Tag Archives: DC traffic

Local lingo: The Mixing Bowl

10 Dec

The newly constructed interchange map (blue), superimposed with the old interchange map (red). Thanks to creative commons user MPD01605.

Have you ever been driving on 495, 395, or 95 and suddenly found yourself on the wrong freeway? If so, I bet it was in the Mixing Bowl. Officially known as the “Springfield Interchange”, the Mixing Bowl is where these three roads collide in Virginia. It’s one of the busiest highway junctions in the U.S. (which isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s ever driven through it). On the Beltway (aka 495) the interchange is at exit 57 and exit 170 on interstate 95.

As confusing as the Mixing Bowl is, it used to be much worse before reconstruction. There used to be lots of weaving and merging as local and long-distance travelers drove around each other. Constructed in the 1960s, the interchange was supporting much more traffic than it was designed to, and accidents were common. Reconstruction started in 1994 and was finally completed in 2007. And though it’s much better now, you still need to stay alert when you find yourself in the Mixing Bowl, lest you want to be lost. I still find it amazing how intense the Mixing Bowl is but, just like with the Wilson Bridge, I really shouldn’t complain.

What the gripe: DC traffic

9 Nov

If you ask someone in DC how far someplace is, they’re not going to give you mileage, they’re going to give you two times: one with traffic and one without. And if you’re driving somewhere, you should generally give yourself an extra half an hour to get there, particularly if you need to park. Even if it’s a Sunday afternoon or 2 am in the morning, give yourself half an hour. And that still might not be enough.

DC always ranks in the top four cities with the worst traffic. It seems like there’s always something causing gridlock: rush hour, construction, an accident, vacation traffic, weather, etc. And don’t get a DC area resident started on local drivers. They love to talk about how bad they are. (“Why can’t these people drive in the rain? It’s just rain!”) And you’ll hear complaints that either Maryland or Virginia drivers are the worst (The Express asked this question in a poll; Maryland won the honor).  What personally irks me the most is when I hear tourists complaining. (“I could never live like this!”)

With an ever-increasing population, DC’s traffic woes aren’t going to end anytime soon, so I suggest getting some books on tape.