When driving up or down the Eastern seaboard GPS and navigation apps all seem route me through New York City, leaving me to deal with the exorbitant bridge tolls. My most recent trip cost me over $50 in tolls, mostly because the GPS insisted on sending me into, then out of, NYC. Seeing as how the high tolls are presumably meant to deter city traffic, you'd think there would be a way for drivers to opt out of driving through the city. But of course, asking Google Maps or Waze to avoid tolls gives me the completely toll-free route, which adds many unnecessary hours to my trip by avoiding every toll along the way. So, my question is: how can I avoid or minimize the NYC tolls if I just want to go past New York and not enter it?
You have to cross the Hudson River somewhere, so its bridges are natural choke points. The three closest to, but not entering, New York City are:
New Tappan Zee Bridge on I-87/I-287/NYS Thruway, toll $5.00 eastbound
Bear Mountain Bridge on US-6/US-202, toll $1.50 eastbound
Newburgh-Beacon Bridge on I-84, toll $1.50 eastbound.
The bridges further north would likely be too far out of your way (the next is the Mid-Hudson bridge, 75 miles north of NYC). So you can try your route with your favorite online route planner, adding each of these three bridges successively as intermediate stops, and see which route looks best.