Driving the 'Least Tolls Possible' Way from MA to Florida. Anything to Know?

pershing

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 27, 2003
In January, we will be driving from Cape Cod to Fort Lauderdale for a cruise.

We've only driven twice and both times Route 95 all the way. Last time the tolls, like the $15 bridge tolls! And the city traffic really did me in!

This time I want to try the 'No Tolls Way' (495>mass pike>81>77>26>95)which somebody invariably replies that there are tolls in the beginning and in the end on mass pike and route 95 in Florida. When we all know these are minimal compared to the bridge tolls in New York and Delaware and the more than minimal tolls in between that add up to over $100 practically.

My question is is there anything I need to know about traveling this way? Besides the fact that it's longer and I know that. I mean speed traps hills etc. any information would help. Thanks! :-)
 

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Jarmo

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Aug 28, 2014
I'm familiar with 81 from NY through VA. Usually a pretty easy drive, though often construction in PA, especially the section through Scranton.
 

minnie mum

Unapologetic Disney Fan(atic)
Joined
Mar 8, 2011
We drive the 81/77/26/95 every time we go to Florida. Most is smooth sailing, if you can avoid rush hours in Charlotte and Columbia, and take the bypass around Jacksonville.

But there's one stretch of road on I 77 that I absolutely hate, and that's Fancy Gap Mountain near the VA/NC border. Ice can be a problem in the winter. And dense fog has taken many lives ( or rather, reckless drivers going too fast in dense fog ). Here's an article that talks about it:
http://obsweatherguy.blogspot.ca/2013/04/i-wrote-in-this-blog-about-two-years.html

It's only a short distance, but this area needs to be given all due care and attention when you drive it.
 

Woodview

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 29, 2013
I would just " Factor Into Your Costings " Toll Booth payments . You have already Paid a lot more for the Tickets

for the cruise + " Tips "
 

pershing

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 27, 2003
I'm familiar with 81 from NY through VA. Usually a pretty easy drive, though often construction in PA, especially the section through Scranton.
Scranton's about 6 hours away and we are leaving late afternoon and driving through so I hope it's not night construction! Thanks for the heads up!

Use the phone app Waze and it will most likely warn you about speed traps in real time.
I'm a big fan of waze as I live on Cape Cod and have to pick up my son on weekends! It's a marvel! An absolute must if you are doing WDW at Christmas!

We drive the 81/77/26/95 every time we go to Florida. Most is smooth sailing, if you can avoid rush hours in Charlotte and Columbia, and take the bypass around Jacksonville.

But there's one stretch of road on I 77 that I absolutely hate, and that's Fancy Gap Mountain near the VA/NC border. Ice can be a problem in the winter. And dense fog has taken many lives
( or rather, reckless drivers going too fast in dense fog ). Here's an article that talks about it:
http://obsweatherguy.blogspot.ca/2013/04/i-wrote-in-this-blog-about-two-years.html

It's only a short distance, but this area needs to be given all due care and attention when you drive it.
Thank you! Thank you! We are not speed demons but I feel better knowing this!


I would just " Factor Into Your Costings " Toll Booth payments . You have already Paid a lot more for the Tickets

for the cruise + " Tips "
It's not just the tolls. It's the condition of the roads on some parts of 95, hitting major potholes doing over 65 mph. There are crumbling roadways on 95 that make us look 3rd world. My nerves on the George Washington Bridge or that Delaware one! I may have grown up in Jersey but that big city driving capability is gone! It's the scenic route for me! :flower:More relaxing, less tense. I'm on vacation after all!
 

NotUrsula

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 19, 2002
Not necessarily for the OP, but on the subject of toll cost, always remember to factor in the added time and fuel that going a different route may cost, not to mention meals and lodging if the no-toll route is a whole lot longer. Sometimes the monetary expense nearly evens out. There are also other issues that influence choice of route, of course, and those have to go into the equation as well. (And remember that fog can happen at any time of year where it is common; often more so in summer than in winter; time of day is usually important in that respect.)

For us, Florida tolls tend to be more than worth the cost in terms of the time and distance they save; in other places, not always so much. (FWIW, Chicago-area tolls are also usually worth paying, IME. They almost always save an enormous amount of time that would otherwise be spent in traffic jams.)
 
