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Avoid the Delaware tolls, with or without E-ZPass


avoid Delaware tolls

Business columnist Jay Hancock beat me to it --- posting transportation columnist Michael Dresser's tips describing two methods to avoid the Delaware tolls.

Delaware charges the highest tolls per mile in the United States. No matter how you feel about the proposed E-ZPass fees, that's highway robbery.

I used the southern Delaware toll avoidance method (starting at MD 272 in North East --- that's exit 100) while headed northbound between Christmas and New Year's Day after a variable message sign alerted me to an accident. Great option if traffic is backed up for miles. I avoided the traffic and saved $4 to boot.

Wish I had tried the northern Delaware toll avoidance option, first mentioned by Dennis on an earlier post, when returning from a NYC trip yesterday. 

What Dresser forgot to mention ... 


... is that that part of Maryland, right around North East boasts some of the lowest gas prices in the area, as well as a wide variety of fast-food establishments for a different kind of fill up. Definitely worth checking out if you'd rather not pay service area prices.

Readers, are there any downsides to these methods? With the northern approach (on southbound 95) sometimes the traffic is backed up so far before that final exit that you might have to wait anyway.


The Delaware Turnpike toll is an outrage. I-95 through Delaware is all of 12 miles, and they charge $4.00 both way to traverse those 15 miles. So it works out to about 33 cents per mile to traverse the so called Delaware Turnpike. Like was previously mentioned, the most expensive toll road in the US on a per mile basis. The alternative roads provided to avoid the toll are so simple that everybody should be using it. Just a point of note however, the so called northern alternative (Maryland route 279 to Delaware route 2 to Delaware route 4 back to I-95) is definitely the much simpler of the two. You are off of the interstate for all of 5 minutes, and you only have about 3 traffic lights to slow you down. Once you get off of I-95 you make 2 right hand turns and you are right back on I-95 pass the Delaware Toll Plaza. Like was mentioned, the ONLY downside to the northern route is the traffic for people waiting to be robbed of their $4.00 is sometimes backed up this far. Not very often, but sometimes.

Steve, thanks for the comparison ... 279 for the win! -- lfk.

I am surprised that more people did not know about this route. I have been using this trick for over 10 years. There is also another route that you can use to avoid even more of I-95 in Delaware in cases where I-95 is backed up before Exit 1. Take Exit 3 to 273 South (or East) to "Old Baltimore Pike" West and then take 896 N to avoid the toll.

D, thank you for sharing this method of extending this detour even further! -- lfk.

I used to drive to NJ on weekends to visit my girlfriend (now wife) and have made the southern detour every single time. I think I've saved millions with that trick. :)

You've definitely saved a lot, especially when you factor in all the gas you've saved instead of idling in line to pay your toll! Now, if I could only find a detour for NJ itself ... :] --- lfk.

I used the Rts 279/ 2/ 4/ 896 avoidance route twice last weekend and thought it was wonderful. Only a few miles longer than taking the interstate, and with the added bonus of gas stations, stores, family restaurants, fast food places, etc. One caveat, though - it takes you right up to the David M. Nelson Athletic Complex so you could run into bad traffic if there are any athletic events going on.

Fantastic, thanks for reporting back! I guess it would be worth it to check beforehand if there are events scheduled, during the time you're traveling. But it's still got to be better than the toll booth backup! --- lfk.

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Eileen Ambrose has been writing on taxes, retirement, saving for college and other personal finance issues in her bi-weekly column at The Baltimore Sun since 1999. Got questions? She'll try to find answers.

Liz Kay developed her tightwad tendencies decades ago, convincing her parents to get her a subscription to Consumer Reports as a pre-teen. A Baltimore Sun reporter since 2002, Liz has covered beats such as schools, religion and consumer issues. Now, she writes the Watchdog column, helping resolve problems in neighborhoods and communities such as broken street lights, busted curbs and missing guard rails, and she's always on the look out for a good deal.

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