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View Full Version : Driving from Maine: Advice Please


baileybelle
09-20-2005, 12:13 PM
My DH and I are driving from Maine in mid-October. We are leaving between 3 and 4 am on a Monday. We are trying to decide on two routes. We did 84-81-66-17-95 last year and hit a lot of traffic from Fredrickburg, Va to the NC border.

This year we are deciding between 81-64-288-95 and 81-77-26-95. Is 288 around Richmond, VA completed? How is the traffic around Charlotte, NC?

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.

Obi-Wan Pinobi
09-20-2005, 12:30 PM
Yes, Route 288 around Richmond is complete. It's also a limited access highway like an interstate, which I don't believe US 17 is, so there's that advantage of no traffic signals. 81-64-288-95 is definitely doable.

Traffic might be heavier on 288 during the typical morning and evening rush hours. A lot of residents south of the river commute to office north of the river, and this new crossing is popular. Even so, the traffic moves at a steady rate the times I've been on it when heavy.

Let me know if you need more info about that stretch of highway.

baileybelle
09-20-2005, 12:39 PM
Thanks Matt, that's exactly what I wanted to know.

Can anyone tell me which way would be faster and with less traffic?

baileybelle
09-20-2005, 07:35 PM
Does anyone know?

PortieOwner
09-21-2005, 12:56 PM
What time of the day will you hit DC and Fredericksburg? That stretch is not always terrible--depends upon the day and time of day. I am not completely sure I'd divert over to I-81 because of congestion around DC and Fredericksburg.

As an alternative look at Route 301 which is east of DC and parallels I-95.

GunLvr

Obi-Wan Pinobi
09-21-2005, 01:54 PM
Many people that drive, especially those in New England, will opt for the I-81 alternative because they want to avoid not only DC and Baltimore but also Philadelpha and NYC/NJ traffic. I've driven in all those areas at one time or another and I can understand the desire to avoid all those areas on the same trip.

PortieOwner's suggestion of Route 301 is a good one. I drove that route up to Baltimore for a job interview a few weeks ago. There are several traffic lights but the traffic moves at a steady pace and definitely no road construction. There is a $3.00 toll as you cross the bridge from MD to VA, but that would be the last toll you would have. You'll intersect with I-95 north of Richmond, and then take I-295 around Richmond and Petersburg.

Susiesnowflake
09-21-2005, 02:37 PM
Sorry, BaileyBelle, can't help you because we've never driven down yet. Always fly. I was curious about your username since you live in southern Maine. Are you from Bailey's Island? We are real close to you if you are!

baileybelle
09-21-2005, 07:57 PM
PortieOwner: We would probably hit NY right around morning rush hour on a Monday and DC around evening rush hour, which is why we always use 81. We are leaving Southen Maine between 3-4am. Most of the "snowbirds" from this area have highly recommended the 84-81-77-26 route to me. Where would we pick up 301?

Susiesnowflake: My cocker spaniel is named baileybelle. I'm from Biddeford, Maine.

Robert P
09-22-2005, 07:56 AM
I'll try to help with the Charlotte question.

77 has been widened as you approach Charlotte, and now runs the last several miles into and through the city as 3 lanes across plus a 4th HOV (carpool) dedicated lane. The HOV ends @ mile marker 10, after you are well past the I-85 interchange (mm 13). I drive 77 at lease 3 times a month, and have not been delayed in traffic between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. for more than 5 minutes, since the widening.
That being said, Charlotte traffic is bad during morning rush (7-9 a.m.), and gets heavy in afternoon rush (4-6 p.m.) Other than those times, it's usually do-able.

Side note:
Anyone heading down 77, looking for a place to stay the night, should seriously consider going on past Charlotte into SC. That eliminates having to go through traffic the next morning, and the gas prices in SC are noticeably lower. From the NC/SC line to WDW is @ 570 miles, in case you are trying to break up your trip into segments.

Obi-Wan Pinobi
09-22-2005, 11:28 AM
Where would we pick up 301?

From looking at a map, you could take either I-95 to I-895 through the Harbor Tunnel (toll) or follow I-695 across the Key Bridge (also toll), then follow signs for I-97 south. The Harbor Tunnel option looks shorter mileage-wise. Then take Route 3 south and that will run you right into US 301.