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  • pershing

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 27, 2003
    Not necessarily for the OP, but on the subject of toll cost, always remember to factor in the added time and fuel that going a different route may cost, not to mention meals and lodging if the no-toll route is a whole lot longer. Sometimes the monetary expense nearly evens out. There are also other issues that influence choice of route, of course, and those have to go into the equation as well. (And remember that fog can happen at any time of year where it is common; often more so in summer than in winter; time of day is usually important in that respect.)

    For us, Florida tolls tend to be more than worth the cost in terms of the time and distance they save; in other places, not always so much. (FWIW, Chicago-area tolls are also usually worth paying, IME. They almost always save an enormous amount of time that would otherwise be spent in traffic jams.)
    I would absolutely say that if it is your first time driving from New England to Florida-take Route 95. Experiencing things like going thru cities and states can be a big eye opener and gives you a feeling on how long each state takes to travel through and the best places to stop and stuff. It's much easier to organize your trip if you take 95 and at the least will open your eyes as to the condition of our country's infrastructure lol.

    However, I have been there, done that, have a hybrid, and adult children (both in college) who have their licenses and I swore last time I added up the cost of all those tolls that I would try the no toll way I've been reading about on this board for years. This is a commonly used alternatives that takes about three hours longer (although there is a guy poster who will argue that it's the same with slow downs and construction on 95).

    Cape Cod is very rural- during most of the year besides summer when it becomes a giant parking lot of cars heading to the beaches.

    Last trip, my youngest wasn't driving then but my oldest was and on the way home I was napping in the Carolina's so I could drive thru the cities later and I woke up to my eldest gripping the stealing wheel completely surrounded by these huge huge trucks that we don't see in our neck of the woods and he was freaked out! He was so relieved when I offered to take over!

    Needless to say both DS's are 'down' with taking 'the back way' this time!
     
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    The Prophet

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 21, 2004
    It is possible to take I 95 and bypass all but 1 of the tolls. I live in NY and when I drive, I only pay 1 toll -- crossing the Outerbridge from NJ into NY

    There are no tolls south of Baltimore. Let me know if you want the details
     

    OKW Lover

    Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle.
    DIS Lifetime Sponsor
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    Apr 29, 2004
    You can avoid the Mass Pike tolls by going I-195 to Providence and then catching I-95 there. Once on I-95 approaching NYC area, find your way to the Tappanzee bridge and then over 287 to 78 to 81.
     

    FigmentFinder

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 5, 2008
    You can avoid the Mass Pike tolls by going I-195 to Providence and then catching I-95 there. Once on I-95 approaching NYC area, find your way to the Tappanzee bridge and then over 287 to 78 to 81.
    I'd pay anything to avoid the Tappanzee bridge. :scared1::scared1:
     
  • pershing

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 27, 2003
    I'd pay anything to avoid the Tappanzee bridge. :scared1::scared1:
    Really?? That used to be the 'friendly, happy' New York' bridge! I'm actually from the first exit after it in Jersey. That was decades ago now.....

    ... But I'd pay to avoid route 95 in Connecticut! Lots and lots of night time construction...in January!!! No less.

    Mass pike is like 5 bucks from Worcester to the end and that part of MA is really beautiful lush with trees mountains valleys streams.
    It is possible to take I 95 and bypass all but 1 of the tolls. I live in NY and when I drive, I only pay 1 toll -- crossing the Outerbridge from NJ into NY

    There are no tolls south of Baltimore. Let me know if you want the details
    Curious about how you accomplish this. Especially Delaware, do you bypass it altogether?
     

    PlutoPony

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 5, 2004
    Cannot emphasize enough that you need to watch the weather when going this route. I-81 runs through the spine of the Appalachians. It's hilly and has a significant amount of truck traffic. Add snow/ice to the mix and it can be a very difficult drive in iffy weather. When trucks have trouble getting up the hills with a little bit of snow it turns to a traffic nightmare in a hurry. They do a decent job plowing and recover quickly but you don't want to be on the road during a snow event.
     

