August 30, 2011

Four People, Three Lanes, Two Douchebags, One Long Night

Today is once again brought to you by the words vacation, hurricane and evacuation.

When the evacuation order went out and we made the last-minute call to head for higher ground, it was 7:30 in the evening. At minimum, it's a three hour drive home and if you have kids you should just multiply that by two. We packed all our stuff at a rapid clip and hit the road by 8:30. And we flew. Owen fell asleep, Mia watched a movie and no one needed to pee. One stop and we were home. Almost.

The DC area roadways - specifically those in Northern Virginia where we live - are going through something of a transformation. That's a nice way of saying they look like a deeply flawed civil engineer with a loose grip on reality designed our roads. Because of countless projects some genius thought should go on simultaneously - including the expansion of highways, creation of "hot lanes" and the extension of our subway system - everything is seriously screwed up. The worst offender is the Capital Beltway, a gigantic eight-lane road that circles the DC area.

On Thursday night we evacuated the beach and headed for home. We made great time. Until we hit the Beltway. Three of the four lanes were closed for night work. Everything ground to a halt. It took an hour to go three miles. Owen woke up and was miserable. Mia had questions about hurricanes.

Me: They better be doing a lot of work.
Beth: I hope there's an army of guys up here - wherever - working their asses off.
Me: This sucks.

And for all the gridlock it caused, there were precisely two guys wearing hard hats leaning against a pickup having a cigarette. Three lanes. Two guys. Three hours.

Posted by Chris at August 30, 2011 7:22 AM

Oh that makes me so mad!

Posted by: Maribeth at August 30, 2011 9:38 AM

The lack of people working is the part that irritates me every time I drive past the construction... morning, day, night, weekday, weekend... there are never enough people to account for the amount of destruction and equipment. No wonder its taking forever!

Posted by: Lisa at August 30, 2011 10:58 AM

Dude, that sucks. I live in L.A. so I know that experience intimately.

Posted by: Brooke at August 30, 2011 11:47 AM

I feel you... We once hit a backup on 95, just south of Springfield... backed up for 10 miles or so... When we got up to the 2 lanes that were closed by rolling trucks with the blinky arrows, in front of them was a pickup with some dudes in the back. And in front of them, walking, were 2 dudes with buckets of tar, DRIPPING IT WITH BRUSHES INTO CRACKS ON THE ROAD...

Posted by: Sue R at August 30, 2011 12:13 PM

Are you sure you weren't in Pennsylvania??? That definitely sounds like a PennDOT worksite. ;-)

Posted by: Krush at August 30, 2011 12:24 PM

"they look like a deeply flawed civil engineer with a loose grip on reality designed our roads"

i got a good laugh out of that statement.

the roads and construction in and around DC are out of control. after the earthquake fed gov't early dismissal, local officials were shocked about the traffic backup. happy to hear that you had good drive for the rest of the journey...sometimes those roads can be as bad as the beltway!

Posted by: laurs at August 30, 2011 1:40 PM

When we lived in Alexandria, we avoided the Beltway like the plague. People would tell me about restaurants or shops I should check out and I'd get all, "Oh, it's outside the Beltway? Yeah, I don't think so..." I also grew up on Long Island, where road construction blossoms overnight and any trip out of state involved a bridge or tunnel. Surprisingly, I don't hate to drive. But I do hate the senseless traffic/road closures. I'm glad the only traffic you hit was there and that the storm didn't get you.

Posted by: Annie at August 30, 2011 3:54 PM