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What's Washington's worst intersection?

Intersection of Florida and New York avenues becomes even more puzzling

The Washington region is notorious for congested traffic. Is one intersection worse than all the rest? If you know of one, tell us in two sentences, where it is and what makes it the worst. Send your reply to transportation@washpost.com or post a comment below so other drivers can weigh in.

Here are some other comments we received:

As a pedestrian, my path is constantly being obstructed and cut off by negligent drivers at Washington Circle in Foggy Bottom. I don't know why planners did such an awful job of planning for traffic - I can barely walk around the circle in ten minutes because there are so many cars in the way!
-- Thomas John Nasvytis

By far the worst intersection for pedestrians and cyclists is University Blvd and New Hampshire.
-- Joshua Sewell

I'd say Wisconsin & R is very difficult for pedestrians to cross east
to west. Also, 34th and M is challenging for pedestrians to cross east
to west.

Those would be my top two.
-- Mitch Wander

16th & Irving in Columbia Heights: drivers routinely (i.e. I see at
least one almost every morning) run red lights or block the box,
grossly speed down Irving, don't stop for pedestrians in the
crosswalks, and often ignore the crossing guards - all within a block
of three schools!

-- Chris Adams


By Ashley Halsey  | October 18, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting, Congestion, District, Driving, Highways, Maryland, Montgomery County, Northern Virginia, Prince George's County, Traffic Safety, Tysons Corner, Virginia  
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Comments

The answer is almost certainly EVERY SINGLE TRAFFIC CIRCLE. Is that cheating?

Posted by: nationalcoholic | October 14, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

In residential parts of Northwest, stop signs are more disregarded than obeyed, making each intersection a killing zone.

Posted by: axolotl | October 14, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Van Dorn Street and Franconia Road in Virginia during the morning rush hour (I'm specifically limiting the comment to that time of day). Van Dorn backs up from the City of Alexandria all the way down past Franconia and a lot of drivers seem either unable to unwilling to refrain from blocking the box, so both Van Dorn and Franconia wind up going nowhere as nobody can go straight and nobody can turn because there's no room to make the turn (plus there are "No U-Turn" signs all the way around, restricting one's ability to bail out and go back the way you came).


Dishonorable mention goes to Washington Circle.

Posted by: 1995hoo | October 14, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Not truly an intersection, unless you count cars now colliding on a daily basis:

The Dulles Toll Road, just after the eastbound toll plaza, and just before the westbound toll plaza. It's a disaster of unmarked and disappearing lanes, jersey barriers, no or incorrect signage, and suicide merges, now both morning and evening. Thanks, VDOT, MWAA, and/or HOT construction!

Posted by: nocando | October 14, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Either make blocking the box a felony or start installing rams on your bumpers.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | October 14, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

What is your response to criticism of this question on Greater Greater Washington? http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=7624

Posted by: subwayguy | October 14, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Wilson and N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn probably isn't the worst intersection per se, but it definitely is one of the worst when it comes to blocking the box.

Posted by: sunny617 | October 14, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Florida and R NW, just five blocks from Shaw Metro is absolutely frightening to cross. Most vehicles disregard the cross walk and give dirty looks, honk and gun their motors if you dare try to cross. Several of my neighbors have been run over there both on foot and by bike. I've had close calls myself.

Posted by: Liberal4CommonSense | October 14, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Little River Turnpike and Beauregard St. This intersection was always bad with high traffic and the on-ramp to 395 close to it, but the addition of the traffic light at Oasis Drive 200 feet east made it a *nightmare*.

(This light was mainly added for pedestrian safety, which is good, but it just screws with the light timing on LRT leading to bigger and bigger backups.)

Posted by: TheMatt | October 14, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Try being a pedestrian crossing Eye street at Farragut Square's southeast corner. Cars are nipping at your knees.

Washington Circle at New Hampshire Avenue is no picnic either. There's not enough room for all the pedestrians to stand on the median to cross to the circle so some are left standing in the street.

Posted by: Elkay1 | October 14, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I think it has to be where 28 meets 66. That is clearly an area that needs a cloverleaf between two of the busiest highways in the area. There is just so much traffic light can do. Often the traffic back up from 66 all the way to route 50 in the evening rush hour. Approximately 3 miles!

