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Drive vs. Drive

Transportation editor Steven Ginsberg and I got many responses to our test drive on Sunday's commuter page in The Post. We compared drives on parallel commuter routes from Columbia to Silver Spring. Steven took I-95 and I took the parallel course on Route 29.

BriggsChaney.jpg New interchange at Briggs Chaney helps ease congestion. (Robert Thomson)

Here's one letter.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I was fascinated by the article "Which Way" in the Sunday, Nov. 4, Washington Post, Page C2.

What would have been useful to know was how long each route was. Another thought is to add odometer readings along with the time and comments for the two different routes.

Note, I live in Charlottesville, Va., and work from home.
Distance commute: 30 feet (from bed to office);
Duration of Commute: 1 minute, unless there is a two-kid pile-up on the stairs.

Tim Roesch
Charlottesville

I can't give you a link to the commuter page, because it's a part of The Post that isn't reproduced online, at least not yet.

Steven drove 19.8 miles from Columbia to Silver Spring vs. my 18 miles. He reached the Beltway three minutes before I did, but then drove along the outer loop to the Georgia Avenue exit before heading south into Silver Spring. I just kept going south on Route 29.

Lockwood Drive.jpg But to the south are more traffic lights. (Robert Thomson)

I got to our breakfast rendezvous first, so most folks figure he let me win.

There was no prize. Steven was always going to buy breakfast. Our real goal was to be able to illustrate aspects of different commuter routes, and we didn't want to duplicate each other on Route 29 south of the Beltway.

One thing I did do was pick the more interesting route for myself. Maryland has converted many of the intersections north of New Hampshire Avenue into interchanges and the shoulders have been opened to commuter buses in some areas. Still, there are traffic lights, especially south of New Hampshire, where Route 29 shrinks temporarily from three lanes to two. (The photos here are from another day.)

I figured Steven would run into trouble on his approach to the Beltway and on the outer loop, which he did. I figured I'd run into trouble around New Hampshire, which I did. But an unusual thing happened: Just north of the Beltway, an ambulance swung from northbound Route 29 onto the southbound side, where an accident had occurred in the left lane. The ambulance stopped, blocking the middle lane, so there was just the right lane available to squeeze by the incident.

BurntMills.jpg Traffic often backs up north of Beltway. (Robert Thomson)

But I was at the front of the pack, so when I passed by the Beltway ramp, I was virtually alone -- an extremely rare event during a morning commute. Normally, the right side of 29 is backed up extensively as cars maneuver toward the outer loop ramp.

Readers seemed to like the idea of what we did: Picking two routes to get to the same place. We'll try it again on some other course. We've also been talking about varying the pattern, testing driving vs. transit, or maybe driving vs. transit vs. biking, as one reader suggested.

Got any test patterns you'd like to propose to us?

By Robert Thomson  |  November 6, 2007; 8:42 AM ET
Categories:  Driving  
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Comments

Tysons Corner to Downtown (or better yet, reverse). There are a few options: 123 over chain bridge, Rte 7 to 29 into Georgetown, 66 if you can get 2 people...

Posted by: two routes | November 6, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I was thinking that my neighborhood (Kingstowne) to downtown could be interesting because there are several different routes and it could confirm which is actually faster if done on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday (the three heaviest traffic days):

*Van Dorn north to Seminary, then I-395 over the 14th Street Bridge to downtown

*Van Dorn north to Seminary, then I-395 to VA-27 over Memorial Bridge, then across Independence Avenue

*Van Dorn north to Braddock, Braddock to Beauregard, Beauregard becomes Walter Reed and continues to Columbia Pike, then Columbia Pike to the Pentagon and on over either Memorial Bridge or the 14th Street Bridge

*Van Dorn south to Telegraph, Telegraph north to Duke Street, Duke Street east to US-1, US-1 north to either the 14th Street Bridge or Memorial Bridge

*Van Dorn south to Telegraph, Telegraph north to South Kings Highway, South Kings Highway north to US-1, US-1 north to either the 14th Street Bridge or Memorial Bridge

*Van Dorn north to Franconia, Franconia west to I-95, I-95 north onto I-395 to either 14th Street Bridge or Memorial Bridge

*Driving versus parking at the Franconia-Springfield, Van Dorn Street, or Huntington Metrorail stops and then riding to Metro Center

*Driving solo via any of the above routes compared to driving over to the "Bob's" slug line in Springfield and then using the I-395 express lanes

Posted by: Rich | November 6, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm a reverse commuter (live in DC, work in Loudoun County) and even though I drive 250 miles a week, I love my commute, since I'm almost never in a traffic jam. Still, I'd be interested to see a comparison of a reverse commute to a suburban location, versus a normal commute to the same location from an exurban starting point, like doing the same experiment from Sunday's Post except have the second car leave from DC instead of Columbia (or, in my case, my commute from DC to Sterling versus Leesburg or Middleburg to Sterling).