    FigmentFinder

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 5, 2008
    Really?? That used to be the 'friendly, happy' New York' bridge! I'm actually from the first exit after it in Jersey. That was decades ago now.....
    It's the length of the bridge. For some reason it makes me feel panicky about 2/3 of the way through. I keep thinking "would I survive if I had to jump off it". :crazy2: Fortunately most of my travels in that direction stops just before the bridge at the lovely sinking Palisades Mall.


    There's a way to bypass the Delaware Memorial bridge? lol
     

    The Prophet

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 21, 2004
    Really?? That used to be the 'friendly, happy' New York' bridge! I'm actually from the first exit after it in Jersey. That was decades ago now.....

    ... But I'd pay to avoid route 95 in Connecticut! Lots and lots of night time construction...in January!!! No less.

    Mass pike is like 5 bucks from Worcester to the end and that part of MA is really beautiful lush with trees mountains valleys streams.


    Curious about how you accomplish this. Especially Delaware, do you bypass it altogether?
    Are you referring to the toll on the DE/MD border?
     

    richmo

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2007
    I'd be inclined to not get obsessive about paying tolls. And if you don't have an EZPass, get one. It won't work in Florida (yet), but will save you time points north.

    Consider the amount you're spending on the cruise, plus gas. Tolls are a tiny, tiny portion of that and you may well spend part of that in gas going longer routes.

    I totally agree with the advice of using the Waze app and let it guide you.

    A few, more specific thoughts:
    - On going to and from the Boston area on occasional holiday weekends from Philly...going south, I like to take the Mass Pike out to I-84, then I-91 to the Merritt Pkwy (15) and following the Merritt all the way to the Tappan Zee then take 287 thru NJ, back to either 95 or the NJ Turnpike. Going north is similar, but I usually take 95 north to 395, since going north in Hartford is sometimes a mess.
    - If you can, avoid the Washington area around rush hour, especially south of Washington on I-95.
     

    pershing

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 27, 2003
    I'd be inclined to not get obsessive about paying tolls. And if you don't have an EZPass, get one. It won't work in Florida (yet), but will save you time points north.

    Consider the amount you're spending on the cruise, plus gas. Tolls are a tiny, tiny portion of that and you may well spend part of that in gas going longer routes.

    I totally agree with the advice of using the Waze app and let it guide you.

    A few, more specific thoughts:
    - On going to and from the Boston area on occasional holiday weekends from Philly...going south, I like to take the Mass Pike out to I-84, then I-91 to the Merritt Pkwy (15) and following the Merritt all the way to the Tappan Zee then take 287 thru NJ, back to either 95 or the NJ Turnpike. Going north is similar, but I usually take 95 north to 395, since going north in Hartford is sometimes a mess.
    - If you can, avoid the Washington area around rush hour, especially south of Washington on I-95.
    We actually took the Merrit Parkway when we were traveling back-and-forth from Cape Cod and New Jersey growing up. That was when Connecticut had tolls and Merrick Park Way was a beautiful alternative.

    However I'm inclined to disagree on one thing – I spend more on tolls than I do on gas driving to Florida and back. Again… Hybrid! And my favorite delivery guy at work who was the one who told me about the Waze app also told me fill up my gas tank in New Jersey and then eek out as much miles as I can until I hit South Carolina fill up there and then top off before you hit Florida. I can make it from New Jersey to South Carolina with my hybrid. When I've given my friends this advice if they don't have a hybrid they can't do it.

    And for the record, I haven't spent that much on this cruise it's a RC cruise which I got at a very low level for a Fourth of July sale Buy monitoring crew sales on cruise sheet website and then used a RC gift card that I bought on the raise web site for 2/3's off with another 10% off website July 4th sale. And It basically turns out to be about $55 a day for the independence of the seas -their third largest ship! Yay. Just had to crow ... But yeah cheapskate party of one! Or rather single mother with two in college!

    Anyway yeah I do reiterate and do support the idea that anyone new to this Florida trip business should take the straightest way first. We are driving 25 hours straight through with three licensed drivers and no kids in the car so this could be listed under advanced road trip for sure.
     

    The Prophet

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 21, 2004
    I did the calculations from NY taking the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the round-trip tolls come out to almost $70.00.
    That is about a tank and a half of gas for me and I can bypass all but the Goethals / Outerbridge crossings.

    This assumes peak travel times in a car
     

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