Best route thru DC on I95

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leehsm
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Best route thru DC on I95

Post by leehsm » Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:04 pm

Looking for the best route thru DC heading north on I 95 from Richmond Va to Philly. During July 4 week. Last trip we followed GPS and it took us thru the busy DC TRAFFIC. Appreciate any hints on best route. Lee

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Aptenodytes
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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by Aptenodytes » Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:32 pm

Depends on local traffic conditions. Use Waze to guide you.

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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by Aptenodytes » Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:37 pm

Aptenodytes wrote:Depends on local traffic conditions. Use Waze to guide you.
If you don't want to use Waze but prefer to play the odds, then cross the Potomac in Alexandria and take 295 up toward Baltimore. Or just ask Google Maps for directions, print them out, and ignore you car navigator.

Waze has improved its algorithm since I first used it and I now use it when there's the slightest chance of something weird going on. It has gotten me through potentially big messes quite artfully.

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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by Incognito » Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:41 pm

From I-95, take I-495 towards Tyson's corner and join back 27 miles later. Traffic on that side of the beltway is a little lighter during holiday weekends as many travelers follow I-95 sign and use the other side of the beltway. Alternatively, if you're game for a relaxing drive, then get off of I-95 even before Fredricksburg and take exit 104 and follow Rte 301 all the way to I-97 and then I-697. 301 is 55mph speed limit most of the way except at a couple towns (La Plata and Bowie) and that's only for a brief stretch. This will put you well north of Baltimore on I-95.

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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by SamB » Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:47 pm

Incognito wrote:From I-95, take I-495 towards Tyson's corner and join back 27 miles later. Traffic on that side of the beltway is a little lighter during holiday weekends as many travelers follow I-95 sign and use the other side of the beltway. Alternatively, if you're game for a relaxing drive, then get off of I-95 even before Fredricksburg and take exit 104 and follow Rte 301 all the way to I-97 and then I-697. 301 is 55mph speed limit most of the way except at a couple towns (La Plata and Bowie) and that's only for a brief stretch. This will put you well north of Baltimore on I-95.
301 is the way to go. DC/I-495 is completely unpredictable.

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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by ddoubleu » Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:01 pm

I live a mile from the Capital Beltway and commute into DC. Use this site to see what the traffic conditions are like when you're getting close: http://www.sigalert.com/Map.asp?region=Washington+DC

Assuming driving conditions are good throughout the area, these are the routes to take in order of preference:

1. I-95 towards Baltimore, take I-295 N after crossing the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Be careful of the cop/unmarked car at the weigh station, they have speed cameras inside.
2. I-95 all the way around DC through Prince George's County towards Baltimore.
3. I-95 to I-495 towards Tyson's Corner, then towards Baltimore.

Also tune into WTOP 103.5 FM for traffic updates every 10 minutes on the 8s.

I should also mention that if you don't have an EZ Pass, you will encounter very long lines at the toll booths, which can add significant time to your drive.
Last edited by ddoubleu on Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by Dan999 » Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:03 pm

Also note that I495 around Wilmington Delaware is closed until at least Labor Day.
So you will have to stay on I95 thru Wilmington. I would avoid it at rush hour.
'Dan

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baw703916
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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by baw703916 » Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:23 pm

As you are approaching DC, tune the radio to 103.5 (news station with traffic updates every 10 minutes--pretty much necessary around here!). That may tell you which way to go (495, 295, or 95) depending on delays.
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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by Lars_2013 » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:00 pm

SamB wrote:
Incognito wrote:From I-95, take I-495 towards Tyson's corner and join back 27 miles later. Traffic on that side of the beltway is a little lighter during holiday weekends as many travelers follow I-95 sign and use the other side of the beltway. Alternatively, if you're game for a relaxing drive, then get off of I-95 even before Fredricksburg and take exit 104 and follow Rte 301 all the way to I-97 and then I-697. 301 is 55mph speed limit most of the way except at a couple towns (La Plata and Bowie) and that's only for a brief stretch. This will put you well north of Baltimore on I-95.
301 is the way to go. DC/I-495 is completely unpredictable.
+1

I do this drive frequently and at high traffic times you save yourself a lot of stress by avoiding the whole DC area.

But I'd do 301 to I-97 to I-895 north to I-95 north, rather than using the baltimore beltway (I-695). Also, if there's heavy traffic in the Baltimore area (or in northern Maryland), you can stay on 301, cross the bay bridge, and rejoin I-95 in Deleware. But that's generally pretty slow.

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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by Mel Lindauer » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:10 pm

I always dread the DC area on I-95. I've learned to ignore my GPS. I've never found a route that's consistently better, but I usually have better luck with 495. I try to get through on weekends if at all possible. Otherwise if it's a weekday, I try to go through sometime between noon and 1:30 pm.

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alec
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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by alec » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:19 pm

To what part of Philly are you going? I'd definitely recommend the 301 route instead of 95. also, if possible go really early in the morning or really late at night.

