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Forbes Says DMV Has Country’s 2nd Worst Traffic Congestion

I knew it wasn’t just me and here’s the proof: the DMV’s traffic congestion has been ranked 2nd worst in the country, according to Forbes.com.  And this year, we’re ranked  79th worst in the world, according to mapping and travel service TomTom.  Drivers in the DMV waste about 75 hours a year in traffic. At the height of rush hour, it takes us almost double the time to get anywhere!

Who is most affected?

Everybody!  It doesn’t just affect commuters.  Time wasted in traffic indirectly affects small/mid-sized businesses, large corporations, families, the federal government, local municipalities, and causes undue stress on everyone involved.

What can we do to resolve this?

Many solutions are needed, amongst those are strategically placed signage, increasing effectiveness of public transportation, better connectivity of major (and minor) routes, decreasing bottleneck areas that cause backups, and transit-oriented development in underserved areas.

There is no one solution.  Lots of solutions need to be deployed simultaneously to make a real difference.  It’s time for D.C., Maryland, and Virginia’s politicians to make decreasing traffic congestion a real priority – to partner with each other to decide on what is feasible, raise the money, and execute the plan (in a decent amount of time).

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Potholes Driving You Crazy?

Pothole

This year, we have been barraged with potholes due to all the extreme winter weather. These potholes not only drive us crazy because they keep our wheel alignments hopelessly out of whack, but there are so many of them that they are almost impossible to avoid!

Some unfortunate souls have even experienced tire blowouts or worse because of these nuisances. You may be able to get the city/county to pay for the damage if you make a claim.

It could take a while to fix them all, so we’ll have to exercise some patience (and maybe just put an extra wheel alignment in the budget for the next couple of months). Feel free to vent about your personal experiences or ones you’ve witnessed in the comments section.

To aid the entire effort, please see some online resources you can use to report those nasty, pesky, awful potholes. When filing your report, please provide the precise location, a picture (if possible), and the severity of the potholes.

Vaya con Dios!

 

D.C. (DDOT)

Dial 202-727-1000 or311 (if dialing from within the city), fill out an online request, or tweet @DDOTDC.

 

Maryland (State Highway Administration)

If the road is a numbered route such as Rte. 355, 117, please contact Maryland State Highway at 301-513-7300. You can also fill out an online request.

 

Montgomery County

See Maryland State Highway Administration above. You can also call the County at 240-777-0311 or 311 if you are calling from within the county. Or fill out an online request.

 

Prince George’s County

See Maryland State Highway Administration above. To report a pothole on a County maintained road, please call 301-499-8520 or fill out an online request.

 

 

Baltimore City (BCDOT)

Use Facebook, Twitter, call 311, or fill out a request form.

 

Baltimore County

Call 410-887-3560, e-mail highways@baltimorecountymd.gov, or fill out a request form.

 

Howard County

Contact the Highways Operations Division at 410-313-2900, by email highways@howardcountymd.gov, or fill out an online request.

 

Anne Arundel County

Call the Pothole Hotline: (410) 222-7045 or your appropriate road district.  Road districts are open from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  You may also report a pothole by email: potholes@aacounty.org

 

Virginia (VDOT)

To report any road maintenance issues, you can call 1-800-FOR-ROAD (1-800-367-7623), call 703-383-8368, or fill out an online request.

 

Arlington County

Call 703-228-6570 or fill out an online request. You can also report a problem on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Fairfax County

If there’s a pothole on a road you know is maintained by the county, then contact 703-877-2800 or see VDOT above.

What Would It Take To Improve Your Commute?

December 3, 2012 Leave a comment

In October, Washingtonpost.com’s Dr. Gridlock blog asked a very poignant question that I’ve been itching to answer for awhile now: Money or power what would it take to improve your commute?

Basically, the question is if there were no limits to how much money or power it would take to implement your ideas, what would you do?  I tried to reply on the comment board, but due to technical difficulties, couldn’t post there.  So, I decided to post my response here.  There are several ideas I would implement simultaneously because there is no “one size fits all” solution to this problem — it’s SO BIG! 

– Agree with Teacher26 on this: more strict driver education classes to teach new drivers etiquette as well as school them on the unwritten “rules of the road” (Slower Traffic KEEP RIGHT, Pass on the Left, Proper Merging Techniques, Turn Signals: They’re Not Just for Show, The Perils of Distracted Driving, How Not to Play the Part of the Idiot Driver, etc). 

– Execute a robust PSA campaign to educate already-licensed drivers who continue to practice bad driving habits and not obey the above unwritten “rules of the road”. 

