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  1. Default Driving from New York to Florida. How much time will this I-95 S Exit 52 detour save?

    I'm driving from New York to Florida and was planning on taking I-95 S the entire way. I didn't see any point in having to pay attention to Waze or any other navigation apps. Here is a dilemma I'm facing:

    Both Waze and google maps have me taking this detour off I-95 South:

    Take exit 52 for MD-295 S/Balt/Wash Pkwy
    0.9 mi
    Merge onto MD-295 S
    5.5 mi
    Keep right to stay on MD-295 S
    0.1 mi
    Continue straight to stay on MD-295 S (signs for Route 195 W)
    440 ft
    Keep left to stay on MD-295 S
    5.8 mi
    Continue onto Baltimore-Washington Pkwy
    18.2 mi
    Keep left to stay on Baltimore-Washington Pkwy
    0.5 mi
    Continue onto MD-201
    0.3 mi
    Continue onto State Hwy 295
    Entering District of Columbia
    2.0 mi
    Keep left to stay on State Hwy 295
    2.1 mi
    Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 1B-C for I-695 toward Downtown
    0.4 mi
    Continue onto I-695 W
    1.9 mi
    Merge onto I-395 S
    1.0 mi
    Keep right to stay on I-395 S
    Entering Virginia
    11.1 mi
    Merge onto I-95 S

    Itís a long trip and I'd prefer not to have to think too much, but if the detour will save a lot of time, then I'll take it. How much longer will the trip be if I just stay on I-95 S toward Washington?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,684

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I can't say how much time it will save - especially when you're talking about a part of the country where Traffic backups are routine. The time of day, day of the week, and simply luck will all be factors.

    I will warn that "just staying on I-95" isn't as simple as getting on a highway and just driving - I-95 in particular will have lots of sections where you'll be co-signed with other highways and will need to exit to stay on I-95. I-95 in particular is a collections of lots of different highways, run by different jurisdictions, and was planned to run down some roads that never got built - heck, until 2 years ago, I-95 didn't even connect between NJ and PA!

    I would also urge against blindly following what computerize mapping programs tell you - make sure you always know where you are telling your car to go. Paper maps can actually be easier in this regard. Also don't fall for the fantasy travel time estimates by those programs - your actual travel times will be at least 20% longer - and probably even more factoring the traffic problems that are routine on I-95. It's at least 2 full days from NY to FL - maybe even 3 if you're heading to South FL.

    It you want an easier drive, you might also consider making your way out to I-81 and use that to make your way south - completely bypassing the challenge that is I-95 - cutting back to I-95 in South Carolina. While that is longer, it's a much easier drive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    10,036

    Default

    I will do anything to avoid I-95 between Boston and Richmond, any day, any time of the day!

    Take I-78 out of NYC to I-81 to I-77 to I-26 back to I-95.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the quick replies.

    If it makes a difference for the answer, I'm going to be starting the trip this upcoming January 1st. I should be on the road by 9:00 A.M. Assuming I leave at exactly 9:00, quick research shows that I should be by I-95 exit 52 by 12:30 P.M. If there is no northeast snow or other adverse conditions, I'm also assuming that the first day of the trip should be relatively traffic and problem free.

    I'm planning on staying the first night in South Carolina, leaving the next morning, and arriving in West Palm Beach the next night. Navigation apps and pages are consistently showing around 9 hours for each leg of the trip. Accounting for a lunch break and unforeseen traffic, I was thinking a maximum of 11 hours travel time each day. Given the additional details, are my goals realistic? I will be travelling by myself.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,684

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dragon49 View Post
    If there is no northeast snow or other adverse conditions, I'm also assuming that the first day of the trip should be relatively traffic and problem free.
    Assuming that there will be no traffic problems on I-95 between NY and Richmond is kind of a fools errand.

    I will guess that being that Jan 1 is on a Friday this year, so holiday traffic should be relatively low - plus the pandemic limiting travel - it probably is about the best case you could hope for. Still, it does not take much, like a single crash, to cause cascading problems and back ups.

    You're looking at about 1200 miles for this trip, which is the upper limit of what we recommend for a 2 day trip - and usually that would not include traveling through this hyper-busy corridor. Your 11 hour maximum is probably still close to a best case.

    I would again say the key will still be to stay flexible, and make sure you know where you want to go so you have an idea of all your options. For example, rather than staying on I-95 which will take you through Philadelphia, you'll be better off just sticking to the NJ Turnpike all the way to Delaware. Similarly, there are lots of alternative routes through and around Baltimore and DC, which may be better options, depending upon the traffic. Try to stay as alert and informed as you can - but do your best to look at those options before you leave, so you have some idea before you need the info.

  6. #6

    Default

    Friday, New Year's Day, shouldn't be too bad. There may be a lot of people on the highways during the weekend making holiday travel but the interstates in SC to FL shouldn't be too bad.

    You have one potential choke point, the stretch starting north of Baltimore and continuing to Fredericksburg, VA. The section you mentioned above, I-295, can be a good alternate route but the last couple of times I drove the Washington, D.C. segment, I decided to stick to either the eastern or western beltways around Washington, I-495, but the Eastern Beltway might be easier as the western segment in Virginia has a number of toll road options along with several confusing exits for heading into western VA. All things considered, a New Year's Day trip probably won't be too hard.

    I am headed south to FL from Maryland on Friday before Thanksgiving. I am choosing to go via I-81 to I-77 to Charlotte, NC and then I-26 towards Charleston and then I-95 south. I have several options in getting to I-81, including I-70 to Frederick and then some local roads over to I-81, or I-95 to I-66 to I-81. I will check traffic situation right before I leave. I-66 can be notoriously bad, so the first option will likely be my choice.

