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Jalopnik: What's The Worst State To Drive Across? [Question Of The Day]

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504x_Welcome_To_ohio.jpgWe love a good road trip. Miles of open road, diners, scenery, et cetera. But there are some states we'd rather avoid. What's the worst state to drive across?

In our mind, it's hard to top I-80 across Ohio for the bottom of American driving. Most of the drive is one long reminder of the rust belt. Abandoned cars, factories and towns. See the once-glorious cities of America: Toledo, Cleveland and Youngstown! But that can be said of a lot of states. What really makes this particular trip abhorrent is the frequency of law enforcement protecting... well... who knows what exactly. And if police camping on the side of the road isn't enough the skies are filled with planes and helicopters tracking speeders. Listen to a CB and you'll hear the frequent refrain of: "bear in the air." It makes you look forward to pulling into Michigan or Indiana.

(QOTD is your chance to answer the day's most pressing automotive questions and experience the opinions of the insightful insiders, practicing pundits and gleeful gearheads that make up the Jalopnik commentariat. If you've got a suggestion for a good "Question Of The Day" send an email to tips at jalopnik dot com.)

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Nebraska

There is NOTHING there until you get to the blink of Lincoln, or to Omaha Iowa.

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I've done the I-80 drive from Chicago west through Iowa and Nebraska. Flat. No scenery to speak of. Dull. I-80 across Wyoming, not much better, though there is some interesting scenery. I-80 in Utah was interesting. I-80 in Nevada was pretty barren.

Did the Ohio Turnpike drive from Toledo to I-77 in Akron area so many times from '94-97 when going and coming from Ann Arbor. Boring.

Driving the length of Florida via I-75 and the turnpike (or I-95) is tedious, done that many times both as passenger and driver.

Driving I-70 and then the PA turnpike then I-81 and I-84 into NY was fun, very scenic...green and mountainy.

I-77 from Ohio down through WV, VA, and into NC is very scenic...lots of hills/mountains, rivers, greenery.

I enjoy I-70 from Denver to Utah, done that a few times...incredible scenery. Haven't driven I-70 from Denver to Kansas, probably flat and boring.

I've driven across New Mexico on I-25, I-10, and I-40 several times, some nice scenery, lots of empty. Same with AZ on I-17 and I-10.

Done the I-8 drive from AZ to San Diego a few times...lots of dull, but some interesting places (giant rock formations, Plaster City).

West Coast I've pretty much just done urban freeway driving around metro areas.

I vaguely remember going across Texas from Arkansas through DFW to El Paso (and the opposite direction) a couple times as a passenger in my folks' RV on road trips, but don't remember much than it being a very, very WIDE state...took a couple days to cross.

Rob

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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Driving the Cumberland Gap Parkway (which will be soon be converted into a corridor of the future I-66) is boring to drive during the day and depressing to drive at night. Very few cars in sight until you hit where it splits into I-65.

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I-77 from Ohio down through WV, VA, and into NC is very scenic...lots of hills/mountains, rivers, greenery.

Rob

But once you enter SC, I-77 SUX. I may as well have been in the desert the one time I drove that stretch.

I used to hate riding on I-95 through North Carolina when I was a kid taking family trips to Georgia. But in much more recent years, the new roads they've built have made it much more interesting for a roadgeek like me. :AH-HA_wink:

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But once you enter SC, I-77 SUX. I may as well have been in the desert the one time I drove that stretch.

I used to hate riding on I-95 through North Carolina when I was a kid taking family trips to Georgia. But in much more recent years, the new roads they've built have made it much more interesting for a roadgeek like me. :AH-HA_wink:

Ya...I vaguely remember that...we used to alternate going I-77 to I-95 with I-75 to the Fla Turnpike when doing the 1200 mile drive from E. Ohio to the Florida Keys from '82-88...my folks must have made that drive roundtrip 2-3 times a year then. I did the drive myself a couple times. One time, my Dad decided to try a different route and we took I-85 through Birmingham, Ala and down through Dothan, Ala to the Florida panhandle...that was interesting.

Rob

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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Easy.

Since the question is STATE and not a particular INTERSTATE HIGHWAY, the answer is...badda-bing...TEXAS, via Interstate 10.

You pull in from Louisiana and see how far it is to El Paso, the western end, and become depressed. (I've always liked Houston for some reason, but there is still a lot of road to cover to get to El Paso, at Texas's western end). My guardian angel watched over me, and my Cutlass Supreme, as I traversed the US on Interstate 10 one summer from Florida all the way home to Los Angeles.