Posted by: Alex | November 6, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I-395 vs. U.S. 1, Woodbridge to the Pentagon (i.e., between the points where they intersect).

Posted by: Virginian | November 6, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

How about from Bowie to Tysons Corner?

Taking the Northern half of the Beltway through Montgomery County (sitting in the usual mess trying to get past Georgia Ave) and across the American Legion Bridge

vs.

Taking the Southern half of the Beltway (sitting in the jam at the WWB bottleneck) across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge

vs.

Continuing on Route 50 through the city (the New York Ave/3rd Street Tunnel nightmare)

vs.

Driving to New Carrollton and riding the Orange Line and buses to Tysons Corner.

Posted by: Bowie Commuter | November 6, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

How about Rockkville to downtown. One takes 495 south to GW Parkway to 395 to ? While the other goes 495 east to Connecticut or Georgia Ave (or 16th st) to the same place.

Posted by: dkf747 | November 7, 2007 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Oops on the 2 k's in Rockville. While I like my first suggestion better, I have one more similar to the 95 vs 29 one. Compare Rockville to Downtown with one using 270 to 495 south to GW Parkway to whichever bridge will take you to your predetermined destination. The other could go 270 to 495 south to Cabin John Parkway to Clara Barton to Canal Road to Whitehurst and so on.

Posted by: dkf747 | November 7, 2007 6:48 AM | Report abuse

How about biking vs. driving vs. Metro from NOVA to Northwest?

Or Bus vs. Metro vs. Bike vs. Car from Capitol Hill to Northwest?

My company has a bike commuter program and for both routes the cyclists have said they have shorter commutes but I have my doubts...

Posted by: Southeaterner | November 7, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

中国的政府太腐败--十年毒品害人。

家里的食物中含有大量的毒品。茶瓶底有许多白色粉末,米袋里有许多黑种子等。吃过饭后,头感到疼痛。放毒品的人用毒品害人的目的是让我和家人无声无息地从地球上消失。因为他们要报复我家。 中国的政府太腐败--十年毒品害人。

一九九八年四月三十日,江苏省盐都县郭猛镇护西村四组蒋瑞志被电力捕鱼周桂平捣残左眼。我妻被害有糖尿病、癫痫病、脑梗塞。我奶奶挂水后,不能走,后说帕金森病,骨瘦如柴死。我长时间眼睛挣不开,走路要跌伤。我女儿月经不来,不让上高中。老二左胸口痛,老二丈人癌症死。姑奶奶吐血看几天死。二怀子妻癌转移死,大怀子癌症。蒋满江妻儿癌症死。我奶奶的兄弟癌症死。证人哥哥房子烧了,侄女小宝掉水缸死。我干姐姐家小宝落水死。我妻嫂跌伤一骨未接,家中三人精神病,一人看后,有阳痿。蒋瑞虎感冒看后,乙肝病发。一人感冒打药死,二人睡觉死。蒋华妻出车祸,妹妹红斑狼疮。蒋亚妻精神病。我丈人跌伤腿骨裂,走路走不动,我妻哥哥双腿站不起来。蒋瑞虎感冒看后,乙肝病发。老姨奶奶脑梗塞,三姨奶奶女儿跌伤。老二出车祸,两手腕骨碎腿断赔千元。粮棉被偷,三亩偷掉二亩。父亲不知被杨三打的什么针死。老二办不到建房执照。蒋迎中癌症,蒋竹四糖尿病。郭乃国开两刀。葛和平外公和外婆死,老太出车祸死。 中国的政府太腐败--十年毒品害人

中国的政府太腐败--十年毒品害人。

Posted by: lingiait | November 7, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I thought the column was great! I'd love to see you do the Ashburn area to Tyson's Corner via the Greenway vs Route 7. I mean, is the Greenway really saving anybody time these days or is it simply draining our wallets? I've done both routes and it seems like a toss up to me....and I'd rather have the money each day...to pay for a gallon of gas!

Posted by: Pam | November 7, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

(1) Piggybacking on the previous poster's suggestion, how about comparing the drive from Ashburn to Tysons:

The first driver could use Ashburn Village Blvd to Route 7 all the way to Tysons. The second could use Waxpool Rd to 28 South to the Toll Rd east to Tysons.

