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The Drive to Elon from the Northeast

Scoutmom9Scoutmom9 350 replies94 threads Member
edited August 2010 in Elon University
We will be coming from NJ. Last time we took the 95 ( passing Baltimore, Washington and Richmond and all the traffic that incurs. This time we are thinking of doing what googlemaps suggests which is 78 to 81 S to 29 S.

Any northerners with driving this route want to comment? We are going down for early and will be leaving on a tuesday.
edited August 2010
19 replies
Post edited by Scoutmom9 on
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Replies to: The Drive to Elon from the Northeast

  • rockvillemomrockvillemom 6941 replies184 threads Senior Member
    We leave from Maryland - take 95 past Richmond (the worst traffic is this stretch of 95 in northern VA) - then we pick up Rt 85 just south of Richmond - I think it is at Petersburg - take 85 all the way to Rt 40 and you are there.

    We have also done Rt. 29 - but this is more of a local road with businesses on both sides and I think it is slower. Once you get on 85 - it's a breeze.
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  • Lafalum84Lafalum84 7382 replies150 threads Senior Member
    We have been wondering about this too, we're coming from MA with a stop in NJ.

    I have relatives near Columbia, SC, and we always take 78W - 81S -77S when we drive down. Avoids Philly/Baltimore/Washington/Richmond etc. But it looks to me like 78 - 81 takes you too far west for Elon, and 29 could be slow (as Rockvillemom says). I was planning to do 95 (ugh) to 85.

    Any other parents who've done this drive have an opinion?
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  • njmomnjmom 374 replies24 threads Member
    Lafalum84- We also drive 95 to 85 to both Elon and Wake. Way back, when oldest started at Wake, we had checked around, and that route seems to be the most popular, because when you are moving without traffic problems, it is fast and easy, unlike the stop and go of 29. However, when it is "bad," it is really bad! Remember, though, four years go by so quickly, I would gladly take the traffic and hassle to be going down to Wake for Family Weekend this year! Enjoy.
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  • rockvillemomrockvillemom 6941 replies184 threads Senior Member
    Agree with njmom that it is hard to predict how 95 will be. We just drove down to Wake last week and 95 in northern VA was ridiculous. But, as always, 85 was a breeze - which kind of makes up for it.

    WE have been up and down 29 a bit for other trips - and it is slow because there are traffic lights and cars entering/exiting the road due to stores, restaurants, etc. on both sides of the road. This is much more like a local road than a highway.
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  • Lafalum84Lafalum84 7382 replies150 threads Senior Member
    Thanks for the heads up on 29. I think H really wanted to do that route, but it doesn't sound like a great idea to me. From MA, would kinda make sense to head inland right away - take 84W to 81S - and avoid NYC, Philly, Baltimore, Washington and Richmond. But my in-laws are in NJ, near NYC, so we were planning on leaving here Wed evening, stopping at their house, then driving the rest of the way on Thursday. And from their house in NJ, getting all the way back to 81 becomes way out of the way.

    Well, we only plan to drive once in Sept and once in May. I've already booked D's plane tickets for Fall Break and Thanksgiving, and ours for Family weekend.
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  • BLK616BLK616 93 replies5 threads Junior Member
    A friend who took his daughter to college in Greensboro told me that 81 S from Baltimore is the fastest way. Has anyone done that?
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  • IvyTowerIvyTower 18 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I live in New York City area and my work takes me to the DC area on a regular basis. I am very familiar with the I-95 corridor. Here's my two cents for those making the trek to Elon from the North East.

    D.C. area traffic is a nightmare and and you have to plan ahead or you will be caught in traffic

    Avoid I-95 and the I-495 DC Beltway from 2PM to 7PM on weekdays. The window of opportunity when traffic flows smoothly is from 10 AM to around 2 PM and in the evenings from 7:30 or 8 PM onward. If you catch I-95 during these hours you should be ok barring an accident or something. There is a stretch of I-95 south that is undergoing construction from the Springfield Interchange to Woodbridge (about 8 mile stretch) and can have delays.

    Fridays are particularly bad as it is getaway day and many people and trucks, RV's heading north and south. Rush starts early on Fridays so best to clear DC area by 2PM or you will get stuck.

    Rest areas and food not much to commend, its all fast food joints in the travel plazas. I usually like to go off highway to places like Red Robin where food and cleanliness is higher standard. Good diner in Connecticut off I-84 on Exit 10 called Blue Colony if you are coming from N. England. In Bel Air MD. there is a good diner called Circle T about 10 mins off of I-95. In Woodbridge VA off of I-95 there is a massive outlet mall (Potomac Mills) that has an Abercrombie and Hollister outlet that my daughter likes to visit for deals on clothing.

    Get Gas in NJ, it's the cheapest.

    Cops: NJ Turnpike, up to 80 MPH seems ok, I've had troopers pass me while cruising at 80 MPH. From Exit 6 southwards... radar alley, highway narrows to 2 lanes with many hidden zones from which NJ troopers hide, particularly on overpasses and on ramps. Many unmarked cars as well. Keep an eye on what the truckers are doing, they know where the cops are.

