Commuting home from the Capital

February 13, 2008 at 10:05 pm (Family Life)

Yesterday, we had a winter storm.  Not a bad one, mind you, more of a wintry drizzle.  Most of the day it was around 32 degrees, and initially it came down as sleet and freezing rain, and then changed to all rain.  I got a ride at my normal slug line and we were on the road about 4:20.  I took a nap, which is normal for me.  I’m a polite slug, and usually try to sit in the back, since I know that I’ll be snoozing.  I also try not to snore or drool too much, either.  My internal clock (or some combination of bumps in the road) usually wake me a few minutes before we get to the commuter lot.  Yesterday, I was awakened by my cell phone buzzing (I said I’m a polite slug, and set it to stun).  I looked around, and we had barely gotten a mile down the HOV lanes.  It was also almost 7:00.

WHAT!  7:00.  What was going on.

Apparently, the new Springfield spaghetti interchange had experienced icing on all of the elevated roadways.  With one exception, they ALL are elevated through there.  The icing had led to accidents, including two jack-knifed tractor-trailers.  ALL of the highways there were blocked completely.  I distinctly remember an interview with a VDOT official, when the construction was just starting.  He was asked about heat strips for the elevated roads.  He was confident that the combination of liquid de-icer and abrasives that they used would be more than adequate.  I wonder if he’s still employed.

The driver eventually was able to get off at the nearest exit, and we wandered through several back roads that were almost as congested, but at least moving.  After a stop for gas and bathroom (by now it was after 8:00) we got back on the road, and I was scraping 1/4″ of ice off my windshield by about 9:20.  From there, the drive home took another half hour or so because of some traffic lights that were off, and the rain.

I finally walked in the door about 10:15.  Total time from leaving work to arriving home, 6 hours 15 minutes.  Google shows that the trip is about 35 miles.  I have driven to South Carolina – a 450 mile trip – in less time than it took me to go 35 miles yesterday.  For the last half hour, driving home from the commuter lot, I was trying to invent a plausible reason not to go to work today.  I couldn’t come up with one, so I ended up going.  I did check the traffic cameras before leaving today.  My trip today door-to-door was almost exactly 1 hour.  And that included a 20 minute walk to my alternate slug line.

It’s not like I don’t have options.  The Metro and VRE commuter rail are both closer than either slug line, and taking them really isn’t a big deal.  When I know that traffic is going to be hosed, I’ll usually take the VRE, and if I had checked before I left, I would have probably taken it yesterday.  Sure, it takes half-an-hour longer than my normal method, but only half-an-hour longer would have been great yesterday.

I’m definitely going to remember to check the traffic cameras before I leave work- at least for the next few weeks.



  1. Elaine said,

    Were you able to vote?

    I’d heard about the lousy weather you had, not good at all.

  2. capitalggeek said,

    I voted before I went to work, not that it mattered any….

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