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  1. Default Driving Pittsburgh to Seattel--need advice

    Hey guys. I've never done the cross-country road trip before, but my new job will be taking me from Pittsburgh to Seattle this June. I've been looking up a lot of different routes, and am still not sure what the best way is. I'd like to go as quickly as possible to make time to set up shop in Seattle. My biggest question is whether I should try to avoid Chicago and stay south on I-80, or to go through it. Most routes take me through Chicago. Any thoughts? Also, if you guys have any cool places to stop at, that'd be nice too. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Time and Aggravation

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forums.

    Personally, I've never had a problem with the drive through or around Chicago taking a ton of time. Yes, I've been caught in the odd slowdown and stop-and-go situations, but what has always bothered me more is the general level of traffic, number of lanes, multiple intersecting freeways, etc. If time is your only criterion, then I'd recommend that you just bite the bullet (tolls) and take the Tri State Tollway (I-294) around Chicago. If you can afford another couple of hours on your 5 day drive and want a more relaxing experience, then I'd suggest taking I-70 to Indianapolis, I-74 to the Quad Cities, I-80 to Omaha and I-29 to Sioux Falls. That would put you on I-90 for the rest of the trip to Seattle. As for things to see along the way besides the obvious, check out these state lists and these highway lists.

    AZBuck

  3. #3

    Default

    I just drove I-294 from its junction with I-55 and the Wisconsin border and it was bad (major road construction that's going to last for a long time). Paying almost $5 to drive that I-294 was a ripoff. Regardless of what you do, I would avoid Chicago during rush hours.

    I second what AZBuck suggested: I-70/I-74/I-80/I-29/I-90.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    If you want to go via Chicago, stay on I-80 to I-355. They just extended it south to I-80 and it's a good road. It will end at I-290, just stay on that to I-90 in Schaumburg. Just try to avoid it in rush hour. My mapping program says that between WI and MT, I-94 is 30 minutes faster than I-90, but you would lose that and more if you hit MSP anywhere near rush hour. Going south as Buck and Gerald suggested adds a few hours but cuts out a lot of tolls. If you have an EZ-Pass, it works in IN and IL, but not OH.

    You are looking at a 2500 to 2600 mile trip - you could make that in 4 days if you drive 12+ hours a day, otherwise 5 days would be less tiring.

  5. Default

    Thanks guys. That's really helpful. Yeah, we would hit Chicago around rush hour unless we left really early or really late, and I'd like to avoid that. I never thought of the I-70/I-74/I-80/I-29/I-90 route plan, but I'm going to check with my friends and see if they want to do that. I'd prefer a couple of hours on the road driving rather than stuck in traffic around Chicago/MSP + paying tolls. Do you know if there are tolls on any of those? I tried looking them up, but wasn't having a ton of luck.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    There are zero tolls going that way. Be mindful of Columbus and Indy rush hours.

    Take 470 around Wheeling, the south bypasses around Columbus and Indy, 474 around Peoria, and take 280 around the south and west of Quad Cities IL/IA. Stay on 80 through DSM and take 680 to 29 near Omaha.

  7. Default

    Hey, thanks again for the great advice. One last question. Do you think we need to take the south bypasses through Columbus and Indianapolis if we are driving through them during mid-day, and similarly for the other big cities?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default a gamble

    If you are traveling at midday, you probably don't need to use a bypass, but its a bit of a gamble either way. If you want to stay on the safe side you could use them, but personally, unless I was approaching near rush hour, I would just drive straight through.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    The Columbus bypass only adds 5 miles and is just as fast due to lower speed limits going straight through. The Indy bypass is a LOT less hassle as there is no direct way to get from downtown to I-74. I have frequently gone around and through both cities, and will take the bypass every time around both of them. The bypass around Peoria is faster due to speed limits, and the way I suggested to get around the Quad Cities is better due to construction and road condition issues.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Have just driven most of this, just the way AZBuck suggested. Good roads all the way. Just be careful in the Quad Cities.... The I-80 bridge is partially closed due to worries about the bridge's condition, and is causing holdups and (I heard) rush hour chaos. Diversions are in place.

    I-90 across South Dakota and Montana is just great. Very pleasant driving, traffic is light and the places to stop are interesting.

    Have a great trip... I did!

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