– Extend all metro lines out to what is now considered the greater D.C. metro area and plan/build an additional system of metrorail lines that would allow for suburb-to-suburb commuting to/from dense urban greater D.C. metro areas. 

– Two-tier the entire length of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway/295 between cities and make both tiers three lanes each way. 

– Offer major mass transit routes to adequately connect the greater Washington D.C. and greater Baltimore metro areas together because they have both collided years ago. 

– Eliminate all HOV lanes wherever they exist as they are a waste of space. 

– Implement congestion pricing to control use of high-use roads/highways. 

– Expand high-speed rail so that we can commute to other cities up/down East Coast in two hours or less. 

– Build a tunnel from VA to MD along American Legion Bridge and add two-tier capacity to the bridge. 

– Build another tunnel connecting DC/MD for Metro’s blue line. 

– Build a 95 highway bypass so out-of-area traffic can stay off local highways.

– Incentivize more Fortune 500, 100, 50 employers to any part of P.G. County so that P.G.’s large white collar population no longer HAS to commute to Montgomery County and VA for a decent paycheck. 

– Provide more affordable family-size living options in VA and Montgomery County. 

– Implement more transit-oriented development all over using Metro as the basis.

– Mandate that employers provide more telework options whenever feasible so that there will be less need for commuting at all!  

These are just a few that I couldn’t wait to jot down.  If I gave it some more thought, I’m sure I could come up with many more — all of which are desperately needed, in my opinion, to combat what is now the worst traffic in the country

What ideas do you have?  What would it take to improve your commute?

Sharks — I Mean, Police — Everywhere (on the ICC)! Part I

October 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Shark Catching and Eating a Seal

Have you seen the Planet Earth Pole to Pole Episode that shows seals risking their lives daily by swimming across a shark-infested body of water off the cost of South Africa just to feed themselves?  Well, everyday I think of those poor seals and feel like I am one of them when I see police cars all up and down the Intercounty Connector (ICC).

“How can you compare your measly commute with those poor seals swimming for their lives,” you say?  Because, the ICC is literally crawling with MD Transportation Authority Police and Montgomery County Police cars everyday.  On both legs of my trip, I drive past someone that they’ve pulled over, everyday.  Most of the time, it’s probably for speeding.  You see, the speed limit on the ICC is only 55 mph.  That’s pretty low, in my humble opinion, for a tolled highway that is supposed to improve commutes across Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.

Officials claimed that this highway would “…increase community mobility… facilitate the movement of goods and people to and from economic centers…provide cost effective transportation infrastructure…”  They also said that, without it, the “ lack of mobility limits job opportunities, interaction between communities, and access to government and community services, and contributes to a decrease in the quality of life.”

Don’t get me wrong — it has done this, from what I understand.  But (please excuse me if I am about to offend anyone for saying this) it is almost as if we (commuters) are literally paying a hefty price just to be constantly monitored and harassed by police.

Feel that the term “harass” is too harsh?  I chose this word because the police presence is so overwhelming most times — more than I’ve ever seen on any highway I’ve ever driven.  Even if you don’t speed, it is alarming and unnerving!

If I didn’t know any better, I would think that the heavy ticketing is Maryland’s way of trying to recoup some of the costs of building the thing — sort of like a speed tax — like what D.C. seems to have finally admitted to.  I am assuming that most people are using it (just as it was intended), as a means to provide daily, reliable, predictable commute times.  But, here’s my thing: I didn’t sign up for or anticipate the overwhelming police presence and daily monitoring.  It’s downright menacing.

Do you feel that the police patrolling on the ICC is out of control?  Or is it on point in your opinion?  Don’t be shy, I wanna know what you think because I’m going somewhere with this.  Please weigh in below!

WTOP Beltway Poll Examines Transportation Hot Topics Among Area Voters

Poll Measures Public Opinion on New Potomac River Bridge Construction, Higher Gas Taxes, and Raising Area Tolls

Earlier this month, WTOP Radio 103.5 FM announced the results of its first WTOP Beltway Poll of 2012, conducted by Heart and Mind Strategies, measuring public opinion on a number of “hot topic” transportation issues across the Washington metropolitan area.

