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  1. Default LA to NYC - I-70 or I-80?

    Hi everyone,

    I'm from Sydney, Australia and am planning to do a cross country roadtrip during your winter (January or February).

    I want to isolate most of my exploring to the major coastal cities on both the east and west coasts. Accordingly, I'm trying to work out what is the quickest route from LA to NYC. So far as I can discern there are three main possibilities:

    1.) I-15, I-70, I-76, then on to I-80 all the way to NYC
    2.) I-15, then I-70 most of the way to NYC (i.e. through Kansas and St Louis)
    3.) The southern I-40 route.

    I have seen an enormous amount of discussion in relation to 1.) and 3.) but not a great deal in regards to 1.) and 2.) (i.e. I-80 versus I-70). Perhaps I'm not searching hard enough.

    Nevertheless, I would greatly appreciate any advice as to whether the I-70 (through St Louis) or the I-80 (through Chicago) is the best cross country route according to the following overlapping criteria:

    1.) Travel time
    2.) Road surface quality - less pot holes the better
    3.) Traffic - both in terms of raw numbers of vehicles and the percentage of vehicles which are trucks
    4.) Speed limits
    5.) Chance of weather delays - e.g. snow, ice etc.
    6.) Scenery (least important consideration).

    Also, how many days should I allocate for this trip?

    Thank you so much in advance for any assistance that you may be able to provide,

    Tim.

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    SIDENOTE: According to mapquest the I-70 route is actually shorter in terms of distance if you follow the I-76 (and then eventually I-78) at around Bedford instead of staying on the I-70 all the way to Baltimore.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default #1 could be the fastest

    Quote Originally Posted by chowdy View Post
    I'm from Sydney, Australia and am planning to do a cross country roadtrip during your winter (January or February).
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.
    So far as I can discern there are three main possibilities:
    Actually the fastest route when you factor in the parameters you have set is likely to be I-15 to I-80 and straight across. It is the route I would choose if I was making plans now. The problem is that predicting weather and road conditions 8-12 weeks in advance in the winter months is an excercise in absurdity. If this a normal winter pattern, option #1 will certainly beat the the other options, but heavy snowfall can pose problems in the Colorado rockies. Most professional drivers choose I-80 even though ground blizzards in Wyoming frequently close the road from time to time.

    Option #3 might be faster if both I-70 and I-80 are closed, but I doubt it.

    You should allow a minimum of five days to make this journey.

    Mark

  3. Default

    Thankyou very much for the info.

    Just a quick follow up question.

    How many driving hours would that route realistically take? How many driving hours per day is sustainable (factoring in exhaustion etc.) for such a trip?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default tiny differences

    I'd say your best bet this time of year will be to go where the weather looks best. The difference in travel times between the different options in good conditions is really insignificant.

    Its about a 2800 mile trip, and the difference between the routes works out to around 100 miles. As a percentage of the total trip, its such a small difference that an accident somewhere, reaching a major city at rush hour, or some other unforseen factor really can be the difference in which route is the fastest.

    In January, the biggest variable will be weather, so look at the long range forecasts just before you leave. And don't forget to keep checking the weather along the way, so you can adapt your route if a storm is now in your path.

    In terms of travel time, assuming good weather and otherwise typical conditions, you'll be looking at around 50 or so hours on the road when you include the necessary stops and slowdowns. I agree with Mark that 5 days is the minimum you should plan for this trip, which would require that you cover around 550 miles a day. That distance -which will take about 10 hours a day- is about the most I think you can cover safely in a day if you are planning to be doing long distance drives for several days in a row.

  5. Default

    Thank you for all the help.

    Please indulge me one more follow up.

    When will chains be required - assuming that I will be using "all weather" tyres. I understand regulations require me to have them ready in the car at all times - but in terms of actually fitting them - when will that be necessary with all weather tyres? Are there any alternatives to using chains?

    I'm sure that question sounds ridiculous to most of the users in this forum - but to an Australian who never has to drive through snow its new territory for me.

    Thanks very much in advance.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Only when its snowing

    Honestly, I live in an area where there is typically snow on the ground from November through March, and I've never once actually used a set of chains. I've had them, I've put them on, but I've never had the need to actually use them on a personal car or truck.

    That said, I suppose there are times where I could have used them, and maybe in retrospect wish I had been using them, but I've never run into serious trouble yet.

    Practically, if you are sticking to the interstates, the odds of you actually needing them are very small. Chains are only supposed to be used when the road is actually covered in snow, and if an interstate is so bad that you don't trust your all-season tires, its usually best to stop and wait for the plows to come through.

    Studded Snow tires would be an alternative to chains, but they aren't very practical for a cross country roadtrip.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Chain Control

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Honestly, I live in an area where there is typically snow on the ground from November through March, and I've never once actually used a set of chains.
    In the western states the decision as to when to put them on is usually not made at the convenience and/or whim of the car driver. State highway departments known as DOT (Department of Transportation) institute chain controls whenever conditions are deemed slippery. Vehicles with all-terrain tires (not all-weather) can usually pass without using chains, but every other form of vehicle is required to put them or or turn back.

    I, too, have driven weeks and months in the east and never put them on -- but the DOT's take a dim view of folks sliding off the road and over a 1200+ foot drop into the canyon below along western highways.

    Before you have to do it in the frozen mud, practice, practice on dry ground so you know how to do it. It is possible that you will be able to make the entire trek without putting on chains once, but it is just as likely that you will need to chain-up 4-5 days the journey.

    Mark

  8. Default cross country road trip - rental car options

    Hi Everyone,

    As per my previous postings - I'm a Sydneysider who is planning on taking a cross country road trip during your winter period (06/07).

    I'm trying to find the best rental car option. I feel a bit overwhelmed by the number of options and my lack of knowledge on American cars. So I thought I'd check with this forum to see if you had any ideas. I suppose my current working criteria is: fastest car (in terms of 0-60 acceleration times) with unlimited miles. Its hard to compare the various cars on offer because the rental companies are very vague about exactly which model spec they offer for each type of car - I'm guessing one has to assume they offer the lowest specification (e.g. SE for Dodge charger).

    Thanks in advance,

    Tim.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Direct Contact

    Sorry to say, I think the only way you'll be able to answer this question is by directly contacting the individual rental location where you'll be picking up the car.

    Since the available models vary widely from brand to brand, and sometimes even from location to location, what each company will have available can be hard to pin down. Its very difficult to get any rental car company to promise a certain type of car, and you'll almost always see "or similar" included their description of a type of car.

    Just a side note, as much fun as a sports car can be, it might not be the best choice for a cross country winter road trip. All of that extra power which allows a car to get from 0 to 60 as fast as possible can become a real problem when you are trying to get traction in even a small amount of snow. Just something to think about while you plan.

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