I live b/w Annapolis and Baltimore off Rt 3/301 and make the trip up to see my parents in Drexel Hill (right outside Philly) every month or so. We generally go 3 North -> 97 North -> 695 east -> 95. Then get off of 95 at Rt 22 in MD, take that to 136, to Route 1 North, and go over the Conowingo Dam. This avoids the massive tolls and traffic b/w Balto and Philly on 95. Plus, my kids love going over the Dam, through farmland, and over all the hills. Definitely longer by mileage, but traffice on 95 around holidays can be horrendous.

When I go to visit my brother in Allentown, PA, I take 695 east to 83 North up to Harrisburg, then 78 east/north to 22 east. Again, avoids that traffic/tolls on 1-95 and NE extension on PA turnpike. If you're going north of Philly, this way might be less traffic-ee.

btw - no matter what time I go north, going east on 695 around the Balto beltway rarely has any traffic, even less than 895. Of course, that way has a small toll for the bridge, while going west around 695 has no toll, but goes through all the more densely packed Balto suburbs. Hence more traffic.

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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by grabiner » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:34 pm

alec wrote:btw - no matter what time I go north, going east on 695 around the Balto beltway rarely has any traffic, even less than 895.
It's rarely worth it unless traffic reports tell you that the tunnels are jammed, because it adds more than ten miles to the trip.
Of course, that way has a small toll for the bridge, while going west around 695 has no toll, but goes through all the more densely packed Balto suburbs. Hence more traffic.
I would never go that way to avoid the toll; it's even longer as well as slower. (I do go that way frequently when headed from I-95 north of the city to I-70.)
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grabiner
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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by grabiner » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:40 pm

alec wrote:When I go to visit my brother in Allentown, PA, I take 695 east to 83 North up to Harrisburg, then 78 east/north to 22 east. Again, avoids that traffic/tolls on 1-95 and NE extension on PA turnpike. If you're going north of Philly, this way might be less traffic-ee.
A better route (except if you hit Reading at rush hour) is I-83 to Market Street in York, go straight at the exit (signed "To US-30"), right onto US-30 to Lancaster, US-222 through Reading to Allentown (or for US-22, get off US-222 at PA-737 in Kutztown, four miles north to I-78). I go from Maryland to NJ frequently, and take this route on holiday weekends to avoid the turnpike traffic.
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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by JohnnyB » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:55 pm

+1 using 301 to avoid DC.

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alec
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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by alec » Thu Jun 26, 2014 8:06 pm

grabiner wrote:
alec wrote:When I go to visit my brother in Allentown, PA, I take 695 east to 83 North up to Harrisburg, then 78 east/north to 22 east. Again, avoids that traffic/tolls on 1-95 and NE extension on PA turnpike. If you're going north of Philly, this way might be less traffic-ee.
A better route (except if you hit Reading at rush hour) is I-83 to Market Street in York, go straight at the exit (signed "To US-30"), right onto US-30 to Lancaster, US-222 through Reading to Allentown (or for US-22, get off US-222 at PA-737 in Kutztown, four miles north to I-78). I go from Maryland to NJ frequently, and take this route on holiday weekends to avoid the turnpike traffic.
Which is almost exactly the way that Google maps just told me to go. :oops:
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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by Kosmo » Thu Jun 26, 2014 9:14 pm

JohnnyB wrote:+1 using 301 to avoid DC.
+2. I drive the Philly to Annapolis portion of 301 frequently and have never run into traffic except at the bay bridge approach going north. Otherwise, very predictable. I can't say about driving 301 all the way from Richmond. Might it be quicker to take 95/395/295 into DC and then 50 to Annapolis? You'd get some DC traffic but miss Baltimore.

And someone mentioned 495 in Wilmington is closed, so you'll have to stay on 95 through down town.

My lessons learned from driving up and down the middle east coast for the last 14 years:
1) DC is always unpredictable
2) If you have to hit DC, Baltimore, Philly, or NYC...get through between 10-2pm or wait until after 7pm.

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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by hornet96 » Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:27 pm

If you are starting from Richmond on the actual 4th of July, you should probably leave in the middle of the night (like 4AM). I used to work with a partner from our Richmond office who would do that even on "regular" days, as the traffic on 95 from Richmond to DC is usually unbearable in and of itself (every day of the year). And he would sometimes still be late for meetings that started at 8:30 AM.

I will personally be parking my car for 3 days or so, and probably ride my bike up the Mount Vernon trail to watch the fireworks. My wife and I usually try to escape DC during the 4th, but we got trapped here this year.

Best of luck to you! :beer

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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by dm200 » Thu Jun 26, 2014 11:32 pm

I live in Northern Virginia, inside the "Beltway" - and traffic in the DC area is horrendous a great part of the time.

Other posts have given the 3 choices when you come up I95 -

1. Follow "I95" signs around the "Beltway" towards Alexandria, over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge
2. Take "I395" through the middle of Washington DC
3. Follow "I495" signs around the Beltway, over the American legion bridge, and back to I95 towards Baltimore.

