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What Looks Better?

We talk so much here about commuting problems. From time to time, I like to ask for your views on what has gotten better. Now that you've had a chance to settle into the full-tilt September commuting pattern, have you found that any of the projects completed or programs implemented over the summer have made your travels any better?

Transportation agencies have completed projects large and small over the past few months. Probably the two biggest were the Springfield Interchange and the Frederick Douglass Bridge rehabilitation. Maryland wrapped up the big paving project on I-270 and made enough progress on the repainting of the American Legion Bridge that it was able to eliminate that vexing staging area that blocked the merge from the George Washington Parkway. The Briggs Chaney Road interchange on Route 29 was completed.

Virginia finished up its widening project on Linton Hall Road and the reconstruction of the Route 50/Washington Boulevard bridge.

Along the Beltway in Maryland, portions of the interchanges at Georgia Avenue and University Boulevard were rebuilt.

Metro opened up a new entrance at Silver Spring Station, making access more convenient for many people.

Did these efforts, whatever the scale, make a difference to you? Or do you want to send the planners back to their drawing boards?

By Robert Thomson  |  September 20, 2007; 10:58 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting  
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GW north to 495 in the afternoons is much better - huge difference in PM commute. But AM commute is much worse - toll road east to 495 and GW south to Key Bridge are worse than I remember.

Posted by: EW | September 20, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

The Rte 50/Wash. Blvd. project was just a reconstruction, not an upgrade. The road is now nice and smooth, but the merge from Wash. Blvd. (going toward Clarendon) onto Rte. 50 West is still short and dangerous, with no merge lane.

Posted by: Tom T. | September 20, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Agree with EW on both accounts - the morning slog down the GW is worse than ever but going home northbound is a great improvement.

Posted by: Eurekaj | September 20, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

The new configuration at University Boulevard hasn't had much impact yet (perhaps it's too early?) but what is going on east of the Beltway?! The construction zone originally had a completion date of November 2006, then December and then they just took the signs down. In the morning it backs up from after Riggs Road beyond New Hampshire Avenue; it can take 20 minutes just to move through this stretch. And for what? They're not widening the road, and the changes they're making to the median don't seem to deter pedestrians, who still cross in the middle of the block when they feel like it, even against the light. I'd love to see some attention drawn to completing this project, as it has had a serious NEGATIVE impact on traffic. Frankly, I saw the need for this project before the Beltway interchange.

Posted by: College Park Gal | September 20, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I have to say that I've already noticed an improvement on my morning commute on Metro due to the addition of 6 car trains on the Yellow line. The platform at the Pentagon isn't nearly as crowded and the trains aren't nearly as packed.

However, my metrobus situation seems to have gotten worse, after being very reliable over the years. In the last two weeks, my regular morning bus (that one could almost set his watch to) has been a no-show 5 times.

Posted by: LV | September 20, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Getting into the city from NoVA has been horrid the past few weeks (Key Bridge or Chain Bridge). Key Bridge is especially terrible this week.

Posted by: mclean | September 20, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

The new entrance at the Silver Spring Metro Station is awesome. A lot of people are using it!

Posted by: Ricardo | September 20, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

GW to american legion so much better (I'm using it in the morning so the barriers had turned a normally pretty good commute to something horrible).

Posted by: k | September 20, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Inbound I-395 in the mornings seems to be slower than it's been in past years, and the odd thing is that other than minor repaving, nothing has changed on that road. I haven't taken the 14th Street Bridge in the past two weeks except on Friday mornings--too many rude people making my blood pressure go up if I go that way.

Posted by: Rich | September 20, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Toll Road west to VA 28 North has seen a marked improvement since the light at Innovation Ave was taken out. Between that and the opening of the interchange at 28 and Sterling Blvd has made the evening commute better.

The mornings, however, are a different story... my 45 minute commute to just beyond Tyson's has turned into a 90 minute commute if I dare leave any time after 6:45. The mornings that I can coordinate a carpool are only marginally better. Taking rt 7 east is comparable, even with the additional traffic signals.

Posted by: Ashburn | September 20, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Agree with earlier commenters that morning commute on GW Parkway to get to Key Bridge and beyond is worse than in recent memory. Problem stems from Key Bridge inbound backing up across its entire span and onto the GW Parkway. Backups are also bad along Canal/Foxhall to get past Whitehurst and Key Bridge. Can something be done at what clearly seems to be the problem spot -- the lights and or construction and or whatever else is not right where Canal, Whitehurst, Key Bridge and M St. all come together?

