Getaway: traveling west of Washington
There was a holiday direction I didn't account for in my Commuter page feature on getaway routes: What if you're heading west through Maryland and Pennsylvania?
The issue came up Monday during my weekly online discussion.
Washington, D.C.: Over Thanksgiving and again at Christmas, we will be traveling from Richmond, Va. to Breezewood, Penn. (at least this is where we get on the Pa Turnpike ) ... what is our best route? I-95 south of the Beltway always seems to be a parking lot.
My first thought was that a driver from Richmond might get onto Route 17 at Fredericksburg and then do one of a couple of things: Take 17 to I-66 to I-81 to I-70 to Breezewood and the Pennsylvania Pike junction, or take 17 to Route 15 to I-70 to Breezewood (and avoid I-81).
But then another traveler asked another version of the western trip question.
Gaithersburg, Md.: Driving to Buffalo, N.Y. Usually take 270, 70 to Breezewood and then 70/76 (Penna Turnpike). 270 and 70 are usually crowded and slow. Any way of bypassing them and getting straight on to Penna Turnpike?
Breezewood is a notorious collection of gas stations and fast food restaurants that exists because there is no interchange at the junction of I-70 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76).
I asked travelers how they get around that bottleneck and noted that I already had a couple of good comments from here on the blog:
"You could take I-68 west from Hancock and then use either US-220 north (meets the Turnpike at Bedford, one exit west of Breezewood) or US-219 north (takes you to Somerset via a somewhat longer drive than the US-220 route). Or you could stay on I-68 to where it ends at I-79 in West Virginia, then go north on I-79. That's a considerably longer drive distance-wise, though (but it may have less traffic and it's toll-free)." That was from 1995hoo.
"I've done I-68 from Hancock to Morgantown, I-79 to Washington PA, and then I-70 west to Columbus on several occasions. Its longer, but not that much longer, and certainly a more pleasant drive than the Turnpike." That was from thetan.
These related comment came in during the chat, but I didn't have a chance to publish it till now.
Fairfax, Va.: Re avoiding Breezewood. You can go north on 270 to US 15, and get the PA Tpike at Camp Hill. Not sure how many mies that adds, but Route 15 (through Emmittsville, Gettysburg, etc.) is usually pretty laid back. 270 is the kicker on this route!
Washington, D.C.: re the questioner trying to get to Buffalo:
Having driven from DC to Buffalo not a few times, my suggestion would be to go I-270 to US-15 at Frederick and stick on it all the way through Pennsylvania, and turns into NY-15/I-86 around Corning. Then at the I-86/I-390 split, go on 390 to the Thruway. 15 is mostly divided highway and should be a fast drive.
Driving to Buffalo: The easiest way to Buffalo--been making the trip frequently for more than 25 years--is to take I-99 through Altoona & then swing NW through Philipsburg, Ridgeway, Bradford, & on north. Some truck traffic weekdays but generally not bad.
[We'll deal with more getaway issues later today and on Wednesday.]
November 24, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
Categories: Getaway , holiday travel | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Thanksgiving, travel tips
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