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  1. Default DC to Portland, ME

    Hey guys, My gf and I are planning to go upto ME for thanksgiving. We plan to leave on Tuesday evening, and drive as much as we can. Spend the night on the road, and then started driving the next day (Wednesday) and reach by the evening.

    Now the weather forecast seems pretty sucky for the area, and I am concerned about traffic and such. I had earlier asked about an indirect way to go to Boston, MA. We were planning to follow the same route for a large portion (and then bypass Boston and hit I95. But I am worried about the traffic, given the rain and possible snow.

    Is there an alternate way we can take (smaller roads, if necessary) so that we don't really hit a lot of traffic? I am just worried as it seems like a perfect combination of holiday time with the weather, creating nightmarish traffic.

    Please, bomb me with suggestions. We do plan to constantly monitor the traffic and see which route to take and we are 100% flexible.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Hate to discourage you, but the forecast right now for Wednesday is absolutely terrible for the whole Eastern seaboard. I don't know if there is ANY good way to do it. Your best chance for staying out of snow and ice will be nearest the coast, but conversely the traffic will be worse.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Out Back of Beyond

    I've driven this (these) route(s) more often than I care to remember and have run into both interminable delays on the Interstates on holiday weekends and impassible back roads while 'shunpiking' in the winter. All I can say is that you will need to have more than one possible route in your back pocket, even as you start out, and be ready to shift between them all as conditions dictate. So herewith some of the major alternatives to I-95 (which I wouldn't go near even with a police escort over Thanksgiving).

    1) Interstate Route: The simplest 'back' way up to Portland is to first head west out of the DC area either on I-270 (not my first choice) or VA-7 with the objective of getting on US-15 north either at Leesburg (VA-7) or Frederick (I-270). Take that four-lane highway up to Harrisburg and use PA-581/I-83 as a beltway around the town to hook up with I-81 north. At the northern end of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area use I-380 east/south to get to I-84 east. Follow that all the way through New York and Connecticut until it joins the Mass Pike (I-90). Leave the toll road at Worcester onto I-290 which will connect with Boston's outer beltway, I-495, to take you up to I-95, the New Hampshire and Maine Turnpikes, for the remainder of the drive up to Portland. That's the most straightforward way to avoid Baltimore, Philadelphia, the Jersey Turnpike, New York City, and coastal Connecticut, and might be the way I would start out - aiming for Harrisburg or a little beyond on my short first day.

    2) Alternatives to (1): While the above route is my first choice for what you want to do, there are sections along it that will be subject to heavy traffic over Thanksgiving, particularly I-84 from before Waterbury to after Hartford and I-495 around Boston, so here are a few of my favorite 'back roads' around some potential bottlenecks. The first is US-15 into Harrisburg. While US-15 is a great road to get north and make the connection to I-81 its approach into southern Harrisburg leaves something to be desired. A good alternative is to leave US-15 at York Springs and take PA-94/PA-34 up through Mount Holly Springs and join I-81 at Carlisle. Next up, if traffic is heavy through Danbury CT consider taking US-6 from Southbury to where it rejoins I-84 just west of Hartford. You can also skip the Mass Pike by using US-20 from Sturbridge to Auburn but note that you will connect with the very northern end of I-395 which turns into I-290 through Worcester just to the north.

    3) Really, really back there: Back when my brother and I were semi-regularly 'commuting' between southern Maine and the Chesapeake Bay region I once took him on a route I had found. He accused me of driving across people's lawns a (slight exaggeration) and driving through the 'boonies' (a charge initiated by the fact that one of the roads used was named the Boonton Turnpike). While both of those particular bits of road have now been swallowed up by New York City sprawl, there are smaller roads, closer to the coast than what I've recommended so far, that might be of use to you if the weather is good, and the major roads are jammed with everyone and their aunts and uncles and third cousins twice removed headed over the river and through the woods. I'd still leave Washington via US-15 north but use US-30 through York PA to Lancaster where I'd hop on US-222 northeast. Take that up to the ABE (Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton) area and use PA-100 to connect with US-22 (initially duplexed with I-78, but stay with US-22). Just short of Easton take PA-33 north to US-209 and use that to transit the Delaware Water Gap and hop on I-84 north of Milford PA. There is one final alternative route worth discussing and that is Boston's secret outer-outer beltway. MA-128/I-95 forms the inner beltway and I-495 the outer, but if traffic is really, really bad there is a third alternative. At Worcester take I-190 north rather than using I-290 over to I-495. At Leominster jog east on MA-2 to MA-13/NH-13 north to Milford and get on NH-101 east which is mostly freeway quality and will put you down in the middle of the New Hampshire Turnpike (I-95).

    And mostly: Good Luck!


  4. #4

    Default Getting to salt water

    Hello again dinesh75,

    Good to see you're on the Road again. You're a braver man than I, I must say. I wouldn't venture up the northeast corridor over Thanksgiving on a bet. Wednesday's forecast shows heavy rain close to the coast (I-95 corridor) and heavy snow west/north of there (5 to 8 inches in the Poconos, where I-81 from Harrisburg to Scranton goes).

    While I join AZ Buck in wishing you the best of luck, I'd be headed for Maryland's Eastern Shore, say, St. Michaels, for some salt air and coastal photography. Different topography and culture from Portland, ME, no doubt, but lacking the significant challenges of getting there and back over this particular weather-challenged holiday weekend.

    I much look forward to your report!

    Safe travels,


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