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Poll: D.C. area traffic just gets worse

A new poll on Washington area traffic congestion has inspired our Readers Who Comment to suggest a number of solutions as they discuss what is probably the biggest time waster in our suburban sprawl society -- the trip to and from work.

Readers tell our pollsters that traffic has gotten worse over the past five years. They suggest more taxes and fewer taxes, improved land-use planning, cheaper public transit, giving up the McMansion for a more-intelligent close-to-the job residence that makes it possible to bike or walk to work, etc.

As Ashley Halsey III and Jennifer Agiesta write, "among those employed outside the home, 28 percent have decided to bypass the gridlock by working remotely, and the same amount report that they have moved closer to work to ease their commutes. About four in 10 people who telecommute say they do so at least once a week."

We'll start with Chuckled, one of several readers who questioned the article's statement that area residents who commute spend "an estimated 62 hours a year battling heavy traffic." He asked, "Did anyone fact-check this number? 52 weeks a year, that's barely a little more than an hour a week per person? I think I had worse walking from my dorm to classes in college."

beeker25 wrote, "...The problem lies in the fact that people want to be able to drive when they want to but demands that traffic must be free and clear for them simply does not work. There needs to be a change in habit to utilize public transportation to ease the flow of the traffic and it will save tons of gas being wasted idling. Until there's a change in way to view transportation and funding it and the funding for more highway is not going to solve it."

mateosf observed that, "Um, not everyone can live in the suburbs, drive a car by themselves, pay low taxes, and expect to get to work on magically traffic-free freeways funded by pixie dust and fruit loops... The suburban lie is over. You dug the hole, put the coffin in it, climbed in and turned on the ignition switch. Now inhale the fumes and go to sleep ..."

WashingtonDame wrote, "Federal government needs to move its agencies OUT of the District and then OUT of the close-in suburbs. In the Internet age, clustering federal buildings in one are[a] is completely nonsensical."

slim2 suggested, "If telecommuting really works, then simply expanding the idea further by dispersing the FEDGOV hog trough more broadly across the economically depressed fruited plain would also provide an additional benefit of immense quality of life improvements in the DC region."

aullman noted that "The Federal Gov't supports telecommuting centers located around the DC area for Federal employees...."

frantaylor said, "Conservative Republicans, while stuck in traffic, make phone calls from their cars to talk radio shows, explaining why public transportation is a bad idea. And then they go on to complain about how people don't spend enough time with their families any more."

KevinTinMD said, "Even back in 2000 I couldn't take it anymore (the traffic). Found another job out of the area and now my commute time is 10 minutes from house to office. No more smog, no more traffic jams... Much happier now, more free time to myself. Wouldn't go back to the DC metro area if you bought me a new house and car..."

tristesse27 wrote, "...If you choose to live in a McMansion 20 miles from where you work, then don't complain about the commute."

And garrafa10 said, "Perhaps living closer to work is a better option than an underwater McMansion?"

To which FredKnowsBest replied, "Yea..if you can afford a place inside the beltway."

fleeciewool said, "Traffic is so bad in town during the am rush hour that my 4-mile commute is fastest when I walk."

kls1 wrote, "You can build roads all you want. They'll just keep building homes wherever there's a road. People COMMUTE from Winchester because there's an interstate. If DC wants to continue to build the density of jobs, the density of housing has to increase, that is -- high rise condos two miles from work instead of half-acre single homes 10, 20 or 50 miles from work."

webfool said, "If they could make metro more affordable and more reliable it would be a viable option. For now, driving a car is cheaper."

We'll close with cmarshdtihqcom, who advised, "...Move to that nice dorm-style apartment... next door to the headquarters of the company where you traditionally work and it is a five minute walk to work. What's time or money worth to you? Usually, as I found out after taking this job 10 1/2 years ago, time becomes more important than money."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  April 12, 2010; 8:58 AM ET
 | Tags: Commuting, Land-use planning, Metro, Traffic  
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