Driving route advice: OH/KY/TN or OH/WV/VA/TN?

I’m sitting here in a hotel room in Youngstown, OH - to apartment hunt tomorrow. I plan to drive back to Knoxville, TN on Tuesday, which gives me one day to find a place. I can do that - I’ve got my day tomorrow mapped out.

Driving up today, I took I-75 from Knoxville, through KY to Cincinnati, then I-71 to I-76 to I-80. Took about 8.5 hours, and I noticed a lot of construction zones through KY - particularly just south of Lexington, where there were signs that said “blasting M-Th, 1-3 PM. Expect long delays.”…well, if I leave here around the same time I left Knoxville this morning, I’d be hitting Lexington around 1 PM. That got me thinking about whether I might be better to backtrack to Akron, then pick up I-77 and head down through WV to I-81 in VA, and follow that to I-40 in TN. It looks to be more direct - I’m trying to check it through Mapquest or Expedia, but those aren’t necessarily the same as personal experience.

So, now that I’ve babbled, the choices to get home are:

  1. I-80, I-76, I-71 through Columbus and Cincinnati in Ohio, I-75 from Cincinnati to Knoxville

  2. I-80 to I-86 to I-77 in Ohio, through WV, pick up I-81 in VA and take that to I-40 in TN, follow to Knoxville.

Any advice?

This post is my penance for sending you links about Traficant a few weeks ago.

Yahoo agrees with your original (via Lexington) route. The “I-77” route takes you through Charleston. So I entered “Youngstown-to-Charleston” into Yahoo and found that it routes you there not via I-77 but via I-76 into PA, where you would pick up I-79 south. From there, it’s the I-77/I-81 route you mentioned to Knoxville. A lot of it is a pretty drive, and it’s tolerable now that the WVA turnpike is no longer a two-lane road (I’m showing my age).

However, this turns out to be 50 miles farther than the other route. And the I-77/I-81 area in Virginia (Wytheville) is a notorius speed trap.

So unless the construction will slow you down by more than about 40 minutes, Lexington is still probably the better route. And as a Lexingtonian, of course, I’d rather you came this way. :slight_smile:

P.S… Sometimes Cincinnati’s eastern bypass makes sense if you’re going through at a congested time of day. Downtown is a crap shoot.

Yeah…the thing is, the construction is the unknown - unless you know how bad the traffic tie-ups have been just south of Lexington.

I noticed that thing it did with sending me down 79 from Youngstown instead of backtracking to Akron. So I finally searched Akron to Briston VA/TN, then another search from Bristol to Knoxville, and added 40 miles for the Youngstown/Akron addition. Akron to Bristol took me right down 77, for 413 miles (6.75 hours) and Bristol to Knoxville claims 113 miles (2 hours). Add 40 miles, and I’m 20 miles over the mileage on my car when I pulled into the lot here.
I’ll probably make my decision Tuesday morning - taking the toll road and the like into consideration. Thanks for the input (and oh so many thanks again for the Traficant links :wink: )

If it’s only 20 miles, I’d go that way just for the variety, or at least just to be perverse. I hate taking the same route twice.

I can’t answer the construction time estimation question… that time of say I never have a radio going. Sorry.

Without any consideration for the length of the trip, I also tend to take a different route home. If there are no other compelling reasons, take the different path home. You never know what may lie around the next corner. :slight_smile:

Well, if you’re going to hit Lexington right about the time they start the blasting, the delays shouldn’t be that long. And since I-40 suffers from terminal construction (it added three hours to a 10-hour trip last time we went home), the road work is probably a non-issue.

I am a Tennessee Dept. Of Transporation Employee.
There is construction on I-40, just outside Nashville.
Expect long delays. Blasting will take place.

But I wouldn’t be taking I-40 through Nashville. If I pick it up, it will be in upper East TN, and I’d only be on it to Knoxville - and once I’m in the Knoxville area, I know ways to get around the interstate delays.
I’m probably going to go through WV, partly because I’ve never been there and partly because if I get stuck in the Lexington area, I don’t know ways around construction delays, unlike the Knoxville area.

Sorry. My bad.

