I've been out of pocket for the past couple of days, on another business trip to D.C. Thankfully, the trip was a productive one, although there were some of the ususal hassles, including the traffic. After flying into Reagan National Airport on Tuesday afternoon, I drove south for a quick visit with an old friend at Quantico.
When I first began traveling to the D.C. area in the 1980s, I learned to expect heavy traffic and unpredictable conditions inside the beltway. If there's a tie-up on the Wilson Bridge or 395, you're going to be there for a while, no matter what time of day it is. But, if you were traveling south of D.C. on I-95, you could expect that traffic would eventually thin out, and you could travel at a "normal speed." Back in those days, that point was around Springfield, VA, about 15 miles south of the city.
Alas, those were the good old days. Today, the "D.C. crush" begins at Dumfries, VA (30 miles south of the nation's capitol, and on a bad evening, the south-bound slowdown extends past Quantico. Catching up with my friend made the trip worthwhile, but the 80-minute drive was a real bear. My hat's off to those steely commuters who make the trek into D.C. every day, but I'm thankful my career has kept me outside the beltway. I have a lot of friends who love D.C. and the "excitement" of working at those three letter agencies. Not for me. That daily commute alone is more than I can bear. Add in over-inflated real estate, higher taxes, high crime (in some areas), and those are plenty of reasons to avoid the district, and its adjoining suburbs.
One of the few things I like about D.C. (and the local government) is the Metro System. I learned a long time ago, if you've got business downtown, fly into Reagan, get a hotel in Crystal City, then take the metro into the city. The Metro may be one of the few things in D.C. that actually works.