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Old 12-04-2019, 10:56 AM
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Baltimore, MD to Greenville, SC


Making this road trip this weekend for a wedding. What are the pros and cons of going through DC and Richmond (Baltimore Beltway to 95 to Washington beltway to Richmond and then south) vs first heading north to Frederick and taking 81 south?
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:13 AM
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Having driven fairly large portions of both routes, I would recommend I-81 to I-77 to I-40 to Asheville, then I-26 to US 25 to save you having to go through Spartanburg to get to Greenville.

Wave at my alma mater as you drive past (Furman University).

Last edited by KneadToKnow; 12-04-2019 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:19 AM
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Depends on the time of day, in my experience, and weather. People around the DC beltway get especially stupid in rain or snow.

Have you considered the BW Parkway to 495, or 97 to 301 and picking up I95 near Bowling Green?
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:21 AM
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I-95 (and all its spurs) is a bitch, period!

Take I-70 to I-81 to I-26 to US 25 into Greenville. Much less stress.
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:46 AM
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I have tried the Southern Maryland (301) route a couple times, and am always annoyed by all the traffic lights.

Going through Ashville is about 15 miles longer. Is the traffic around Spartanberg really bad. I would always prefer to travel longer but keep moving so I have no problem with Ashville, just curious.
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:50 AM
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I'd classify the route through DC as "not for the uninitiated". Some while back, I drove this frequently and (sort of) got used to it. But it has to be called intense & stressful.

I checked the distances and was somewhat surprised to note that the I-81 / I-77 route adds less than 30 miles. Note that this takes you through the Virginia Highlands, which can suffer from worse weather than lower elevations. But the weekend forecast there seems decent. I'd go that way.
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:52 AM
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The westerly route would be a lot more scenic. The route from DC to Durham NC is pretty flat and not that interesting, imho.
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:54 AM
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Always go around DC, unless your destination is in DC. And I literally mean always, no matter the time of day -- I live well within the Beltway, and I will go well out of my way to avoid driving through the city. At worst, you'll add ~20-30 minutes to your trip. At best you'll avoid hours of congestion and extreme stress (at least from my perspective). That's a very easy trade-off IMO.
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Old 12-04-2019, 12:59 PM
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The traffic during the day is almost always stop and go on the beltway through 95 until somewhere between Quantico and Fredericksburg. However, if you'd be going through the city well outside of the peak congestion hours of between 5 am and 11 pm, I'd go through it, because while there is traffic in DC at all hours, there is truck traffic on 81 at all hours, and 81 is not built up for as much traffic as 95 is, so off-peak 95 can be less relatively congested.
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Old 12-04-2019, 01:22 PM
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I live in Southern Maryland. If you have Virginia plates, DO NOT come this way! Damn Virginia drivers, clogging up the roads on the weekend!

The Beltway route depends on when you are leaving. On the weekends it's not too bad, but I would just come straight down 301 and cross over into VA that way and then continue on.
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Old 12-04-2019, 03:32 PM
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I have traveled those routes many times. I always take I-81 these days unless there is major construction on that route. Google Maps is saying that there is construction between Christiansburg and Fort Chiswell on I-81 so you might want to check on that.

I usually cut the corner and take back roads between Frederick and Winchester to avoid having to go all the way to Hagerstown to pick up I-81, but that only saves you about 10 minutes so I would recommend taking the main roads if you don't know where you are going.

I usually take I-77 to Charlotte and I-85 to the Spartansburg/Greenville area (I've worked in several places around there). Never had any problems other than construction on I-81. I haven't tried burpo the wonder mutt's route so I can't comment on that.

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 12-04-2019 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 12-04-2019, 03:34 PM
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Heads up, there's still a lot of craziness going on with the toll lanes on I-77 north of Charlotte, which is why I recommended taking I-40 to I-26.
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Old 12-04-2019, 04:14 PM
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It depends a lot on time and day. When are you leaving?
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Old 12-04-2019, 06:11 PM
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Check the weather at Sam's Gap (TN-VA border on I-26) before heading out. It is at a high enough elevation that there can be significant differences in snow and ice conditions as compared to the lower elevations at Erwin, TN or Mars Hill, NC.

And if you have never traveled I-26 through Asheville I would strongly suggest using Google Street View to plan ahead. Eastbound (TN to SC direction) is easier with a sharp right hand exit from I-26E onto combined I-26E/I-240W to make the bridge over the French Broad River. Stay to the right and the right hand exit to continue on toward South Carolina comes up very very quickly.

On the return Asheville is a bit harder. You will have a short stretch from where you enter in the right lane along that bridge over the French Broad and need to quickly move over to the far left lane. Depending on time of day the traffic can be at a standstill with multiple vehicles trying to cross multiple lanes of traffic.

Traffic along I-26 between Asheville and the US-25 turnoff to Greenville can be heavy at times. There is a never ending construction project near Asheville doing bridge work with narrowed traffic lanes and frequent backups.

Last edited by Iggy; 12-04-2019 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 12-04-2019, 06:12 PM
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If you take 81, wave at my parents as you drive past Bristol.
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:35 AM
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When are you leaving? Because if you go through Frederick it's faster to go down 15/340 and catch VA 7 to I-81. The BIG problem can be the bridge to Harpers Ferry which gets backed up really bad now. There can also be a lot of traffic around Frederick on 70 from just east of Frederick to well past 340.
Going down 95, if you leave early enough, there's not always traffic. If you're planning on leaving Friday afternoon either way might be a nightmare.
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:50 AM
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Yeah, can you drive when the sun's down? If so, you can pretty much go any route you want.
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Old 12-05-2019, 08:00 AM
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I can get from South Central PA to Richmond, VA in about 3.5hours on a Saturday so long as I get past Fredericksburg, VA before approx. 9-10am.

In my experience it's the Fredericksburg to Quantico stretch* that really slows you down and if you can get through that before traffic gets stupid then you're usually good to go.

On the return trip the trick is to at least be inside the beltway before 8am to miss all of the Fredericksburg to Quantico traffic.

* Se·ri·ous·ly Virginia it's well past time for you to get your shit together and do something about the growing traffic problems across the state. Roads that could barely handle the traffic flow of the 90s are no longer cutting it!
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:49 AM
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81 is scenic but full of trucks. 95 until a little past Richmond has more lanes and is full of crazy drivers, but it's the most direct route I believe. It's a tradeoff really.
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