Posted by: cassiomiranda | October 14, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

@subwayguy

My recollection is that Ashley Halsey is an enthusiastic cyclist. Maybe GGW posters need to spend more time reading his columns than whining about the all the big, bad cars.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | October 14, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

I submit 3 for vehicular traffic:

Between Tysons and McLean, the intersection of Dolley Madison Blvd and Great Falls St. The timing of the traffic signal creates backups in all directions. Fix the light's timing sequence during rush hours, and the traffic will flow better.

In Northern DC, North Capitol St at Missouri Ave and Riggs Rd. On Northbound North Cap, the left lane becomes a left-turn-only lane with only one warning approximately 5 car lengths before the light along the right side. Outbound commuters realize their predicament too late and block traffic trying to turn left onto Missouri. Some will block traffic in the right lanes as they try to shift right one lane. A problem at this intersection will back up traffic on North Capitol sometimes to Michigan Ave. Cars and buses proceeding to/from the Fort Totten Metro Station on Missouri-Riggs will block the box, particularly in the morning. The elementary charter school on Riggs will cause some parents to just stop in the right lane to let their children out. Traffic diverts to the residential neighborhoods to avoid the backup, only to get lost. I always dread having to drive through it.

Last, near downtown, the traffic pattern at Mount Vernon Square is very confusing, particularly from any approach on Massachusetts Ave or 7th Street from the Verizon Center area. Fortunately, all of the detours around the Square are major streets, so avoiding it for the intrepid driver is relatively easy. But Tony Kornheiser constantly complains about it on his radio show as he tries to drive his luxurious SUV to his manse in Chevy Chase. Either fix the intersection's pattern or find Tony a map.

Posted by: Jamie_L | October 15, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

@ Jamie_L

What time are you at the North Capitol and Riggs intersection? I use that intersection every day, and I've seen it backed up to Michigan! Cars do get stuck in the wrong (left turn) lane, but it's easy to move around on the left when southbound traffic is on a red light.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | October 16, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Washington Circle in Foggy Bottom! (K Street, New Hampshire Avenue, Pennsylvania Ave, 23rd Street).

The main problem is that drivers coming off of Pennsylvania Avenue rarely if ever obey the law that traffic entering the circle must yield right of way to traffic already in the circle. They just keep coming! (Yes, I mean you, taxi drivers!)

Posted by: PeterDM | October 17, 2010 4:51 AM | Report abuse

Washington Circle in Foggy Bottom! (K Street, New Hampshire Avenue, Pennsylvania Ave, 23rd Street).

The main problem is that drivers coming off of Pennsylvania Avenue rarely if ever obey the law that traffic entering the circle must yield right of way to traffic already in the circle. They just keep coming! (Yes, I mean you, taxi drivers!)

Posted by: PeterDM | October 17, 2010 4:53 AM | Report abuse

Washington Circle in Foggy Bottom! (K Street, New Hampshire Avenue, Pennsylvania Ave, 23rd Street).

The main problem is that drivers coming off of Pennsylvania Avenue rarely if ever obey the law that traffic entering the circle must yield right of way to traffic already in the circle. They just keep coming! (Yes, I mean you, taxi drivers!)

Posted by: PeterDM | October 17, 2010 4:56 AM | Report abuse

As a pedestrian, my path is constantly being obstructed and cut off by negligent drivers at Washington Circle in Foggy Bottom. I don't know why planners did such an awful job of planning for traffic - I can barely walk around the circle in ten minutes because there are so many cars in the way!

Posted by: Thomas7 | October 18, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

As a pedestrian, my path is constantly being obstructed and cut off by negligent drivers at Washington Circle in Foggy Bottom. I don't know why planners did such an awful job of planning for traffic - it's squeezed onto little sidewalks, I can barely walk around the circle in ten minutes because there are so many cars in the way!

Posted by: Thomas7 | October 18, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

As a pedestrian, my path is constantly being obstructed and cut off by negligent drivers at Washington Circle in Foggy Bottom. I don't know why planners did such an awful job of planning for traffic - it's squeezed onto little sidewalks, I can barely walk around the circle in ten minutes because there are so many cars in the way!

Posted by: Thomas7 | October 18, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

The ABSOLUTE worst intersection is down by the Convention Center, at NY Ave/Mass Ave and 7th Street. I don't know WHY DDOT won't do something with that horrible bottleneck. The lines in the road are barely distinguishable not to mention the layout doesn't make sense. Augggggghhhh! Just the thought of driving through it this evening makes me SICK!

Posted by: SickofMikeBaisden | October 18, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

How about any intersection where bikers think they don't have to stop at stop signs and traffic lights...

Posted by: rtorguson | October 18, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

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