Posted by: Dan | September 20, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Rosslyn gets gridlocked in the morning now too since Key Bridge completely backs up into Rosslyn. This week the afternoon commute down GW Parkway backed up to 123 and beyond every day except Monday. Unfortunately, no radio station reports that GW Parkway is backed up in the afternoon (it's usually free flowing), so more people get stuck there.

Posted by: Jason | September 20, 2007 7:41 PM | Report abuse

The new auxiliary lane on SB I-270 from I-70 to Rt. 85 has helped ease congestion through that section in the mornings. Now if it could be extended about 8 miles further, say past the truck scales . . .

Posted by: Cygnus | September 20, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

A general observation in DC. I get the feeling that one culprit for extra backup is the fact that the weather has been so nice. Nice weather = more pedestrians and more pedestrians = slower traffic for cars. I've lived here for most of the last 4 years and I really can't remember the weather ever being so pleasant for such and extended period of time for walking.

Posted by: Foggy Bottom/Downtown | September 21, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Not as many tourists and young interns on the Metro. That's about as good as it gets.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | September 21, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Foggy Bottom Downtown hit a nail right on the head. Whenever the weather is extra nice on a weekday, the afternoon commute is often horrible...and whenever the weather is extra nice on a weekend, I can forget about finding a parking space in my neighborhood since everyone is parking there to go to the zoo (thankfully zone permits save us from this deluge during the week). Part of the congestion problem is pedestrians, but part of it is more cars as well, especially in Georgetown. And when Georgetown traffic backs up Key Bridge, that backs up GW Parkway, which causes Chain Bridge to get slammed with bypass traffic, which eventually ripples over to the 14th Street Bridge. I assume many people going to DC for the evening drive, and I don't blame them because late night Metro service sucks. And Catoe suggests eliminating late night Metro service on weekends...ugh.

Posted by: Woodley Park | September 21, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Although I don't do the drive south on GW in the mornings anymore since changing jobs, didn't the ramp from GW South to the Key Bridge into Georgetown use to be blocked off during the morning rush?

If the Key Bridge (and more specifically the signals over on the DC end of the bridge) are the culprit for delays on the GW, maybe folks should rethink the opening of this ramp? Closing the ramp did force everyone downstream on the GW, but at least you don't have the signalized intersections immediately at the DC end of the Roosevelt bridge.

Agreed. RE: lack of traffic reporting on the GW South in the afternoons. There is none! (The focus ALWAYS seems to be the inner loop from Tysons Corner and I-95 South in VA.) On the one day per week that I go from Bethesda (Montgomery Mall area) to Pentagon City in the afternoons, I either leave early and use Chain Bridge from Clara Barton (its much easier on your blood pressure), or, I bail off GW at 123 and use Old Dominion Drive down towards Lorcom Lane/Spout Run... again more relaxing and predictable.

Posted by: Missing something? | September 21, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I've been completely surprised by the lack of delays in the afternoon going south on 495 back into VA. Even with the widened ramp to the Toll Road, delays mounted here over the summer, probably because of concerts and events at Wolf Trap. Now that summer is over, the evening commute is fine down to the exit at the Georgetown Pike. (Just beyond my exit, traffic begins to bog down, but the culprit of the delay is no longer the Toll Road exit... at least not on most days.)

Posted by: Reston to Rockville commuter | September 21, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

It occurs to me that the widening of I-66 from Manassas to the 234 bypass greatly improved the traffic flow out beyond Centreville in the afternoons. It still gets snarled for the short distance out to Gainesville, but it's much better than it used to be.

Posted by: Rich | September 21, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Seven Corners in Fairfax Co. remains a nightmare morning and evening. 395 North from the GW to Route 1 - just across the bridge! - remains a crapshoot 24/7. Any word on a planned fix for the sinkhole developing on 395N in the center left lane shortly before the Route 1 split?

Posted by: ~sg | September 21, 2007 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Strongly agree with the above poster about University Blvd at the Beltway and Langley Park. MD's priorities were in the wrong place on that one.
The yellow line extension to Fort Totten has been a nice touch, as has the repaved 270, and completed Briggs Chaney Road interchange.

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