AARoads Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:

New rules for political content in signatures and user profiles. See this thread for details.

Author Topic: Baltimore-Washington Area to Charlottesville  (Read 3111 times)

MASTERNC

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 517
  • Last Login: September 20, 2019, 08:21:32 PM
Baltimore-Washington Area to Charlottesville
« on: December 12, 2015, 02:58:08 PM »

Taking a trip to see my alma mater play a road basketball game at UVA next weekend.  I am picking up a friend at Reagan National Airport on Friday around 2 PM Friday and then dropping him off Sunday at BWI.

Having relatives in Richmond, I know my choices are either I-66 to US 29 (the most direct) or I-95 to I-295 and I-64 (a little longer and subject to congestion leaving DC, but all highway).  I also know Virginia's arterial system is rather fast but that it can slow down in busier areas.  Any advantage to one route over the other?
Logged

1995hoo

  • *
  • Online Online

  • Posts: 10306
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Fairfax County, Virginia
  • Last Login: Today at 11:24:33 AM
Re: Baltimore-Washington Area to Charlottesville
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2015, 11:29:16 PM »

I'm assuming you want to go directly from Reagan to Charlottesville. If so, there's no reason to go as far down as I-295. It's too far out of the way. I live just east of Springfield and my usual route is as follows, but take note of the comment at the end about traffic reports. This route is faster than US-29 for me most of the time (recognizing traffic vagaries can affect that) and it avoids the road construction around the Gainesville area. I also find it more scenic than 29, but then I've driven both routes so often that neither one offers me anything new.

(1) I-395 and I-95 south (I usually opt for the HO/T lanes if they're open, but if you don't have an E-ZPass you should not use them) to Exit 130. This is around 50 miles south of the airport. You can expect some traffic around Exit 156 due to Potomac Mills Mall Christmas shoppers.

(2) Take Exit 130 onto VA-3 west towards Culpeper. Gas is generally fairly cheap along Route 3 in this area.

(3) Go around 12 miles or so west to the intersection with VA-20 at Wilderness. You pass a Valero station shortly before this point and then there's an LGS for Route 20 south to Orange and Charlottesville.

(4) Go left onto Route 20 at the light outside the big Sheetz station. Follow it to Orange. You'll pass Waugh Enterprises Harley-Davidson on your right as you enter town.

(5) Make a left at the light outside the Exxon station onto southbound US-15 towards Gordonsville.

(6) Go 9 miles to Gordonsville, then take the second exit from the roundabout onto southbound VA-231. (On the return trip there are cutout shields just south of the roundabout.)

(7) Follow the road until it dumps you into US-250 at Shadwell, then continue west on 250 towards Charlottesville. How to go from there depends on whether you want to go directly to the University or whether you want to stop somewhere for food, as well as on where you plan to park. The easiest route to the basketball arena is to get onto I-64 westbound, follow it to Exit 118 for US-29, then go north on 29 to Leonard Sandridge Boulevard (called the North Grounds Connector Road on some maps). Exit onto Sandridge, go straight through the traffic light onto Massie Road, and the arena is on the left after the next light.

With the exception of step 7, I've been using this route since 1992 (step 7 is newer because Sandridge is a new road that wasn't there when I was in school). It's a reliable route most of the time, although I-95 never has "light" traffic and you can expect some heavy Christmas shopping traffic on Route 3 just west of I-95. I'd allow three hours for the drive to be safe, and I would also shoot for getting down there 45 minutes before game time, especially if you won't be parking near the arena (and I assume you probably won't be because the closest lots are almost certainly donor lots).

On the route home, Sandridge is not an option to go back to I-64 because it only connects to northbound 29. I usually use it anyway and then just stay on the bypass east of where 29 splits off. It takes me back to Shadwell and I just follow the reverse of the directions above (staying to the left at Cismont where VA-22 and 231 split—you want 231 there).

I find the US-15/VA-231 route preferable to taking VA-20 between Orange and Charlottesville because, while Route 20 is a nice scenic route and passes a very good winery in Barboursville, Route 20 is also a slower drive. Lower speed limit and almost nowhere to pass slowpokes. Route 15 is a four-lane road between Orange and Gordonsville. I also worry about deer on Route 20 if it's night.


Major tip: Listen to the traffic report on WTOP 103.5-FM before leaving the airport. Traffic reports air every ten minutes "on the 8s." You want to listen for I-95 and I-66 info. If one of them has a big problem or a serious wreck, use the other.



