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Old 09-20-2010, 04:33 PM   #1
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Columbus Ohio to Somerset NJ - best way?

Planning a few days trip from Columbus Ohio to Somerset NJ. Anybody familiar with the best route between I-70 to 76 (turnpike) or I-71 to 80 and all the way across? If we take the toll road it looks like $45.00 or so for our Newmar.

I'm told there are some hellacious grades on I-80 but cannot verify that for sure. I'm also told that the PA turnpike grades are limited to 3%, if that's true. I cant find anything about max grades experienced on either route anywhere.

I'm more concerned with smoother roads AND less steep grades to traverse. Any suggestions/info would be appreciated since I haven't traveled out that way in decades.

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Old 09-20-2010, 08:40 PM   #2
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If you decide to go the I-70/I-76 route, I'd be more concerned about the steep grade over the mountain on I-470 in Wheeling, WV and the grade on I-70 between exit 6 and 10 in WV. They're steeper than any grade on the PA Turnpike. Personally, I prefer to take I-70 through the Wheeling Tunnel and avoid I-470 altogether. However, the westbound tube of the tunnel was closed last month when I was traveling to Barkcamp State Park in OH and the detour was to take I-470. It was a good test for the Duramax and I was pleased that the D-Max was able to maintain 65 going up the grade.

Yes, the original PA Turnpike was designed with a maximum 3% grade and it's documented on their website via the link below.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike - About the PTC

The text reads:

"Although Vanderbilt's railroad bed was originally planned for a maximum two percent grade, the maximum grade selected for the turnpike was three percent, which an automobile could easily tolerate but was still much less than the nine to twelve percent grades on local highways."

The tolls on the PA Turnpike aren't cheap these days. But the grades are gentle and all the long grades are three lanes on the ascending side. You will also pass through four tunnels while on the PA Turnpike.

I understand that Ohio now has E-ZPass. If you have time before you leave (if you haven't done so already), you might want to sign up for it in your state as the PA Turnpike takes E-ZPass too. I find traveling on toll facilities that take E-ZPass makes life much easier... for many reasons.

I don't have a lot of experience traveling on I-80. Maybe someone else can help.

2009 GMC Sierra 2500HD | Crew Cab | Standard Box | 4WD | Duramax/Allison
2000 Jayco Eagle 266 | FBS | TT
1986 Coleman Laramie pop-up -- Still in the family!!!
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Old 09-20-2010, 08:59 PM   #3
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Coming from Columbus, you definitely want to take I70 to Carlisle, PA and then switch over to I-81 and eventually I-78.

Done this route MANY times in everything from our old Class C to our current DP with no problems. PA Turnpike may only have 3% grades but they go on for 5 miles!

I81 is mostly through the Susquehanna River valley. One big climb on I78 near Allentown, PA and one as soon as you get into NJ over Jugtown Mountain (where all the moonshine for NYC was made during prohibition).

We're right off Exit 11 on I78 in NJ so drop a line if your run into trouble in NJ.

Good luck!
Tom and Katharine
'07 Winnebago Tour 40TD, 400hp Cummins
RVing for 19 years & 150,000+ miles
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