    Maryland I-95 magic number is 75 MPH. If you go 80 you will get ticketed. Maryland troopers patrol entire I-95 regularly and have many places in center island to catch motorists. Also use unmarked cars to great extent. They love to ticket out of state cars because you won't come back to dispute the fine and just pay it (EZ revenue).

    Have a safe trip and look forward to meeting everyone at Elon!
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  • marmelanmarmelan 13 replies1 threads New Member
    Route one runs alongside I-95 and when traffic is REALLY bad on I-95 (especially south of DC all the way to Fredericksburg, VA) I get off and take rte. 1. It is not the best, but beats sitting in traffic.
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  • Scoutmom9Scoutmom9 350 replies94 threads Member
    Thanks for all your thoughts. Still not sure which way we will go but you all have given good food for thought. :)
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  • middletownmommiddletownmom 7 replies0 threads New Member
    I discovered College Confidential 6 years ago after my DS started college. I've been lurking here since and this is where I first learned about Elon Univ. My daughter is starting her second year and we will be traveling there next Friday as she is part of the Orientation team. We use I 95 to 85 and it generally takes us 9 hours, with stops. We have stopped in Spotsylvania (sp) in Virginia several times, there are lots of restaurants there.
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  • rhyrhy 92 replies8 threads Junior Member
    WE live in the DC area and have gone both I95 to I85 and also used route 29. I like 29 the best. It doesn't take any longer, there is no real traffic, and the scenary is much better. I think it is a 4 lane road most of the way.
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  • BigAppleDaddyBigAppleDaddy 249 replies25 threads Junior Member
    I drive south a few times every year to NC and I'd never take 95. Head west on 78 to I 81 and its much quicker, much less traffic until you hit 29 which is more a less a local road. And along with NJ, Virginia has notably cheaper gas prices too. I'd only go 95 if I were heading to the more easatern part of the state, like Raleigh-Durham, Wilmington , Outer Banks, and the like.
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  • Lafalum84Lafalum84 7382 replies150 threads Senior Member
    Those of you who like 81S to 29 - where do you pick up 29? Near Staunton, or further down (Lexington or Roanoke - cutting over on local roads)?
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  • nydancemomnydancemom 472 replies5 threads Member
    D will be a senior music theatre major. We live in Syracuse. Have made the trip many times because we don't like to miss her performances. We have always taken 81 south to Roanoke, picked up 220 S. in Roanoke, then take 87 S which brings you to the back of Elon's campus. We tried 95 once, since that is what mapquest said to take from our house (we heard about the 81 route from another Syracuse mom) and it was MUCH longer and MUCH more annoying because of traffic. Never have done that again. I have also tried 29. Has taken me longer than the 220/87 route even though mile wise I think it might be shorter. Takes almost exactly two hours from Roanoke to Elon using 220 to 87.
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  • NEMOM72NEMOM72 59 replies1 threads Junior Member
    My S is an Elon Alum and we traveled from CT, and tried all listed routes. For us, the route that always seemed the longest was the I-95 way. We would invariably hit traffic, construction or accidents so we usually took the other routes. I found them to be more pleasurable and less stressful. Granted, the eateries along the way were not that great, but the route itself is more scenic. Good luck.
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  • Lafalum84Lafalum84 7382 replies150 threads Senior Member
    Returned home from Elon, back to eastern Mass. We went down (& back) via I-78 to I-81 to Hwy 29. It went very well. Hwy 29 is four lanes, only a few traffic lights. It's pretty close to being an interstate grade most of the way, there's by-passes around the larger towns. Beautiful scenery in the mountains, and I-81 is beautiful going thru the Shenandoah Valley. I'd recommend this route.
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  • rockvillemomrockvillemom 6941 replies184 threads Senior Member
    Glad to hear everything went well. We are driving down in early November - maybe will will try 29 for a change. The last time we went down - 95 in northern VA was horrendous. Let us know how everything goes for your D.
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  • marmelanmarmelan 13 replies1 threads New Member
    I just returned from the trip and drove from New York to Elon down I-78 to I-81 to Roanoke where I took 220 to 87. I returned I-85 to I-95. Both trips took about the same time. Here are my notes: 78/81 - very scenic (farmland) but almost two lanes the entire way. There are many trucks on the route and I imagine that an accident could cause quite a traffic jam. It was a much more relaxing route than I-95. Also, it is much cheaper to drive through NJ/Pennsylvania. When I last stopped adding the tolls on I-95, I was up to $19 and I couldn't take it anymore. I-95, however, felt much faster for some reason. Most of the roads on I-95 are 3/4 lanes.
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  • Scoutmom9Scoutmom9 350 replies94 threads Member
    I ended up doing the I-78 to 81. Not sure it saved us any time but there was no traffic at all and a more scenic ride than 95. MMMmmm....
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