Depending on the time you hit the area and on what day that week, any or all could be a mess. I would avoid #2, being unfamiliar with the details. In addition, it is easy to miss a turn and end up who knows where.

So, that leaves #1 or #3 - I would listen to 103.5 FM - WTOP for traffic reports, alternating with 91.1 FM - WNEW. The two stations have traffic reports frequently, but at slightly different times all the time. My "seat of the pants" guess is that #3 might be "better" (or less of a mess), but is is probably a crapshoot. #1 is a much wider bridge over the Potomac River - but sometimes still backs up a long way.

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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by jebmke » Fri Jun 27, 2014 7:15 am

Kosmo wrote: I drive the Philly to Annapolis portion of 301 frequently and have never run into traffic except at the bay bridge approach going north. Otherwise, very predictable. I can't say about driving 301 all the way from Richmond.
Summer Friday-Monday and holidays is no time to be on the Bay Bridge.

This time of year I'd take 301 to 97.

Actually, the train would be an alternative before I'd consider flying.
Last edited by jebmke on Fri Jun 27, 2014 9:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by pshonore » Fri Jun 27, 2014 8:30 am

I made that trip on a Sunday a few weeks ago starting in Arlington, VA. From Rt 50 to I 295 North to I 695 to DC 295 (a/k/a the Baltimore/Washington Parkway, not to be confused with I 295), to I 895 and the Harbor Tunnel to 95 North. A few slowdowns but traffic was moving until the split for the Delaware Memorial Bridge where there was a 30 minute backup for no apparent reason since there is no toll going North. Oddly, there was no backup for 95/495 going to Wilmington although there may have been one further up the road. The tolls are getting rather pricey. About $50 round trip from CT to Arlington and back (even skipping 1/2 the New Jersey Tpk.)

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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by Kosmo » Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:35 am

jebmke wrote:
Kosmo wrote: I drive the Philly to Annapolis portion of 301 frequently and have never run into traffic except at the bay bridge approach going north. Otherwise, very predictable. I can't say about driving 301 all the way from Richmond.
Summer Friday-Monday and holidays is no time to be on the Bay Bridge.

This time of year I'd take 301 to 97.
Oh yeah, beach traffic. Hadn't considered that. If I'm driving that route on the weekend, it's usually not until Sunday night. 301 to 97 to 695 would bypass DC and Baltimore.

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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by DRT » Fri Jun 27, 2014 7:51 pm

You can exit from I-95 directly onto US-301, but it's typically better to exit onto VA-207. 207 will take you to 301 after bypassing the two lane portion of 301. 301 to I-97 isn't always the fastest route, but it's a far more predictable route and a generally more pleasant one. There are a few more little towns along the way where the speed limit is below 55 than others have mentioned. And, there are a few spots that can get pretty congested, particularly the stretch through La Plata, Waldorf, and Brandywine in Southern Maryland, but compared with 95 between Richmond and DC and with the beltway, this route is leisurely.

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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by Lars_2013 » Fri Jun 27, 2014 8:21 pm

DRT wrote:You can exit from I-95 directly onto US-301, but it's typically better to exit onto VA-207. 207 will take you to 301 after bypassing the two lane portion of 301. 301 to I-97 isn't always the fastest route, but it's a far more predictable route and a generally more pleasant one. There are a few more little towns along the way where the speed limit is below 55 than others have mentioned. And, there are a few spots that can get pretty congested, particularly the stretch through La Plata, Waldorf, and Brandywine in Southern Maryland, but compared with 95 between Richmond and DC and with the beltway, this route is leisurely.
Yes, I had forgotten to mention this. The best way onto 301 from the south (Richmond) is usually exit 104, VA-207, toward Bowling Green. There's also cheap gas at this exit. Getting from 207 onto 301 is a little confusing, but just look for 301 north bypass rather than 301 business (and if you take the wrong one it's not a disaster--yuo just go through the town of bowling green before rejoining the rest of 301).

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Re: Best route thru DC on I95

Post by porcupine » Fri Jun 27, 2014 8:26 pm

leehsm wrote:Looking for the best route thru DC heading north on I 95 from Richmond Va to Philly. During July 4 week. Last trip we followed GPS and it took us thru the busy DC TRAFFIC. Appreciate any hints on best route. Lee
I find it somewhat strange that you are not planning for alternatives to I-90 from Richmond to the NoVa area. Last year, on an August weekend, returning from NJ to FL, I got stuck in major traffic right after leaving the 495 beltway to get on I-95 southbound. It took me nearly four hours to cover a distance of less than 100 miles. Never again am I driving that stretch during the daytime. It appeared that half of VA was headed to the beaches, either at VA Beach, or elsewhere! :oops:

I would've assumed that the northbound traffic would encounter similar bottlenecks, if not worse!!

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