Beltway, I Hate You

I love living in DC. It’s the most powerful city in the country. It’s like New York or L.A., but instead of being filled with annoying hipsters or wanna-be actors, you’ve got agents, spies, and political figures. The Metro, when it’s working, is great for getting around. Granted, it is showing its age and very possibly falling apart around us as we hurtle through its decaying tubes, but at least I don’t have to drive on 495.

Can I tell you how much I hate the DC Beltway?

No, really, can I?

I am an impatient guy by nature, so sitting there in traffic makes me want to get out of my car and run screaming the other way down the highway. People are like, “oh but you get to see that pretty Mormon cathedral and the Washington Monument and…” Yeah. I. Don’t. Care. If I wanted to see those things, I’d go to them. And as cool as the Washington Monument is, it isn’t really much to really look at, is it? It looks like a giant pencil stuck in the ground with two little eyes in the point. It doesn’t do tricks like the Empire State Building, and you don’t wonder how they built it like the St. Louis Arch or anything. It’s just…there. Of all the monuments in D.C., appearance-wise, it’s not that impressive. Sorry, George.

Wikipedia calls the 270/495 merge “highly complex” but we’ll just call it a stupid nightmare. That’s way more accurate. And then there’s the section between Georgia Avenue and Route 355 that has an average of 260 crashes a year. That’s one accident per weekday, give or take. Most places would have done something about that by now, but not us. Oh no. There are a lot of merges in the DC area that are merges of death but that one pretty much takes the cake. If your car dies or gets a flat, you best be getting out and going up past the shoulder and up onto some terrain, because you will get rear ended and possibly die otherwise. And if there’s an accident over there, and you probably will as there is one almost daily, you’re never getting where you need to be.

I tried to date a girl who lived in Maryland once. You want a good laugh, go look on googlemaps at the aerial view of exit 19B on the beltway going toward 50 W. It looks like a little kid drew out the roads with his or her eyes closed. I can’t even explain it. As shallow as this makes me sound, that relationship did not last, because I just couldn’t do the commute. Neither could she, to be honest. It was just…a nightmare.

I like to drive, or at least I did til I moved here. I was used to driving in some traffic, sure, but nothing like this. D.C. traffic is something you really have to see to believe, especially on the beltway. I’d much rather risk a crushing death in a Metro tunnel. The odds are much more in my favor to take the train. It’s just too bad it doesn’t run all the time.