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  1. Default Fear of Mountain Roads - Driving From Jacksonville, FL to Chicago

    Help please. Need to drive from Jacksonville, FL to Chicago. After a catastrophic auto accident 8 yrs ago, I have severe panic on open view mountain roads. (Anything with significant open drop view on only 2 lanes.) How do I aviod this? Any help greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Easily

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Personally, I would fear driving into Chicago far more than over mountain roads, particularly Interstates, but that's my phobia. In your case, the first thing you need to realize is that Interstate Highways are built to design specifications that limit grades (steepness of the road) and the sharpness of any curves so that the roads are both safe and can be traveled at highway speeds. The most direct route from Jacksonville to Chicago over the Interstates (I-10/I-75/I-24/I-65) skirts just south of the main portion of the Appalachian Mountains and really shouldn't present you with any driving difficulties. However, there are sections, mostly around Chattanooga, that you might not be comfortable with, and Atlanta can be a nightmare as well.

    Fortunately, there is an alternative route that only adds about 35 miles, avoids both those problem areas, and can still be driven in two solid days of effort. That would be to leave I-75 at Tifton GA and take US-82 west to Dawson and GA-520 north to Richland, From there, US-280 would take you to Birmingham AL where you can use I-459 southwest to connect with I-65 for the rest of the drive to Chicago. Note also that the non-Interstate portions of that route are mostly four lane divided highways through terrain varying from flat farmland to rolling (NOT mountainous) woodlands.


  3. Default

    LOL Thanks, AZB...I can handle Chicago, just not mountain roads... Atlanta is a nightmare because of traffic jams or elevations? Thanks again !

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Atlanta

    Atlanta sits on the Piedmont Plateau, a relatively flat (though gently sloping) terrain. No, elevation is not the problem. Traffic is. I got more than my fill of urban traffic over the 15 years or so that I 'commuted' the BosWash Corridor between my home in Maine and my family which was spread out between Philly and DC. After a few times using I-95 I adopted one of two alternative approaches. The first was to swing well wide around New York on back roads. The second was to make the drive in the middle of the night, leaving around 11:00 PM and arriving before 7:00 AM. I now avoid large cities whenever/wherever I can.


  5. Default Much needed info, thanks!

    I just stumbled upon this thread while planning my trip from Vero Beach, FL to Chicago and back. I, too, am terrified of mountain roads. I drove with my daughter to Chicago, via Charlotte, a little over a year ago and driving through the Smokey Mountains about did me in. Now, I will confess that I am from Virginia originally and spent 12 years living in the Shenandoah Valley. I think living in Florida for the past 18 years has made elevations harder for me to take. I also spent several years in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC and was used to driving in a lot of traffic. But, the last time I drove through Atlanta, I panicked. Again, this Florida life has spoiled me.
    So, I am going to take your advice on the alternate route around Atlanta and the mountains on the drive up to Chicago. Coming back, I will have my younger daughter, who can drive, and a dog with me.
    If you have any suggestions for places to stop and eat on that route, I'd love to hear about them.

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