    From NY, I would likely drive I-78 to I-81 (not sure where in NY you are starting from).

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post

    You're looking at about 1200 miles for this trip, which is the upper limit of what we recommend for a 2 day trip - and usually that would not include traveling through this hyper-busy corridor. Your 11 hour maximum is probably still close to a best case.

    I would again say the key will still be to stay flexible, and make sure you know where you want to go so you have an idea of all your options .
    After some of last night’s replies, I had contemplated making this a 3 day trip, but am strongly leaning toward sticking to 2.

    Appreciate the advice regarding flexibility. I have enough sense (and apps to get me out of trouble should I need them) to get where I'm going. I also mainly don’t want to have to rely on a navigation app. They can be helpful, but cause problems. As an example, this past summer, I was returning to NYC from upstate NY which required crossing over the George Washington Bridge. I was planning on the normal route which directly connects the Palisades Parkway to the bridge, but then Waze found a quicker route which required me to exit early and drive around a town that I wasn’t familiar with to find an alternate bridge entrance. I followed the directions, but the time saved wasn’t worth the effort and aggravation. I started the thread as I’m looking for a balance between time-saving and convenience. I’m not sure where my exact cutoff point is, but for example if an app or predefined directions would only save 30 minutes for the first leg of the trip, but would require a number of more road changes than the lazy I-95 S all the way route, it wouldn’t be worth it to me. Thinking about my cutoff point as I compose. If alternate routes would save 90 minutes, it would certainly be worth my time, so my cutoff point is somewhere in between the two thresholds. I certainly don’t want to show up at the South Carolina hotel at 10:00 at night.

    Quote Originally Posted by landmariner View Post

    From NY, I would likely drive I-78 to I-81 (not sure where in NY you are starting from).
    I’m starting from the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Looks like 30-35 minutes (10 miles) south for me to get to I-78. The familiar route to I-95 S takes me over the George Washington Bridge, around 6.5 miles north of me, which can take around the same to get to, but should be reachable in 20 min or so when I’m leaving.
    Last edited by dragon49; 10-19-2020 at 11:21 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,009

    Default Reality and the "Heart of the Beast"

    Two things need to be established from the get go. First and foremost, you should NOT plan on spending your first night in South Carolina. Even if you lived in New York City, near an entrance to the Holland Tunnel, it would still be 600 miles to the North/South Carolina state line. You might be able to cover 600 miles a day in the wide-open west where there are relatively few tolls and hundreds of miles of 'nothing', but you are simply not going to be able to safely cover that distance on I-95, which has tolls and goes right through the heart of New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Richmond. Indeed, depending on where you're going in Florida, you should almost certainly add a third day for driving for any place south of roughly Port St. Lucie. I can also tell you from experience that I-95 is heavily patrolled, especially in the Carolinas.

    Secondly, as others have pointed out, sticking strictly to I-95 is not the best way to do this. just a few examples: In southern NJ, leaving the Turnpike and following I-95 will take you through the industrial waterfront of Philadelphia, whereas staying on the NJ Turnpike (marked as I-295 south of Trenton) will let you miss Philadelphia altogether, rejoining I-95 shortly after you cross into Delaware. In Baltimore I-95 again goes right through the center of downtown while taking I-895 and the Harbor Tunnel would again let you miss center city and directly rejoin I-95 on the other side. That is the nature of beltways and bypasses. One other note about I-895 and the Harbor Tunnel. As you approach the tunnel, there are only entrances to the highway. After you use the tunnel there are only exits from the highway. This cuts down immensely on the amount of traffic on I-895 as it is virtually useless as a local commuter road.

    On the other hand, there is a place where you DO want to use I-95 even though your mapping program is telling you to use MD-295, between Baltimore and Washington. MD-295, the Baltimore Washington Parkway, is not an Interstate quality road. It is a national scenic byway similar to the Merritt Parkway in southwestern Connecticut that you might be familiar with. Use I-95 instead and then just use the DC beltway (I-495) around Washington. Note that there is no I-95 through Washington, and there is essentially no significant difference between using I-495 around Washington either going clockwise (the Inner Beltway) or counterclockwise (the Outer Beltway). Both are roughly the same number of miles and rejoin I-95 south of Washington.

    There is also an Interstate bypass (I-295) that avoids the downtown areas of both Richmond and Petersburg. Personally, I would base my decision on whether to use I-95 or I-295 in that case on where the bulk of the traffic was headed when the two routes diverge north of Richmond, with a bias towards using I-295 down the east side of both cities.

    And again, don't just mindlessly follow some computer printout. Get a good atlas or set of paper maps and look at where those instructions are actually sending you. Know where you are, where you're going, and what your next decision point or road change will be. It's called Situational Awareness and is your responsibility as a driver.

    AZbuck

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    10,036

    Default

    I would strongly recommend you take part of a 3rd day! If the GWB is your best way out of the city, take it, then take I-80 to I-287 to get to I-78, then I-81/I-77/I-26 to I-95 as previously recommended. As a side benefit, your only toll is the I-78 bridge between NJ and PA, it's only a buck, and they accept EZ-Pass.

    For a 2.5 day drive, good overnights going this way would be Wytheville VA and St. Augustine.

  10. #10

    Default

    To add to AZBuck about 95 being heavily patrolled in the Carolinas, add Virginia to that especially around Emporia. Be aware - anything over 80 mph in Virginia is RECKLESS driving. The attorneys around Emporia are very good at sending out letters to those who get caught. There is no such thing as light traffic on 95 between Virginia/Maryland border to past Fredericksburg. Then itíll start thinning out. There is road construction on 95 south just before Fredericksburg which wonít be happening on the 1st or weekend but it still is there.

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