(2) Or, speaking for my commute from north Reston/Dranesville to the Montgomery Mall area in Bethesda: (1) VA 193 all the way to I-495; (2) Route 7 to the Toll Rd junction at Tysons (entering at Toll Rd exit 16); (3) Reston Pkwy to the Toll Rd (entering at Toll Rd exit 12) to Tysons to 495 North. The short answer that I have found: it depends entirely on the day and, even more so, the exact time you leave the house in the AM and the office in the evening.

Posted by: xyv1027 | November 7, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

How about 270 vs. 355 from Fredrick or Germantown to Bethesda?

Or the East West Routes between PG and Montgomery counties vs. 495 (410, 193, Cherry Hill/Randolph Rd./Montrose Rd.)?

Posted by: Laura | November 7, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Bowie commuter, Speaking for what a friend of my typically does on a similar commute (halfway around the beltway from Fort Washington to Montgomery Mall Bethesda), I'd suggest going through the city may be quickest especially if you leave early in the morning.

He uses a slight variation of your route though, coming from Fort Washington: I-295 North to the 11th street bridge to I-395 South to the GW Parkway north to I-495 North to the 270 spur to Democracy Blvd.

When going through the city to get to Tysons and as an alternative to I-66 which is horribly backed up westbound most mornings through Falls Church, try GW Parkway north to 123 South to Tysons.

Posted by: xyv1027 | November 7, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Heading West towards Tysons or even Dulles, I almost always take GW parkway to 123 (instead of 66) at almost all times of the day. 66 West is just too unpredictable and I gladly sacrifice the potential couple minutes saved for the consistency of GW parkway and 123.

Posted by: DC 21 | November 7, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

中国的政府太腐败--十年毒品害人。

家里的食物中含有大量的毒品。茶瓶底有许多白色粉末,米袋里有许多黑种子等。吃过饭后,头感到疼痛。放毒品的人用毒品害人的目的是让我和家人无声无息地从地球上消失。因为他们要报复我家。 中国的政府太腐败--十年毒品害人。

一九九八年四月三十日,江苏省盐都县郭猛镇护西村四组蒋瑞志被电力捕鱼周桂平捣残左眼。我妻被害有糖尿病、癫痫病、脑梗塞。我奶奶挂水后,不能走,后说帕金森病,骨瘦如柴死。我长时间眼睛挣不开,走路要跌伤。我女儿月经不来,不让上高中。老二左胸口痛,老二丈人癌症死。姑奶奶吐血看几天死。二怀子妻癌转移死,大怀子癌症。蒋满江妻儿癌症死。我奶奶的兄弟癌症死。证人哥哥房子烧了,侄女小宝掉水缸死。我干姐姐家小宝落水死。我妻嫂跌伤一骨未接,家中三人精神病,一人看后,有阳痿。蒋瑞虎感冒看后,乙肝病发。一人感冒打药死,二人睡觉死。蒋华妻出车祸,妹妹红斑狼疮。蒋亚妻精神病。我丈人跌伤腿骨裂,走路走不动,我妻哥哥双腿站不起来。蒋瑞虎感冒看后,乙肝病发。老姨奶奶脑梗塞,三姨奶奶女儿跌伤。老二出车祸,两手腕骨碎腿断赔千元。粮棉被偷,三亩偷掉二亩。父亲不知被杨三打的什么针死。老二办不到建房执照。蒋迎中癌症,蒋竹四糖尿病。郭乃国开两刀。葛和平外公和外婆死,老太出车祸死。 中国的政府太腐败--十年毒品害人

中国的政府太腐败--十年毒品害人。

Yeah... what he said

Posted by: Tysons | November 7, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

From Manassas/Centreville into Tysons would be a good one. How do you avoid the crap that is Vienna? They seem to like to time their lights so that you have to stop there. Frankly, unless I'm asked to be someplace in Vienna, I don't go there. A lot of great restaurants I'd like to try, but the hassle of getting through there is worse than NYC during rush hour.

Posted by: Jarrod | November 8, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I could use your help. My schedule is being changed next month (I get no choice in the matter), and instead of commuting at the tail end of or after rush hour, I will have to be in by 9:30 most days and 9 a.m. on Thursdays. Metro doesn't work for a variety of reasons, and neither does a carpool. I've always taken the HOV lanes, since I've never had to be in earlier than 10, and I'm already having nightmares. My options are main line 395 to Washington Blvd/Key Bridge, or Guinea/236/Prosperity/50 to Key Bridge. The latter is 3 miles and usually about 15-20 minutes longer in off hours (40-45 minutes vs. maybe 25, barring accidents or whatever). But I have no idea how long either route is going to take that early in the morning, and I need to know which is going to work better and how much time to allow. Help!

Posted by: West Springfield/Burke to Wisconsin and M | November 15, 2007 9:04 PM | Report abuse

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