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I think Route 9 across the bottom of Vermont sucks pretty bad. You cross the Connecticut River from Chesterfield, NH into Brattleboro, VT and then there's like 50 miles of retarded hills, curves, and $h!ty road surface through a vast expanse of nothing that will do a year's worth of damage to your car in two hours time until you reach Bennington. Then, out of Bennington it's another ten or so awful miles till you hit the New York border around Hoosick(?) and then it turns into NY-7.

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Driving the Cumberland Gap Parkway (which will be soon be converted into a corridor of the future I-66) is boring to drive during the day and depressing to drive at night. Very few cars in sight until you hit where it splits into I-65.

I don't see how that's a bad thing, having the road to yourself.

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Kansas
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Kansas

Similar to Nebraska, I assume. 12 years in Colorado, and I've never driven through neighboring Kansas (and only once across Nebraska).

Rob

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Kansas is great because there is nobody around when you get out of populated areas. Nobody. I hit held the Sebring over 100 for about 40 miles across Kansas, never saw a cop, never passed another car, never had oncoming traffic.

Missouri is dull, I-44 is terrible but I-70 is worse. Illinois is pretty bad too, once you get past the St. Louis there is nothing but corn until Springfield, then once past Springfield nothing but corn until Chicago.

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Easy.

Since the question is STATE and not a particular INTERSTATE HIGHWAY, the answer is...badda-bing...TEXAS, via Interstate 10.

You pull in from Louisiana and see how far it is to El Paso, the western end, and become depressed. (I've always liked Houston for some reason, but there is still a lot of road to cover to get to El Paso, at Texas's western end). My guardian angel watched over me, and my Cutlass Supreme, as I traversed the US on Interstate 10 one summer from Florida all the way home to Los Angeles.

The speed limit is 80. I-10 in Texas is fine--Texas is just one big state.

No, I-40 through Oklahoma is my least favorite--they built some terribly-designed freeways through that state: left exits, no shoulders, asymmetrical exit configurations, poor signage, Kilpatrick Turnpike, etc. Doesn't help that the average driver would be classified as "mildly retarded," either.

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I don't see how that's a bad thing, having the road to yourself.

It's a bad thing when you take it for a family trip, with other people in the car.

If I were alone on the occasions I have driven on that road, it would have been much more entertaining.

Oddly enough, I have seen old Toyota ads for the MR2 which mention that, back in the early 90s, the CGP was one of the few highways left at the time when the 55 mph national speed limit was still in place where you could drive 65. Of course, it was a toll road all the way up until the early 2000s.

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Ya...I vaguely remember that...we used to alternate going I-77 to I-95 with I-75 to the Fla Turnpike when doing the 1200 mile drive from E. Ohio to the Florida Keys from '82-88...my folks must have made that drive roundtrip 2-3 times a year then. I did the drive myself a couple times. One time, my Dad decided to try a different route and we took I-85 through Birmingham, Ala and down through Dothan, Ala to the Florida panhandle...that was interesting.

Rob

We did something like that when we would drive to Panama City Beach from my grandparents' place in central Georgia. US 80 through Columbus, GA into Alabama, then US 231 south into Florida. Definitely a country drive, but not really a boring one.

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I can live with boring, endless drives. I can't stand overzealous law enforcement.

That said, while I've heard bad things about Ohio and Massachusetts, I've haven't seen it. So, I nominate Maryland... its like driving through a Police state, and on I-95, you have to pay for the privilege. It feels like the longest state on the drive to Florida when you have a trooper on your rear pacing you.

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I can live with boring, endless drives. I can't stand overzealous law enforcement.

That said, while I've heard bad things about Ohio and Massachusetts, I've haven't seen it. So, I nominate Maryland... its like driving through a Police state, and on I-95, you have to pay for the privilege. It feels like the longest state on the drive to Florida when you have a trooper on your rear pacing you.

Funny you nominate Maryland, and I was seriously just about to add New Jersey to my list. :lol:

The Turnpike is boring as crap, but at least the trek between Philadelphia (well, I-195 to Trenton) and New York (I-278 to Staten Island) is relatively quick.

And you have to pay for the privilege.

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Saskatchewan, even though it's not a state. :P

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Nebraska is boring if you stay on I-80, but if you venture off onto US 26 at Ogallala and head up toward Scottsbluff, it's pretty scenic.

