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Author Topic: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge  (Read 3139 times)

cpzilliacus

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WTOP Radio: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge

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New data show traffic on the D.C. region’s highways in May was not back to pre-pandemic levels, but it was getting close in some parts of the area.

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“I’m surprised by how fast, or how much that traffic volumes have recovered,” said Tim Canan, Planning Data and Research Program Director for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, or MWCOG.

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The organization has been tracking traffic volumes and patterns throughout the COVID-19 crisis, and April 2020 brought a major change.

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“Regionwide, traffic was down 50%,” Canan said. “That was the result of a lot of people teleworking, as well as a lot of job losses that were occurring as a result of the pandemic.”
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AlexandriaVA

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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2021, 09:16:07 AM »

Anecdotally, I've seen an increase; certainly on the I-395 corridor where I mostly drive. I've been back at the office for about a year.

What's remarkable is that a significant amount of federal offices are still telework-only. There's still a large pool of potential commuters out there.
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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2021, 09:19:52 AM »

I-95/MA 128 between US 3 and I-93 (Burlington/Woburn) is still clearer than before the pandemic. This is likely because there are so many office buildings visible from the road, and they're mostly work-from-home. On the other hand, inexplicably, I-93 north of MA 125 has been congested multiple times during the times when the breakdown lane is open.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2021, 09:23:48 AM »

Eyeball testing what I’ve seen in Fresno about 90% of the commute traffic has returned.  I actually just encountered my first CA 180 west to CA 41 northbound backup during rush hour in about a year and a half not long ago.  I would speculate from what I see from friends in the bigger cities that most of the commute traffic has returned there as well.
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Mapmikey

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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2021, 01:37:47 PM »

Anecdotally, I've seen an increase; certainly on the I-395 corridor where I mostly drive. I've been back at the office for about a year.

What's remarkable is that a significant amount of federal offices are still telework-only. There's still a large pool of potential commuters out there.

I am teleworking half-time these days as is most of my large federal facility in Bethesda.  I can still use the beltway from Bethesda to Virginia most afternoons (I stopped using this part of the beltway in the afternoon at all a little over 5 years ago).

HOT Lane tolls are creeping up a little bit but still only about 2/3 of what is was pre-pandemic.
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Dirt Roads

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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2021, 03:20:45 PM »

Last week, I got out in Chapel Hill/Durham rush hour on I-40 for the first time in years.  It looked like heavy almost-normal traffic, but even at 7:45AM traffic was already thinning out west of Chapel Hill.  Anyone in the DC area get a feeling that the morning rush hour is more compact (say perhaps 6:30AM to 9:00AM), rather than heavy from 5:00AM to 10:00AM?
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Mapmikey

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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2021, 03:45:43 PM »

Last week, I got out in Chapel Hill/Durham rush hour on I-40 for the first time in years.  It looked like heavy almost-normal traffic, but even at 7:45AM traffic was already thinning out west of Chapel Hill.  Anyone in the DC area get a feeling that the morning rush hour is more compact (say perhaps 6:30AM to 9:00AM), rather than heavy from 5:00AM to 10:00AM?

My commute starts at 5 a.m. and it is pretty close to pre-pandemic levels - busy but not many consistent big delays on 95 or the beltway inner loop
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NJRoadfan

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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2021, 04:21:16 PM »

What's traffic like mid-day? That's where I'm noticing the most change, a lot more people out outside of rush hour.
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BrianP

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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2021, 04:52:56 PM »

Anecdotally, I've seen an increase; certainly on the I-395 corridor where I mostly drive. I've been back at the office for about a year.

What's remarkable is that a significant amount of federal offices are still telework-only. There's still a large pool of potential commuters out there.

I am teleworking half-time these days as is most of my large federal facility in Bethesda.  I can still use the beltway from Bethesda to Virginia most afternoons (I stopped using this part of the beltway in the afternoon at all a little over 5 years ago).

HOT Lane tolls are creeping up a little bit but still only about 2/3 of what is was pre-pandemic.
The federal facility that I'm at that's nearby in Gaithersburg is still at mostly telework.  We're only allowed ~20% of people on campus at a time.  I haven't stepped foot on campus in .... 17 months.  The people I know who go on campus only go sporadically as needed.

The next stage sounds like it'll be something like requiring being on campus once a week or two-weeks.

So I think there's still a significant amount of people still missing from the roads here.

But my sister has also noticed the increase in traffic.
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Alps

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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2021, 06:30:01 PM »

NJ is mostly back to normal in the peaks, but the shoulder dropoff is much sharper, meaning volumes aren't high enough for peak spreading yet.

RoadPelican

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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2021, 09:04:39 PM »

What's traffic like mid-day? That's where I'm noticing the most change, a lot more people out outside of rush hour.

I usually work from 10 AM to 7 PM.  So I am driving into work at 9:30 AM, I live in Greensboro, NC.  We don't really have bad traffic here in GSO, but I will say that I have noticed a significant increase in traffic in the mid-mornings, probably at least 33% more.  Pre-covid, I remember traffic being fairly quiet from 8:30-11:30 in the morning.

