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Bay Bridge Traffic

So I went to see my parents last weekend, which means I cross the Bay Bridge to get to the Eastern Shore. I've been doing this drive for the 12 years I've lived in the Washington area and I don't think I've ever had an easier time on a beautiful summer weekend than I did this past weekend.

I left work at 15th and L NW at 5:45 Friday afternoon (here's hoping my bosses don't read this blog), hit a little traffic in the District and then sailed right across the bridge and on to home. Yesterday, I left Onancock (on Virginia's Eastern Shore) at 4:45 p.m. and again hit zero traffic, even when I crossed the bridge around 7. Not only was I shocked not to hit any backups, but also, Route 50 wasn't even that crowded. I don't think I screamed at a single slow left-laner the whole time.

Anyone know what's going on here? Was I just incredibly lucky, is no one going to the beach anymore or have people learned to stagger their drive times?

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 10, 2006; 2:43 PM ET
Categories:  Getaway  
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I went to the beach over the 4th of July weekend. We left Sunday around 10am, and by the time we got to the Bridge, it was backed up for about 5 miles. For some reason one lane on the Eastbound only side was closed. We lost about an hour in traffic and thank goodness I had EZ-Pass, otherwise it would have been even more.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2006 5:32 PM | Report abuse

How sad that you have to be sheepish about leaving at 5:45 on a FRIDAY in the SUMMER!!

I hope that was merely literary effect ...

Posted by: julia | July 10, 2006 7:03 PM | Report abuse

not that long ago, my 2 hour OC trip took over 3 hours. Since then, the Kent Narrows bridge went in (used to be a drawbridge), the Cambridge bypass was built, and any number of other improvements were made. I remember parking my car on Kent Narrows when the drawbridge went up and walking down to the water for the 1/2 hour or so it took for traffic to start up again. So, count your blessings if the only backup you experience is a backup at the bay bridge!

Posted by: showing my age here but - | July 11, 2006 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I fly a traffic plane a few days a week, and I saw the same thing that you guys are describing. I think the "Go Early, Stay Late" campaign actually had an effect, people are so afraid to drive over the bridge at 6p on a Friday, that no one shows up, even Memorial Day Friday was not bad this year. The one thing I have seen though, is a standing (up to)8 mile backup on 404 between US 50 & Denton. But 50 itself has been in good shape. I believe the lane closure was some sort of emergency construction on the bridge.

Posted by: pilot_guy | July 12, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

We headed over to OC from Rockville last weekend. We left Rockville at 6:30pm, hit a little slow traffic (but moving) on the beltway between 355 and University Blvd. and no traffic the rest of the way. We have EZpass so we sailed right on through but I was surprised to see not more than 5 or 6 cars in a line waiting at the tolls to the bridge at 7:30ish on a Friday. I agree, people are either heading the ads of "Go Early, Stay Late" or doing this anyway because they are afraid of the usual backups. Out of curiosity, does anyone know how the bridge is between 4pm and 5pm? Maybe everyone is leaving work at 3 and it's backed up then. I think I will stick with the 6:30 departure time.

Posted by: Laura | July 14, 2006 2:13 PM | Report abuse

As a daily commuter across the Bay Bridge I have to admit that this year has been pretty good. I have noticed a lot of people seem to be starting weekends earlier, on Thursdays, which may help some of the Friday backups and Monday mornings I see a lot of Virginia tags heading west. One thing new that was started back before summer is every weekday afternoon they open up a 3rd lane to head to the Eastern Shore, that has helped out a lot! Its easy to see this because whenever that 3rd lane is closed (for weather or something) traffic is much slower. I have noticed that around 3pm on Friday's there seems to be a backup, which I believe is about the time that they open that 3rd lane and then it seems to dissipate after that. Between 4-6 you have alot of commuter traffic trying to get home, so its usually heavy. Best bet is to try to hit the bridge after 6:30. I never thought that the go early stay late advertising would work, but maybe it has.

Posted by: Rick | July 14, 2006 4:15 PM | Report abuse

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