Worst Week in Washington

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK - By Chris Cillizza

Ev­ery­one knows that traf­fic in Washington is ter­ri­ble.

From I-66 ( just two lanes? re­ally?) to the Belt­way (con­stantly crowded), Wash­ing­to­ni­ans view our con­ges­tion is­sues as part and par­cel of the D.C. ex­pe­ri­ence.

Heck, we even take a bit of per­verse pride in just how bad it is, a sort of we’re-No. 1-ism that rev­els in the clog and our hard-won knowl­edge about how to side­step it us­ing back roads, al­ter­nate routes and the oc­ca­sional bike path. A re­cent study out of Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity’s Texas Trans­porta­tion In­sti­tute showed Washington tied with Chicago for the worst com­mute in the coun­try, with driv­ers spend­ing an av­er­age of 70 — yes, 70! — hours stuck in traf­fic each year.

But this past week’s snow­storm — timed by na­ture to co­in­cide per­fectly with the le­gions of driv­ers leav­ing early to try to beat rush hour — tested even the most com­mit­ted of Washington’s com­muter class. Metro buses skid­ded out; Metro trains slowed to a crawl.

There was Denise Bor­ders, who spent 13 hours on the Ge­orge Washington Park­way, “just sit­ting for hours. Lit­er­ally. Sit­ting, not mov­ing.”

There was Shaun Ghol­ston, whose nor­mal 55-minute com­mute from Rockville to Capi­tol Hill took a tidy 11 hours and 19 min­utes. “It just felt hope­less,” Ghol­ston told The Washington Post. “Like I was never go­ing to get home.”

And then there was John Lisle, a spokesman for the D.C. Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, who calmed the crazed com­muters by telling them that the les­son the District govern­ment had learned from last year’s bliz­zard was “to man­age ex­pec­ta­tions.” Um, thanks.

Even get­ting home was cold com­fort — lit­er­ally — as the wet snow knocked out power (and heat) to hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple in the metro area.

D.C. com­muters, for watch­ing our traf­fic go from typ­i­cally bad to un­usu­ally aw­ful in just a few hours, you had the worst week in Washington. Con­grats, or some­thing.

Have a can­di­date for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail chris.cillizza@wpost.com with your nom­i­nees.

JAHI CHIKWENDIU/THE WASHINGTON POST

Cars were at a stand­still for hours on Baron Cameron Av­enue in Re­ston onWed­nes­day. Such scenes were com­mon across theWash­ing­ton area as a snow­storm hit at rush hour.

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