Possble helpful stuff:

Interstate 75

  • On I-75 in Chattanooga between mm-5, Shallowford Road and mm-9, the Chattanooga city limits, motorists should be alert to work zone conditions.

  • On I-75 in Bradley and McMinn Counties, between mm-25, SR-60 and mm-47, near SR-30, there will be occasional temporary lane closures Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for replacement of overhead signs.

  • In Knoxville, the ramp from I-640 east to I-75 north is under repair. From 7 p.m. Friday, August 20 through 6 a.m. Monday, August 23, the ramps from I-640 east and west to I-75 north WILL BE CLOSED. Motorists should use I-275 to avoid this area.

  • On I-75/640 in Knoxville from the I-40 interchange west of town (mm-0) to the I-640 split (mm-3), I-640 is reduced from three lanes to two lanes in each direction.

  • On I-75 in Knoxville between Merchants Drive, mm-108 and Callahan Drive, mm-110, overnight Monday, from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. the next morning, I-75 north will be reduced from three lanes to two lanes for sign installation. Overnight Tuesday and Wednesday, from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. the next morning, I-75 south will be reduced from three lanes to two lanes.

  • On I-275 in Knoxville between Oldham Avenue, mm-1 and Heiskell Avenue, mm-2, overnight Monday, August 23 through Thursday, August 26, from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following morning, I-275 will be reduced from three lanes to two lanes in both directions for sign installation.

  • On the ramp from I-275 south in Knoxville to I-40 east, on Tuesday, August 24, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the ramp will be reduced to one lane.

  • On I-75 in Campbell County at mile marker 155 south of Jellico, around noon daily,

traffic will be paced for about 15 minutes for blasting.
Interstate 81

There is no construction activity to report at this time.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat and there’s more than one way to go south.

I wouldn’t drive to VA to get to TN from upper OH, even with delays. I’ve been traveling back and forth between Cincinnati and Lake Cumberland, KY (Renfro Valley exit off I-75) for years and I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade. Rule number one is to invest in a good, detailed map of the states you are traveling. Pay the $2 at a gas station or try the welcome centers.

If you look at a map of KY and TN, you’ll see that SR 25 pretty much straddles I-75 the entire length of KY all the way into Knoxville. Now it’s conceivable that you could take SR25 the entire way but that would add a lot of time to your commute because SR’s usually have lights and speed reductions as you come to populated areas. So I wouldn’t take it all the way down. Rather, I’d take I-75 as usual and at the first sign of a traffic jam, I’d exit at the first available exit and then find SR25. After 5-10 miles, I’d attempt to get back on the highway and hope that I’ve gone beyond the accident/blasting zone, etc.

Good luck!

Ok. So, the next time I say “I think I’ll drive through West Virginia”, remind me of this.

There are 2 tunnels towards the southern end of I-77. I managed them both, the second better than the first, but with the first one I started to feel the beginnings of panic. I took a couple of deep breaths, let my speed drop (there was only one other car in the tunnel, and it was in front of me) and dealt with it. But I do not like tunnels that go through mountains. That simple.
Beyond that, it was an ok drive. It did take longer than I thought, partly because the curves through WV slowed me down, partly because I took more/longer breaks than I did going up, and partly because I hit through parts of VA and TN. Mileage was really fairly close between the two - about 30 miles longer the way I drove today.

There really are some beautiful areas through WV.

Yikes - you didn’t mention tunnelphobia. Stay off I-40 through the Smokies, then.

I don’t think I would have known it was there until today - I’ve drive through short tunnels around Chattanooga, TN, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never driven through something where you approach it and see the mountain just rising above it like that.

And I’ve driven through other tunnels - like the one in (I think) Mobile that didn’t bother me. So I’m not at all sure what it was about these two that hit me wrong today. And I think that if I had someone else in the car with me, I’d be fine.

Odd, though. At least for me.

I was going to ask why you didn’t take the route through the Cumberland Gap rather than I-75 all the way to Knoxville, but if you don’t like tunnels… well, not a good route.

I did travel the state routes through Kentucky on a trip from Indiana to Tennessee once, and it wasn’t bad at all. Drove part of it again when a toxic waste spill shut down I-75 on another trip, so I second the suggestion to get a good map and plan for some alternates.