The poll reveals strong support of new Potomac River bridge construction, support of funding for area transportation projects, and strong opposition to higher gas taxes.  This comes in the wake of intense opposition to Governor O’Malley’s proposed gas tax hikes

The WTOP Beltway Poll includes the following findings on transportation issues across the Washington metropolitan area:

•59% of residents across the region believe now is the time to increase funding for transportation projects to help promote job growth and regional benefits from improved transportation.
•Two-thirds of area residents (67%) across the region support the construction of a new bridge across the Potomac River to help ease area traffic congestion.
• Support for new bridge construction is strongest among Maryland residents at 69% compared to 65% in Virginia and 58% of those polled in The District.
•Despite the support for increased transportation funding, 78% of those polled oppose higher gas taxes.
•The question of increasing area tolls divided public opinion with 46% in favor and 52% opposed.

“This in-depth look at hotly contested transportation issues is the first of our 2012 series of WTOP Beltway polls. WTOP conducts the polling through our partnership with the respected Heart and Mind Strategies to compare and contrast the views of voters in Virginia, Maryland and DC,” said Mitch Miller, News Director, WTOP Radio. “We look forward to sharing in-depth analysis on a variety of important issues on WTOP Radio and WTOP.com.”

The WTOP Beltway Poll polled 551 participants in the WTOP listening area from February 20 – 23, 2012. The comprehensive findings of the WTOP Beltway Poll can be found online at www.WTOP.com.

WTOP Beltway Poll Reveals One Hour Plus Commutes for Four in Ten Washingtonians

November 1, 2011 4 comments

Poll Shows DC Area Residents Face L-o-o-o-o-ong Daily Commutes Impacting Productivity, Health Issues & Quality Time for Area Families

Last week, WTOP Radio 103.5 FM announced the results of its most recent WTOP Beltway Poll examining local travel and traffic congestion issues for Washington metropolitan area commuters. The WTOP Beltway Poll, conducted by Heart and Mind Strategies, surveyed area residents across the Washington metropolitan region to measure average daily commuting times and the impact that growing commutes have on worker productivity levels, health and wellness issues, and quality time for area families to spend together.

The WTOP Beltway Poll, conducted by Heart and Mind Strategies, showed that 52 percent of those polled say that DC area traffic congestion is much worse than other major metropolitan areas. Of those polled, 40 percent blame population density as the main cause of traffic congestion, 33 percent blame insufficient infrastructure, and 12 percent blame existing road construction delays.

The WTOP Beltway Poll, conducted by Heart and Mind Strategies, includes these additional findings related to daily commute times for DC area residents:

  • Average round trip miles each day:
    • 32% 1-10 miles
    • 34% 11-30 miles
    • 15% 31-50 miles
    • 17% 51+ miles
  • Average round trip length of time traveling each day:
    • 32% 1-30 minutes
    • 29% 31 minutes -1 hour
    •  27% 1-2 hours
    • 11% more than 2 hours

WTOP will examine the poll findings more closely during upcoming stories on WTOP and WTOP.com. The WTOP Beltway Poll, conducted by Heart and Mind Strategies, was conducted by phone among 641 adults 18 and older in the WTOP listening area from October 10 -13, 2011. The comprehensive findings of the WTOP Beltway Poll, conducted by Heart and Mind Strategies, can be found online at www.WTOP.com. The margin of error for a sample this size is +/- 3.87 at 95 percent confidence.

If Drivers Have to Obey Traffic Signs, So Do Pedestrians!

Pedestrians Disobeying No Walk Sign

Something I’ve noticed lately is that many pedestrians don’t obey traffic signs.  I know you’re probably like, “wow, and drivers typically don’t obey them, either!”  But no, seriously, I didn’t really realize how bad pedestrians were with this until recently. 

As children, we were always taught in schools and by parents to obey traffic signals.  You were not to walk into the street without looking both ways first, and you were not to enter a crosswalk until the traffic sign permitted you to.  

But pedestrians these days seem to follow a different creed.  At the intersection of Rockville Pike and Marinelli Road(across from the White Flint Metro station), the pedestrians are irreverent and oblivious to the traffic signs.  Daily, I am prevented from making my right-hand turn onto Rockville Pike when it is my turn because pedestrians cross the road at inappropriate times.  

It almost begs the question: do pedestrians think that traffic signals only apply to drivers?  Do pedestrians feel that drivers should always give them the right of way, regardless of what the signal says?  

Rules of the Road by Dona Sauerburger, provides a simple explanation of the law that pedestrians (and drivers) need to follow in the D.C. metro area.  Basically, it says that pedestrians crossing an intersection on a crosswalk with traffic controls need to yield to drivers when the “don’t walk” or “upraised hand” sign is displayed.  

I don’t have a problem yielding to pedestrians when it’s their turn to cross the road.  But I’m just saying…when it’s my turn to go, can I get some reciprocity?  Fellow drivers/commuters: do you experience this while driving?  Please share your experiences!

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