburg and pick up I-83 there. (Tip for a shortcut in York if you use the US highways option: When the freeway ends at the light at North Hills Road, turn left. Do not take the first ramp to I-83 since it goes north; instead, turn right at the next light after that ramp, go under the highway, then take the loop-around ramp on the right. This route saves a couple of miles over taking Route 30 all the way to I-83; if you look at a map, you'll see why. It also eliminates the need to drive on Arsenal Road....but if you're a Gunners fan you might like that.)

Another possibility, one I prefer from Harrisburg, is US-15 south to Frederick, then I-270 to the Beltway. I just like Route 15 a lot more than I-83. Easier drive and less traffic and avoids Baltimore. I do worry about deer when I'm on there late at night even though I've never seen one. A bigger issue right now is that there may be roadwork near Gettysburg. When we went up to the battlefield two weeks ago, the southbound side was down to one lane in the Gettysburg area for resurfacing. I have no idea whether the work is done yet. It was moving pretty well on a Sunday afternoon, though.

Check the distance on these options versus I-84 to Scranton. It might be shorter to use I-78.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2015, 08:40:56 PM by 1995hoo »
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

vdeane

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #18 on: September 03, 2015, 10:02:19 PM »

The thing about Labor Day:  Kids are just back in school.  They've already had the summer to do everything they wanted to do.  Labor Day traffic I don't think is nearly as bad as it was in years past.  Of course with any 3 Day weekend there will be traffic on the road, but based on your travel times Friday evening, rush hour traffic is going to be lighter (which is important near Boston), and after that you'll encounter some but not an overwhelming amount of traffic.

NJDOT doesn't do any major construction work that requires lane closures during holiday weekends, and hopefully other states don't either.  And as far as accidents go - they could crop up on any route, so you just hope they don't on the route you take!  Unless you wanted to detour around NYC by using what PHLBOS suggested, you're going to be going thru the heart of the Northeast corridor from NYC into DC between approximately 11pm & 4am.  I think you'll be fine.
The past couple years, I've usually found that Labor Day is the busiest holiday weekend, though this year is odd with all the schools starting early (why, I have no idea; the last time Labor Day was this late, they didn't need to start early...).  Memorial Day can't really compare because it's surrounded by school days on all sides and the 4th of July can't compare because there are no school days near it, allowing for trips to be spread out.  Labor Day, on the other hand, allows people to extend the weekend in the week before (usually) but forces everyone home immediately.
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Rothman

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2015, 10:03:44 PM »

Vdeane:  Some school districts haven't started yet (e.g., I know Bethlehem hasn't and I think I heard Ravena hasn't, either). :D
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vdeane

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2015, 10:37:01 PM »

Vdeane:  Some school districts haven't started yet (e.g., I know Bethlehem hasn't and I think I heard Ravena hasn't, either). :D
I have no idea what schedule the Albany districts are on.  My Mom has told me that all the Rochester schools are starting a week early this year.
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Rothman

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2015, 11:01:15 PM »

That would have been the smart thing to do, but some school districts decided to start after Labor Day out of tradition, I suppose.  They'll be in school up until the very end of June.
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1995hoo

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2015, 07:36:38 AM »

Vdeane:  Some school districts haven't started yet (e.g., I know Bethlehem hasn't and I think I heard Ravena hasn't, either). :D

It shouldn't affect the OP, but in Virginia almost none have. State law says they can't start until after Labor Day unless they get a waiver from the Commonwealth, and very few request one. Not surprisingly, the tourist industry was a major lobby behind the law, which is commonly known as the "Kings Dominion Law."

It does mean there's a lot of traffic returning to the DC area from elsewhere this weekend due to people who take vacations at the end of August when schools in other states have already opened.
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

jeffandnicole

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2015, 08:25:38 AM »

The thing about Labor Day:  Kids are just back in school.  They've already had the summer to do everything they wanted to do.  Labor Day traffic I don't think is nearly as bad as it was in years past.  Of course with any 3 Day weekend there will be traffic on the road, but based on your travel times Friday evening, rush hour traffic is going to be lighter (which is important near Boston), and after that you'll encounter some but not an overwhelming amount of traffic.

NJDOT doesn't do any major construction work that requires lane closures during holiday weekends, and hopefully other states don't either.  And as far as accidents go - they could crop up on any route, so you just hope they don't on the route you take!  Unless you wanted to detour around NYC by using what PHLBOS suggested, you're going to be going thru the heart of the Northeast corridor from NYC into DC between approximately 11pm & 4am.  I think you'll be fine.
The past couple years, I've usually found that Labor Day is the busiest holiday weekend, though this year is odd with all the schools starting early (why, I have no idea; the last time Labor Day was this late, they didn't need to start early...). 

Because more and more schools are hitting the panic button, and if that forecast says there's a chance of snow, schools are closed. (UGH)  Thus, open the schools earlier to build in more time in June to fit in those extra days.

Quote
Memorial Day can't really compare because it's surrounded by school days on all sides and the 4th of July can't compare because there are no school days near it, allowing for trips to be spread out.  Labor Day, on the other hand, allows people to extend the weekend in the week before (usually) but forces everyone home immediately.

It definitely depends on when schools open.   friend in Ohio sent his kids to school back around mid-August.  And before anyone claims it's due to snow, another friend's kids started school in Florida a day later.  So for many families, Labor Day is just a 3 day weekend, and the kids are already out of school by Memorial Day weekend.

In NJ, which historically started school after Labor Day, there has been quite a number of schools that opened up this past week prior to Labor Day.  There was some talk years ago about forcing schools - and even colleges & universities - to start after Labor Day to keep kids working in their summer jobs.  Thankfully enough people yelled asking what was more important: A college education or running the Merry-Go-Round at Morey's Piers, and the argument dropped.

There is a slight issue every year with some jobs, such as lifeguards, because kids do go back to school or take a few weeks off before re-starting school.  But NJ can't control the entire nation in deciding when school should begin.
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1995hoo

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Re: Maine to DC - Labor Day Weekend
« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2015, 02:09:35 PM »

Another issue is the proliferation of those standardized tests, which I'm told are often given in May. Starting in August allows more time prior to the tests and cuts down on wasted weeks after the tests are over.
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

 


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