Dear Dr. Gridlock:
We read your article in the Post this Sunday about “Hitting The Road.” We go up to visit friends on Cape Cod in Dennis every year, and would like to know the best route to take from Rockville, Maryland.
We are retired and therefore are able to go any day of the week.
We would like to avoid Interstate 95 into New York, and usually have taken I-95 to the New Jersey Turnpike and then up the Garden State Parkway and across the Tappan Zee Bridge. We stop somewhere on the way overnight and then to the Cape the next day. We have stopped in the past in Mystic but would like to find another place to stop about half way to the Cape that is interesting overnight.
Is the route that you describe in your article the best route for us to take, up I-83 to Harrisburg, Pa., then I-76 to Allentown, Route 22 to Route 33 and then I-80 over to the Garden State Parkway to I-87 over to Connecticut?
Robert Galuppi, Rockville
DG: Travelers have a variety of reasons for picking routes. One is just habit. They go with what they know. That does eliminate some of the anxiety on a long distance, drive. It also adds to the monotony.
Others pick routes because they want to avoid known areas of congestion, or avoid heavy truck traffic, or avoid tolls, or to change the scenery.
Here’s my response to Galuppi’s question. Tell me what you’d advise in the comments section.
I drive to Cape Cod frequently — just wish I could do it at mid-week, as our letter writer plans. We do most of our traveling on weekends, so we try to leave very early. But that still puts us in somebody’s heavy traffic, usually around New York City. Western Connecticut can be very bad.
We usually take what I describe in my column as the “classic” route to New York: Interstate 95 to I-295, across the Delaware Memorial Bridge to the New Jersey Turnpike to northern New Jersey approaches to New York (about 227 miles).
We do that for two reasons: The Grid Spouse just hates it when I do a Dr. Gridlock experiment, and the alternative I suggest up through Pennsylvania adds miles. (She doesn’t care about the tolls.)
The northern alternative — which many drivers have suggested, and which I’ve tried — goes like this: I-95 to I-695, just before Baltimore, to I-83 to York and Harrisburg, Pa., then I-81 to I-78. Options include staying on I-78 across New Jersey toward New York City, or taking a more northerly course, following Route 22 just before Allentown, Pa., to Route 33 to I-80 across the top of New Jersey.
I think she’s okay with this alternative, which I also enjoy: Take Route 50 across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, to Route 301 to State Road 896 (Churchtown/Boyds Corner Road) to Route 1 and Route 13. From there, drivers can reach I-295 and the Delaware Memorial Bridge.
Approaching New York City, we’re listening to WCBS news radio (880 AM) for the traffic reports every 10 minutes, and the passenger checks the Google traffic map on a mobile device. If the George Washington Bridge looks like it’s in decent shape, we’ll take that, even though I hate the Cross Bronx Expressway on general principle. It usually saves us much time, compared to continuing north to the Tappan Zee Bridge into Westchester County and taking I-287 to I-95 and Connecticut.
Drivers who want to stay farther away from New York City could cross the Hudson River one Interstate bridge up from the Tappan Zee, at Newburgh (I-84). They could encounter Connecticut traffic around Danbury and Waterbury. If they’re Cape Cod bound, they’re still going to have to drop south at some point. They’re going to approach Cape Cod either on I-495 or I-195 if they’re aiming for the Bourne Bridge over the Cape Cod Canal, or on Route 3, if they’re target is the Sagamore Bridge.
From there, the most pleasant way to reach Dennis is along Route 6A, which passes through the old villages south of Cape Cod Bay. Route 6, the Mid-Cape Highway, is faster and duller.
How about a stopover besides Mystic, Conn., along the way?
I recommend Newport, R.I., south of I-95, or New Bedford,
R.I., Mass., to visit the whaling museum. Those aren’t half-way stops. Both are closer to the Cape than Mystic, but I think they’re worth a visit.
What’s your recommendation?