Edited to add—if you'd like a map link, I can post one Sunday when I'm using my PC.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2015, 11:39:13 PM by 1995hoo »
Logged
"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.

froggie

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 10757
  • Location: Greensboro, VT
  • Last Login: September 19, 2019, 09:52:39 PM
    • Froggie's Place
Re: Baltimore-Washington Area to Charlottesville
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2015, 09:13:16 AM »

Given the time of day you're departing National (especially if your friend's flight is late), plan on congestion getting out of the DC area no matter which route you take.
Logged

1995hoo

  • *
  • Online Online

  • Posts: 10306
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Fairfax County, Virginia
  • Last Login: Today at 11:24:33 AM
Re: Baltimore-Washington Area to Charlottesville
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2015, 10:19:44 AM »

BTW....regarding parking in Charlottesville, read all signs closely before parking. Like most universities, UVA has a lack of adequate parking coupled with a very efficient ticketing and towing operation. As a result, nearby businesses (Barracks Road Shopping Center being the most notable) are quite vigilant as well in monitoring for people who park and then leave. Some of the towing companies are located in very inconvenient places for retrieving your car. (I speak not from personal experience but rather from having to drive friends and roommates to retrieve their cars when they were towed!)

On a Saturday, MOST permit restrictions would not be in place except for donor lots. But I said "MOST" because it's important to read the signs carefully. While most of the time the lots' signs will say, for example, "S2 permits only Monday to Friday 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM" (S2 is the Lambeth Field Apartments lot near the basketball arena), other lots will sometimes have further text underneath saying "University permits only all other times." If the sign simply says the former language, it's OK to park there without a permit on Saturday, but if it includes the "University permits only" language, do not park there at any time without a permit.

There are two pay garages within reasonable walking distance of the arena, one a big one just south of the railroad overpass above Emmet Street and the other a bit further down Emmet next to Mem Gym (this is the one with the Newcomb Hall bookstore on top of it). They are both pay facilities and exiting can be slow, but you don't have to deal with permits and the like. My suggestion on a December Saturday when many students will be out of town is to see whether the Lambeth Field lot is available and unrestricted and, if so, park there and use the pedestrian bridge across Emmet Street to the arena area.
Logged
"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.

MASTERNC

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 517
  • Last Login: September 20, 2019, 08:21:32 PM
Re: Baltimore-Washington Area to Charlottesville
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2015, 01:51:53 PM »

Thanks for the advice, everyone.  I'll print out the directions since I am not sure if GPS will pick up that route.

I should add the game is Saturday (so time is not an issue on Friday) and we are staying near the Medical Center in town.  If the weather is good and the route is walkable, we might try to avoid driving from the hotel to the game.

Full disclosure: I did live in Northern Virginia at one point but it was more than 20 years ago and I had never done any route to points south & west other than I-95 or US 301.  That said, I do remember some of my way around the area.  I'm up in Philly now.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2015, 01:54:22 PM by MASTERNC »
Logged

1995hoo

  • *
  • Online Online

  • Posts: 10306
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Fairfax County, Virginia
  • Last Login: Today at 11:24:33 AM
Re: Baltimore-Washington Area to Charlottesville
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2015, 02:11:05 PM »

If you're staying near the hospital it's a pretty easy walk to the game. For what it's worth, I've walked from downtown to the University, or vice versa, multiple times over the years and it's not a bad nor unsafe walk, and the walk to the arena is far shorter. The easiest route from the hospital is up the Corner (University Avenue where all the shops and restaurants are) to Rugby Road, across Beta Bridge (obvious from the paint all over it), immediate left turn, go past the Lambeth Colonnades, then follow the path down the hill and over the pedestrian bridge.

Driving all the way down on Friday afternoon means the traffic will be a crapshoot, as froggie mentions. At 2:00 PM you'll be too early to take advantage of HOV on I-66 westbound. It's hard to say how traffic will be on there or on I-95. I wouldn't be surprised if there's some volume of long-distance traffic due to people making an early getaway in advance of Christmas, but then since Christmas itself isn't for another week it won't be horrible and I'd expect you'd encounter more mall traffic than long-distance traffic. If you have an E-ZPass, the I-95 HO/T lanes would likely provide you with more of an "express" trip than the left-lane HOV-2 facility outside the Beltway on I-66—but then again, the HO/T lanes do back up at their southern end, so you'd want to be ready to bail out at Quantico (the BGS in the express lanes lists Route 619).