To tell you the truth, I can't think of any state I would find that boring to travel across. They all have something to offer. If you're talking just on geographics, sure Kansas, Nebraska, etc. are fairly flat, but they also have parts of the state where the scenery can be astounding. In Kansas, try driving through the Flint Hills near Emporia...green grass, rolling hills, prairie flowers, and nothing else but you and the blue sky above.

Whenever I drive, I try to take in the scenic routes as much as I can. Once you get off the 75 mph gas station/cheap motel/fast food expressway, you see that each state has its own flavor.

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One of the more scenic drives I've done in recent years was US 60 from Socorro, NM to Phoenix via Sho Low and the Salt River Canyon... cuts across high desert in NM and some goregous red rock areas....great western wide-open vistas. Alas, I usually stick to the interstates when I'm on the road as I'm usually time-limited..got to get from point A to point B as fast as possible.

Rob

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Funny you nominate Maryland, and I was seriously just about to add New Jersey to my list. :lol:

Touche.

Maybe NJ is harder on out of staters... obviously, I have the native plates. But, IMHO, NJ doesn't have nearly the police PRESENCE that Maryland seems to have. I can drive the NJ toll triangle (AC Expressway to NJ Turnpike to Garden State Parkway to AC Expressway) and not see one occupied police car, marked or unmarked.

I doesn't drive through Maryland too often... maybe twice every four years... but it always seems the same. Maybe its changed, or I have poor luck. OTOH, I have never been pulled over in MD.

The Turnpike is boring as crap, but at least the trek between Philadelphia (well, I-195 to Trenton) and New York (I-278 to Staten Island) is relatively quick.

And they are making it wider soon, so the quickness will hopefully be extended south. I don't usually drive the I-295 parallel parts of the NJT... I use I-295 instead. I never find it boring swerving around the out-of-state moving speed bumps. ;-)

And you have to pay for the privilege.

Only because the US government didn't bother finishing the real I-95.

I don't mind as much paying for the ACE, GSP or NJT because with the exception of the I-95 badged portion of the NJT, they are not part of the federal funded Interstate system. It irks me when federally built and maintained roads are then tolled by the state. To my knowledge, MD, MA, IL, PA have done this for more miles than the I-95 stretch of the NJT.

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The drive between Syracuse and Rochester, NY is pretty bad. The drive from Boston gets progressively more boring after going through the Berkshires until you end up with a straight, flat road between two rusty cities.

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Touche.

Maybe NJ is harder on out of staters... obviously, I have the native plates. But, IMHO, NJ doesn't have nearly the police PRESENCE that Maryland seems to have. I can drive the NJ toll triangle (AC Expressway to NJ Turnpike to Garden State Parkway to AC Expressway) and not see one occupied police car, marked or unmarked.

I doesn't drive through Maryland too often... maybe twice every four years... but it always seems the same. Maybe its changed, or I have poor luck. OTOH, I have never been pulled over in MD.

Here in MD, where even the cops do at least 15 over as a minimum, you have to be a real idiot to be pulled over.

And they are making it wider soon, so the quickness will hopefully be extended south. I don't usually drive the I-295 parallel parts of the NJT... I use I-295 instead. I never find it boring swerving around the out-of-state moving speed bumps. ;-)

I thought about taking 295 when I went to NY back in April but decided I would rather drive through Philadelphia since I never had before.

Only because the US government didn't bother finishing the real I-95.

I don't mind as much paying for the ACE, GSP or NJT because with the exception of the I-95 badged portion of the NJT, they are not part of the federal funded Interstate system. It irks me when federally built and maintained roads are then tolled by the state. To my knowledge, MD, MA, IL, PA have done this for more miles than the I-95 stretch of the NJT.

You know I-95 (Somerset Freeway) through NJ was actually blocked by community activists and (most importantly) the Turnpike Authority itself, right? It wasn't that FHWA had just stopped building it... they had plans in place and everything. But no one would let them finish it.

Also, with many of the tollways, they were actually planned, financed, and built by state agencies (especially those of MA and PA) before the advent of the Interstate Highway System in 1956; the I-xx designations got added on later as they fit into the system. Federal law prohibits back-tolling of federally funded Interstate highways, lest they lose their designation.

However, state-funded tollways and turnpikes built with no federal funding are allowed to be signed as Interstates. Quirky, I know.

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New Mexico and North Dakota are a tie.

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