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Are You Driving Less?

Three transportation items today will interest you:

1) Staff writer Chris L. Jenkins says that, according to a study released today by the Metropolitan Council of Governments, our traffic may be loosening up. That's not because we figured out something new about traffic management or got more solo drivers out of their cars and onto transit. No, Jenkins writes, this comparison of traffic in spring 2005 and 2008 more likely reflects the recession and the higher gas prices.

Commenters here on the blog and letter writers to Dr. Gridlock have debated this for more than a year. Some thought they detected breaks in the traffic on their routes, but this is tough for even steady, longterm commuters to track. Traffic patterns can vary somewhat from week to week. Drivers who use the same routes often see the patterns differently.

2) The Post also has a map pinpointing the 10 top choke points in the region, according to the Council of Governments, which used an aerial survey. I think travelers will look at the map and pretty much say, Duh, of course. But tell me if you are amazed to see anything left out of the top 10. All major jurisdictions are represented on the list.

I said above that traffic patterns can vary somewhat, but the bottlenecks identified in the study are the stuff of legend.

3) This last one goes to the eternal tension between drivers and transit users: Staff writer Katherine Shaver says Maryland transportation officials plan to build the Purple Line transitway in part with money originally destined for two road projects, one of which would have widened 10 miles of Routes 28 and 198, while the other would have widened about three miles of Route 3. (See her story here.)

Shaver also picked up on the fact that state documents submitted to the Council of Governments describe the Purple Line solely as a light rail line, suggesting that the state has stopped considering a bus rapid transit line, though no formal announcement has been made. (Bus rapid transit is a great concept with many potential applications. Longtime readers know that I've favored the light rail version of the Purple Line, even though it would be more expensive than the bus system.)

By Robert Thomson  |  May 20, 2009; 2:03 PM ET
Categories:  Congestion , Driving , transit  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Traffic Alert: Delays on Southbound Kenilworth Ave. NE, Balt.-Wash. Pkwy.
Next: Ramp Closings on Beltway in Virginia


I guess the Wilson Bridge project is working.

Posted by: JRosen23 | May 20, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I-495 inner loop from I-395 to I-66 from 7:30 AM to 9:15 AM was not on that list. I'm also a bit surprised that I-95 through Lorton (northbound in AM southbound in PM)was not on this list.

Posted by: Russtinator | May 20, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: I think that the Wilson Bridge got a dispensation from the Top 10 list in this spring 2008 survey because of the continuing construction. The study did find that there was heavy congestion on the Beltway on both sides of the bridge.

Completion of the new bridge has definitely helped traffic, but a bottleneck remains on the outer loop at Telegraph Road, and that will continue till near the end of this massive construction project.

Posted by: rtthomson1 | May 20, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to the people responsible for the median on Rte 110 near the Pentagon filled with red poppies in bloom for Memorial Day - National Park Service, VDOT, Defense Department, Adopt-a-Median volunteers?

The poppies are exceptionally stunning, especially in bright sunlight and waving (or blowing? - even if they are not between crosses) in a slight breeze.

I suspect that slowing down to enjoy them does a better job in reducing speeding than painting zig zag lines on the road.

If you haven't seen them, don't miss this, they don't stay in bloom very long.

Posted by: jdiloreto | May 21, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

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