If you do take I-66, you have three good options for connecting to Route 29 south to Charlottesville:

(a) Take Exit 43 for US-29 at Gainesville. Easiest route. Some roadwork still going on in Gainesville but the biggest part of the work is done. There are a bunch of annoying new traffic lights between I-66 and US-15 associated with commercial sprawl.

(b) Take Exit 40 for US-15 at Haymarket, go left at the light, then follow to US-29 and turn right. Note this is a two-lane road with an at-grade railroad crossing and it is definitely no longer an "undiscovered" shortcut. I-66 is also being widened between Exits 43 and 40, so there's construction to deal with.

(c) Continue further west on I-66 to the next exit after Haymarket for VA-245, marked for The Plains. Go left at the bottom of the ramp and follow it a mile or two to US-17, then go left again and follow it to the Warrenton bypass. It'll put you onto US-29 just east of Warrenton and just west of another short commercial stretch. This route is longer mileage-wise. It can save time depending on the time of day and the traffic volume through the Gainesville area.


BTW, if you want a great dinner spot for Friday night, I love the Shebeen South African pub in downtown Charlottesville. It's located off Ridge-McIntire Road in the Vinegar Hill Shopping Center, a tiny strip mall across the street from the Omni Hotel next to McDonald's. I think I've liked everything I've had there. It's off the beaten track in terms of places the students frequent, which means it tends to be less crowded. If you like sitting at the bar and watching rugby or soccer on the TV, this is definitely the place to go, but of course they have regular tables as well. The mussel appetizer is outstanding.
Logged
"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.

Mapmikey

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2717
  • Co-curator with Froggie of www.vahighways.com

  • Age: 49
  • Last Login: Today at 10:35:23 AM
    • Co-curator Virginia Highways Project
Re: Baltimore-Washington Area to Charlottesville
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2015, 02:30:22 PM »

Given the time of day you're departing National (especially if your friend's flight is late), plan on congestion getting out of the DC area no matter which route you take.


This.

No matter what you do it will be painful if you leave Nat'l Airport at 2 p.m. on a Friday.

Mike
Logged

MASTERNC

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 517
  • Last Login: September 20, 2019, 08:21:32 PM
Re: Baltimore-Washington Area to Charlottesville
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2015, 09:16:39 PM »

Thanks for the tips.  Ended up relying on Waze, which took us 66 to 29.  Unusually easy ride (other than congestion around Charlottesville).  We completely missed the DC rush hour on Friday, so the trip took us about 2 hours.
Logged

1995hoo

  • *
  • Online Online

  • Posts: 10306
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Fairfax County, Virginia
  • Last Login: Today at 11:24:33 AM
Re: Baltimore-Washington Area to Charlottesville
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2015, 10:19:55 PM »

I hear the game was pretty good too. I missed it because we went to see Star Wars.
Logged
"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.

MASTERNC

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 517
  • Last Login: September 20, 2019, 08:21:32 PM
Re: Baltimore-Washington Area to Charlottesville
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2015, 09:17:21 PM »

I hear the game was pretty good too. I missed it because we went to see Star Wars.

It was.  Game was a lot closer than the final score, so not too bummed about us losing (you can tell now I am a Villanova fan). You guys are incredibly good and the sky should be the limit this season. 

Loved the arena and the town, plus the fans around us were extremely friendly.  Hope we play there again (in the meantime, the series comes to Philly next year).
Logged

1995hoo

  • *
  • Online Online

  • Posts: 10306
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Fairfax County, Virginia
  • Last Login: Today at 11:24:33 AM
Re: Baltimore-Washington Area to Charlottesville
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2015, 08:07:04 AM »

I knew which school you attended when you referred to seeing your alma mater play a road game.

I haven't been to the new arena since it opened. I took a tour at my reunion in 2005 when it was still under construction, but I just haven't been able to get there for a game yet. Maybe later this winter for a Saturday afternoon game.
Logged
"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.

MASTERNC

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 517
  • Last Login: September 20, 2019, 08:21:32 PM
Re: Baltimore-Washington Area to Charlottesville
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2015, 07:59:51 PM »

I knew which school you attended when you referred to seeing your alma mater play a road game.

I haven't been to the new arena since it opened. I took a tour at my reunion in 2005 when it was still under construction, but I just haven't been able to get there for a game yet. Maybe later this winter for a Saturday afternoon game.

Guess I forgot mentioning that part.

Definitely recommend taking in a game.
Logged

 


Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.