Driving home at 7 PM, I have noticed "MUCH" heavier traffic early in the week, Monday and Tuesday night especially!!!  Pre-covid, again after 6 PM, roads were quiet.  Thurs-Sat night things were hoppin!!!  Then, driving home tonight it was pretty quiet for a Friday, much quieter than Monday!!! (than again maybe that was because last Monday was beginning of the month) (Aug 2) but still Mondays have been busier than normal since the beginning of 2021.
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Thing 342

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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2021, 02:28:36 PM »

Anecdotally I'll confirm others' observations that traffic during peripheral periods has not returned to the levels of the Before Times. On my recent trip to Pittsburgh we took the Beltway from I-95 to I-270 and it was completely free flow at around 10:30AM; previously there would have been at least a moderate backup between I-66 and the American Legion Bridge.

Where I'd say it's gotten worse than before is weekend traffic; the construction projects on I-95 on Fredricksburg have turned the entire area into an unholy mess Friday thru Sunday. It's looking like US-17 to US-301 over the Nice Bridge into Maryland might become my primary route to DC for the forseeable future.
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1995hoo

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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2021, 03:01:40 PM »

Asshole driving certainly has not decreased. This morning we were coming home from church via Taylor Run Parkway in Alexandria; the speed limit is 25, and if you exceed it, a midblock light turns red (I've tested it and confirmed it does), so I was going 25. Apparently that wasn’t fast enough for the jackass with Maryland plates behind me who decided the double yellow line didn’t apply to him and passed over it right at the midblock light. Of course, he just wound up directly in front of us at the next light at Duke Street, which prompted him to give us the finger.

Regarding traffic generally, I took the convertible out this afternoon and northbound I-95 was at a standstill as seen from the Fairfax County Parkway in Newington. No idea whether it was just volume or a wreck because the radio antenna isn’t working properly.
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Dirt Roads

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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2021, 04:59:10 PM »

Anecdotally I'll confirm others' observations that traffic during peripheral periods has not returned to the levels of the Before Times. On my recent trip to Pittsburgh we took the Beltway from I-95 to I-270 and it was completely free flow at around 10:30AM; previously there would have been at least a moderate backup between I-66 and the American Legion Bridge.

Where I'd say it's gotten worse than before is weekend traffic; the construction projects on I-95 on Fredricksburg have turned the entire area into an unholy mess Friday thru Sunday. It's looking like US-17 to US-301 over the Nice Bridge into Maryland might become my primary route to DC for the forseeable future.

Its funny, I gave up on I-95 to D.C. some twenty years ago.  Going east I would always use VA-207//US-301.  I also quit flying to New York, and took this same route up to BWI and took Amtrak up from there.  But when commuting from Central Carolina to Dulles (which I did off-an-on for 11 out of 14 years), I could somehow time it to catch the Shirley Reversible Lanes at the end of the HOV period and zip around the tail end of slogged traffic on I-95, then get off when I caught up with the rush and head northwest.  Most of the time, I would be ahead of the rush hour in Richmond by 15 minutes or so.
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Jmiles32

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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2021, 10:52:38 PM »

Based off of my DC-area driving experiences this summer, I would argee that traffic on I-95 is clearly where it was pre-pandemic both weekdays and weekends with an argument to be made that thanks to the ongoing Fredericksburg construction, that it is even worse now. Now obviously the completion of those Fredericksburg projects will help a lot. However, I predict even when those projects are done, you will still see frequent congestion along the whole corridor thanks to the ever increasing thru traffic. North of Fredericksburg you need either bi-directional HO/T lanes or the reverse peak direction hard shoulder lane idea. South of Fredericksburg to I-295 you need 8 general purpose lanes. Similarly to I-81 and I-64 in many places, there is just too much existing thru traffic here and widening would be the best option to address that.

On the other hand, I would argue that I-66, the road that seemingly carries the least amount of thru traffic still has a ways to go before it once again gets to pre-pandemic levels. Even with the ongoing HO/T lane construction, the improvements made thus far to the VA-28 interchange have helped tremendously. Lastly, I think that while recent delays on I-495 and I-270 are close, they are not quite yet equivalent to pre-pandemic levels. Will likely get there soon.

« Last Edit: August 09, 2021, 11:04:12 PM by Jmiles32 »
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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2021, 08:15:53 PM »

I 95 and 81 traffic is due to the pandemic…people NOT flying and NOT doing international or cross country travel instead are driving more regionally.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2021, 10:58:38 AM by bluecountry »
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Re: Traffic continues to grow on DC-area highways following pandemic plunge
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2021, 08:31:49 PM »

Chicago area traffic is close to normal especially evening but Metra the commuters trains are at just 25percent full. That would normally mean endless traffic not around normal so it's clear most people are not back.With delta I wonder if even the back to the office managers are having second thoughts.
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