PortieOwner
09-22-2005, 01:57 PM
PortieOwner: We would probably hit NY right around morning rush hour on a Monday and DC around evening rush hour, which is why we always use 81. We are leaving Southen Maine between 3-4am. Most of the "snowbirds" from this area have highly recommended the 84-81-77-26 route to me. Where would we pick up 301?

Susiesnowflake: My cocker spaniel is named baileybelle. I'm from Biddeford, Maine.

Nice choice in dogs. On second thought, why not take I-81 one way and see how you like it?

I know that I-81 has become more popular with truckers and vacationers but I-81 adds a lot of miles onto the trip. For me, leaving from just north of DC, I'd do I-95 in a 13-14 hour drive beginning here at around 530AM (and doing a lot of the drive in the reverse of most of the commuter traffic). Also you want to avoid the Wilson Bridge these days. Jacksonville, FL evening rush hour traffic can also be an issue. Is there any chance you can leave Maine at 8PM at night and drive overnight? You would miss the bad Boston, NYC, and DC traffic and could also use the nice direct I-95 route?

I have to say I don't envy your drive. I have done DC to Calais, ME a couple of times and after a 17 hour day on I-95 I am wishing the whole Northeast would just disappear. I'm not even sure the F'burg-Richmond segment is your biggest worry--Boston and New Jersey are also pretty awful.

Portie

baileybelle
09-22-2005, 06:32 PM
We drove down last year and we really enjoyed it. I love taking 84 out of Mass to 81 in Pa then south. The scenery and the fall colors are breathtaking which is why we prefer to drive in the daytime. I still haven't made my final decision between 81-64-288-95 or 81-77-26-95. Maybe I'll use both, one south, the other one going north.

Thank you everyone for all your input.

bigsis1970
11-09-2005, 08:54 AM
Hi are you back yet - I am also from Southern Maine and am thinking I might just drive next summer with my kids so I am looking to see how it went and which routes you took and what time you left - ya know all the good stuff. Thanks for any advise. Michelle

baileybelle
11-09-2005, 07:06 PM
Yes I'm back. We drove down on October 17th. We left at 1am and took the following route 95-495-290-90-84-81-77-26-95-295(around Jacksonville)-95-4. We drove all the way to Rock Hill, SC right outside of Charlotte, NC on 77. We drove about 17 hours the first day. We left around 5:30am the second day and arrived at Shades of Green resort at 1:30pm, about 8 hours the second day. It took us 25 hours including bathroom breaks, fast food stops, and stretching.

On the way home we changed the route. We left around 5:30am and stopped around 6:30pm,about 13 hours. We got to Penn. on 81. The second day we started at 5:30am and got home around 3pm, about 9.5 hours, for a total of 22.5 hours. We went 4-95-295(around Jacksonville)-95-295(around Richmond,VA)-17-66-81-84-90-290-495-95.

The 77-26 route is very mountainous and Charlotte was a nightmare. I really prefer the 81-66-17-95 route. It took us 2.5 hours longer using the 77-26 route.

The next time we go we are definitely flying!!! We were exhausted when we got to WDW. Thank God our room was ready. The ride to WDW was really long, boring, and tedious and the ride home was worse. If you have any other questions feel free to ask.

bigsis1970
11-10-2005, 07:54 AM
Hi Thanks for your honesty about the longness of a drive - I once did the bottom border of Kentucky to Orlando - 13-14 straight through and it was LONG and boring too.. I am hoping for some decent airfare .. Michelle

mainewmn
11-10-2005, 08:32 AM
Cant help but I wanted to say hello to fellow Mainers! :wave2:

snowbunny
11-10-2005, 11:09 AM
The ride to WDW was really long, boring, and tedious and the ride home was worse.

Yup. Just the thought of driving as far as Washington DC is horrendous, and that's only halfway :sad2:

Mainebound
11-11-2005, 11:21 AM
Cant help but I wanted to say hello to fellow Mainers! :wave2:


me too!! :cool1: :cool1: :Pinkbounc :banana: