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Why I hate Driving in DC

Tell me how fun does that look??? Not very let me tell you. I was stuck in this mess for FOUR hours last night. That’s right FOUR hours to get from my office to the babysitter. I left at 4:45 and didn’t get Khalil until after 9pm. Disgusting. Here’s another little visual to show the distance – it’s all of 10 miles.


I didn’t even get to vote (which was probably the biggest heartbreak of the night for me. It’s still raining with snow for tonight’s communte. Let’s just say I’m leaving at 3pm!!!! In case you want to read the “Ice Storm of 2008″story I’m going to add it too.

Freezing Rain Shuts Major Highways

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 13, 2008; Page A01

A sheet of ice that covered much of the Washington region late yesterday closed major highways, caused dozens of accidents, left commuters stranded for hours and caused some would-be voters to miss making it to the polls.

“It’s a mess,” said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller, who said police had 55 accidents to investigate at 8:30 p.m.

The freezing rain started just after 3 p.m., and it didn’t take long to create one of the region’s most miserable commutes in recent memory, with reports of scores of accidents, the closure of the region’s largest highway interchange and motorists stuck for hours on roads that were as slick as a frozen lake. The freezing rain was expected to continue overnight, but temperatures were forecasted to rise by the morning rush hour.

One motorist left work an hour early to vote and ended up stuck in traffic for two hours; he missed voting by three minutes. For other commuters, icy roads, accidents and closed ramps made trips long and dangerous. There were reports of hours-long backups across the region. Route 50 was backed up from the Bay Bridge to Crofton. A trip from Ashburn to Springfield took 1 1/2 hours. Many of the 50 ramps and bridges of the Springfield interchange, which handles 430,000 vehicles a day, were closed to traffic for hours.

“It’s ‘motorist beware’ out there,” said Lon Anderson, spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, as he came to a rolling stop on the Beltway about 6:30 p.m. “The biggest surprise was when I turned on my wipers and it just spread a sheet of ice across the windshield, and I couldn’t see a thing. I had to put my window down and stick my head out the window.”

In Maryland, a six-car pileup shut down the northbound ramp of Route 210 leading to Interstate 295 in Oxon Hill for several hours, Maryland State Police spokesman Cpl. Anthony Washington said. Washington said there were no serious injuries in the accident.

Earlier in the day, the Virginia Department of Transportation was monitoring reports of storms that were expected to hit well west and north of the Washington area. But, in part because of the presidential primary, the agency sent out 278 trucks to salt major roads and highways anyway. Morris said the speed and amount of the precipitation caught everyone by surprise. “Things just went to hell in a handbasket with the roads,” she said. “It started sleeting over and icing very quickly.”

Things seemed to fare better in the District, where crews were out earlier treating the roads. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) who took heat for poor snow removal in the first storm of his administration, pledged to do better. Still, there were about 15 accidents in the District between 2 and 6 p.m., injuring 12 people, authorities said.

Brandon Peloquin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, said the freezing rain was caused by warmer air on top of colder Arctic air.

“We have warm air aloft. That’s why rain is falling. But near the ground, the temperatures are below freezing,” he said. Peloquin said he expected more freezing rain overnight until the Arctic air is pushed from the region this morning.

Virginia State Police noted about 10 mid-afternoon accidents near the Springfield interchange, where Interstate 395, Interstate 95 and the Beltway meet. Within a half-hour, spokeswoman Geller said, the number of accident reports spiked to 50.

Prince George’s County police said that by 5:30 p.m., they were working at least 10 accidents across the county, one with serious injuries. Eastbound Route 50 was shut down in Anne Arundel County due to icy conditions on an overpass.

Other roads, ramps and interchanges closed or partially closed included Interstate 66 and the Beltway, I-66 and Route 29, and I-95 and the Prince William Parkway. In Maryland, Bladensburg Road was closed for a time. Most were reopened by late evening.

In Montgomery County, Route 355 was closed in both directions between Chestnut Street and Fulks Corner Avenue in Gaithersburg. Police a
lso closed Great Seneca Highway between High Gables Drive and Kentlands Boulevard after a collision that might have been caused by ice, Montgomery Police Officer Melanie Hadley said. A portion of Route 29 near the border between Montgomery and the District in Silver Spring was closed because of an icy bridge, police said.

Prince William County police said they dealt with numerous accidents and road closures, which police spokeswoman 1st Sgt. Kim Chinn blamed on ice on ramps and bridges.

The same was true in Loudoun County, where school officials dismissed classes an hour early because of the weather. Icy conditions caused multiple accidents on several roads, including Route 28 and the Loudoun County Parkway, said Kraig Troxell, spokesman for the Loudoun Sheriff’s Department. “Between, like, 3 and 4 we worked, like, 10 accidents, basically in the Sterling area . . . mostly fender benders,” he said. “That’s unusual, because usually we have issues in the west, with some of the more rural roads. You can’t treat the roads before anything falls, and then it was unexpected.”

The weather also created problems for voters heading to the polls after work. The drive to the polling place at Leisure World of Maryland in Silver Spring was “scary,” said Joan Reynolds, 67. “But I was determined to vote.”

In Arlington County, a regularly scheduled School Board meeting was cancelled, but polling stations at schools remained open.

Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman David Buck said crews were out all day salting Maryland roads, but bridges and overpasses were 2 to 3 degrees colder than surface roads and froze quickly when precipitation started to fall. “The reality is: The sun started going down, it clouded over and those couple degrees made all the difference,” Buck said.

“The timing in the Washington region can’t be any worse.”

By late evening, conditions seemed to be improving, and road officials were getting a better handle on the situation. Route 50 eastbound had been completely opened, and VDOT had opened the high-occupancy-vehicle lanes.

The treacherous conditions led some to give up on voting altogether.

“I’ve been doing this commute for 20 years, and all the signs look really bad,” said Marc Bergeron, a computer programmer who works in Herndon and lives in Bethesda. “When you walk where there’s no salt, you slip.”

He made it to the car, but, after seeing backups on the Dulles Toll Road, he gave up on the drive and on voting. He decided to take in a movie instead. “I was thinking I might be able to sneak it in,” Bergeron said. “I would have voted for John McCain.

Comments

  1. Oh ick, that sounds miserable. I used to live in DC and so I know exactly what you mean!

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