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  1. Default Good $ amount for tolls?

    How much $ should we set aside for tolls Traveling from South West Maryland to San Francisco with a few days in Denver??? Driving in a normal car.

    Any simple (not out of the way) routes to avoid too much $ in tolls?

  2. #2
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    Default There's a "Southwest" Maryland?

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    If you were to mindlessly follow the recommendations of computer-based mapping routines, you could end up paying the equivalent of a couple of tank-fulls of gas to the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. But there's really no need to do that. For an extra 25 miles (or the cost of one gallon of gas) you can bypass all those toll roads and the cities that they go through by taking the following route. Head west out of Maryland on I-68 to Morgantown WV and then jog north on I-79 to Washington PA and get on I-70 westbound. At Indianapolis switch over to I-74 and take that to Champaign-Urbana IL and take I-72 west from there. That will become US-36 when it enters Missouri at Hannibal. Take US-36 all the way across Missouri to St. Joseph and hop onto I-29 north. Just after entering Iowa use IA-2/NE-2 to cut over to I-80 at Lincoln and take that the rest of the way to San Francisco. Total Tolls: $4-6 (depending on the time of day you cross) for the Oakland Bay Bridge into San Francisco.

    If that bit about using US-36 across Missouri bothers you, you can stay on I-70 all the way to Kansas City and get on I-29 there rather than at St. Joseph. But US-34 is four lane road for the most part with bypasses around the larger cities, and will save you about 50 miles and an hour's driving vs. the I-70 route through St. Louis and Kansas City.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
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    Default

    At Indianapolis switch over to I-74 and take that to Champaign-Urbana IL and take I-72 west from there. That will become US-36 when it enters Missouri at Hannibal. Take US-36 all the way across Missouri to St. Joseph and hop onto I-29 north. Just after entering Iowa use IA-2/NE-2 to cut over to I-80 at Lincoln and take that the rest of the way to San Francisco.
    Even easier - just stay on I-74 to Moline to pick up I-80.

  4. Default

    What exactly is the toss up between time spent and money saved? We are trying to take the fastest route and worry about sightseeing later in the year.

  5. #5
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    Default Entirely Up to You

    How much is your time worth? As a very rough guide, I would use about $10/hour. That is, if a road were going to charge me a $10 toll, it had better save me at east an hour of driving time, or make the drive so pleasant that I wouldn't mind being parted from my money. The turnpikes and toll roads of he industrial Midwest do neither, at least not for the trip you're proposing. As I noted earlier, the route I laid out for you will 'cost' you maybe an hour or so. Is an hour of your time worth that much more than $50+ it will cost you to drive I-90 (as well as the hassle of driving through or around Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, Gary and Chicago) that you'll pay the money? Are you absolutely sure you won't just be paying the money and still get tied up in traffic and lose the hour anyway?

    AZBuck

  6. #6
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    Default

    You didn't say exactly where in "southwest Maryland" you are, but I'm going to assume somewhere in the DC area. Buck's route with my modification adds 50 miles and about 45 minutes to your trip over taking the turnpikes from Breezewood to south of Chicago, and you will never leave the Interstate highway system. It's actually 20 miles shorter than Buck's recommendation of US-36. It will save you $27.27 if you have an EZ-Pass, $40.75 if you do not. There will be no tolls whatsoever till you get to San Francisco.

    The Carquinez Bridge on I-80 in Vallejo has a $5 toll, collected eastbound only. The Bay Bridge is $4 off-peak, $6 peak, collected westbound only. Peak is 5a-10a and 3p-7p M-F.

  7. #7
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    Default

    Most of the advice so far is focused on the best direct route from Maryland to SF, however, if I understand your original question, you also want to stop in Denver, correct? Denver, of course, is not on the most direct route.

    If you want to go through Denver, I'd recommend you follow Buck's previous advice about getting to I-70, and then sticking with I-70 all the way through St. Louis and KC to Denver.

  8. #8
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Buck's route with my modification adds 50 miles and about 45 minutes to your trip over taking the turnpikes from Breezewood to south of Chicago, and you will never leave the Interstate highway system. It's actually 20 miles shorter than Buck's recommendation of US-36.
    If you're looking for a speed trip, I would generally agree that sticking with I-74 to Davenport would be a slightly better option, as it avoids all stoplights and cross street traffic.

    However, US-36 is a very reasonable alternative that is a quite pleasant drive through Missouri. It shows up to be 20 miles shorter on Googlemaps, as long as you are also using the NE-2 shortcut to avoid Omaha.

    I would say both options could actually end up being faster than sticking with the tollways, because while they are a little longer, you're going to have less chance for traffic issues, especially around Chicago. I'd say both would be a more pleasant drive, even if they end up taking a touch longer.

  9. #9
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Most of the advice so far is focused on the best direct route from Maryland to SF, however, if I understand your original question, you also want to stop in Denver, correct? Denver, of course, is not on the most direct route.

    If you want to go through Denver, I'd recommend you follow Buck's previous advice about getting to I-70, and then sticking with I-70 all the way through St. Louis and KC to Denver.
    Sorry I missed that! Yes, take I-70 all the way to Denver, there is a $2.75 toll in Kansas.

    The fastest route from Denver to SF is take I-25 north to Cheyenne to pick up I-80.

    On I-70, these are the best ways through/around the major cities:

    Wheeling: I-470, as long as construction is complete. I-70 is narrow, winding, and drops down to 1 lane through a tunnel.

    Columbus: Unless it's rush hour, take I-70 straight through. In rush hour, take I-270 south.

    Indy: I-465 south.

    STL: I-270 north.

    KC: I-70/I-670/I-70 straight through except in bad weather or rush hour - or if they have lanes closed for construction downtown (this is a continuing project). If that's the case, I-470/I-435 south.

  10. Default

    Thank you so much everyone!!!
    One more question though; how much should I expect to pay on nights in hotels along the way? It will be 2 adults and we will be stopping outside of large cities to keep costs down.
    Thank you again!

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