Getaway routes: avoiding Delaware's toll
[Join me for our weekly discussion of traffic and transit at noon. We can talk about the Thanksgiving getaway or any other transportation topic that's on your mind. Use this link if you'd like to submit a question or comment in advance.]
Travelers have sent in some additional suggestions on how to avoid various problems typically encountered in the holiday getaway traffic. On the Commuter page in the Sunday Post, I offered my some alternative routes you could try this week. but here are a couple more.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I enjoyed your holiday travel column, but I think that there's a better alternative than the 2nd choice you offer for avoiding the Delaware toll. Most of my extended family lives in lower Bucks County, Pa., which is just north of the city of Philadelphia on I-95. Here's how I get there from the Washington area. I live in Arlington.
1) We take 395 into the District until its terminus at Pennsylvania Avenue, then cross the Anacostia to go north on 295. At the intersection with Route 50, we take Route 50 east.
1a) You can also take the Beltway to Route 50 east towards Annapolis.
2) Stay on 50 across the Bay Bridge (pay a one-way $2.50 toll.) Route 50 will split with Route 301 in Queenstown, where you will take 301 north.
3) Stay on Route 301 for the next 60 miles or so. You will roll through the beautiful Eastern Shore countryside at slightly-less than Interstate speeds all the way to the Delaware state line. There's only one rest stop in Maryland, but plenty of restaurants and gas stations in Middletown soon after crossing into Delaware. In Delaware, the highway narrows to two lanes (and is under construction, but with no delays), but you can take it all the way to I-95 immediately past the toll booth. I believe the highway number changes to State Highway 896 at some point, but just stay on the road to 95.
4) I actually prefer to avoid 95 altogether in Delaware for the frequent bad traffic regardless of the toll. While still on 301/896, I turn right onto Route 40 North (just past the Chesapeake-Delaware Bay Canal.). Route 40 merges with Route 13 south of Wilmington near the New Castle County Airport. You can also take 896 east from where it joins 301 to Route 13/Delaware Highway 1, but that's more complicated.
The benefits of this route are that it's much less taxing on the mind, and avoids nearly all of the tolls. If you're continuing to New York/New Jersey, you can turn from 40/13 onto the Delaware Memorial Bridge. If you're continuing to Philadelphia, you can turn from 13 onto 495 two miles after that. Total added time per trip is approximately 30 minutes -- easily beaten if traffic on 95 is at a standstill at any point.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Since our daughter went to the University of Delaware in Newark, we have always avoided the toll plaza by getting off I-95 at exit 109 in Maryland toward Newark.
You suggest taking the first right onto Iron Hill Road. The problem we found when we tried that (you have suggested this before so we thought we would try it) is that Iron Hill Road is not the first right. When we did find it, we found it to be much slower than our way (we timed it and then went our usual way on our return trip). The road was a local country road and twisty.
What we suggest is just going a little further up Route 2 and turn right onto East Chestnut Hill Road. On the left is a big shopping center with Home Depot and Acme supermarket. East Chestnut Hill Roa is a large two-lane road. It takes you directly to South College Avenue (directly across from the University of Delaware stadium) where you turn right and then get back onto I-95.
When heading south, you turn left onto East Chestnut Hill Road. You know you are there when you see the stadium and then you turn left onto Route 2 when you the street ends and you see the shopping center in front of you.
Richard and Meryl Bresnick
November 23, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
Categories: Getaway , holiday travel | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, I-95, avoiding Delaware
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