A Few Notes for my Fellow Flatlanders

Maine. The Way Life Should Be. It’s a wonderful state, and many of us enjoy a few weekends there every year. In turn, they enjoy our tourist dollars. Flatlanders need to learn a few things, however.

The York Tolls have two EZPass lanes, one on the far right and one on the left. If you don’t have one, stay in the middle. If you don’t know what it is, get out of the EZPass lanes. For some strange reason the Cawmmonwealth insists on doing its own thing and not participating in EZPass, but we do have reciprocity. If you have a Fastlane box, you can use the EZPass lanes.

The Piscataqua River Bridge connects The Way Life Should Be to Live Free or Die. It’s been unchanged for 40 years, although you might have missed it in the dark on Friday night. It doesn’t open, it has just as many lanes as the rest of I-95, and the speed limit doesn’t even drop. There is no need to slow down. There isn’t even a good view from the southbound side. Keep your right foot down, please.

The Hampton Tolls have recently been redone, so you may be allowed a little slack here. The left two lanes are express EZPass lanes, and the right two lanes go to the cash toll booths. The signage is well marked, but people still don’t seem able to figure it out. In short, once you leave Portsmouth, pick a side; right two lanes for cash, left two for EZPass. You have over five miles to get this right, so don’t run right up to the Jersey barriers and then change your mind. It just slows us all down.

The NH Liquor Store is about a mile after the tolls. I’ve always laughed at the concept of “Don’t Drink and Drive, but Buy Your Liquor from Us on the Interstate.” Nonetheless, this is your last chance for tax free booze before you hit the state line. The liquor store also has a good set of restrooms and vending machines, both of which are open 24/7. If traffic is heavy, why not take a break? Perhaps for 4 or 5 hours so the rest of us can get through.

The MA rest area at the state line was built with a state-of-the-art waterless composting toilet system. It’s a wonderful piece of green technology which is not open at all because the Cawmmonwealth ran out of money to staff it. Thanks, Governor Patrick. See the NH Liquor Store above, and N.B. that the NH Information Center on the northbound side is open 24/7.

Finally, I-495. 495 hasn’t moved since it was built. The right two lanes exit, and the left two continue south as I-95. We all know this. You should remember it from last weekend. The idea here is the same as at the Hampton Tolls. Know your lane and pick it early, preferably before crossing the state line. Don’t run up the left lane, then panic and cross all four lanes to exit. You in the white Jeep, I’m speaking specifically to YOU. Maneuvers like that are what is slowing us all down.

There’s a reason the locals have disparaging nicknames for us.  If we can all learn these few pointers and drive in a straight line, I should get home at a reasonable hour. Good luck!

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