DC commuters would be wise to avoid seven highway segments on the day after Labor Day, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Data from the Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory at the University of Maryland and the Metropolitan Area Transportation Operations Coordination Program show that these seven highway segments will experience significantly greater congestion compared August.
Familiar DC Chokepoints
Area motorists should already be very familiar with the following chokepoints:
- I-270 in Maryland from Capital Beltway (I-495) to I-70
- I-66 from Potomac River (DC) to US-17
- I-395 from the Springfield Interchange or the “Mixing Bowl” (I-495) to the Third Street Tunnel
- Virginia State Route 267 from I-66 to the Leesburg Bypass
- The Capital Beltway Counterclockwise (Outer Loop)
- The Capital Beltway Clockwise (Inner Loop)
- I-295 (including I-695) from I-495 to the Third Street Tunnel
Traffic Gets Worse in October
Commute times and congestion have consistently increased heading into October.
“Terrible Tuesday signals the return of 60 percent of area commuters driving to work alone at least three days a week, and the return of 1.9 million vehicle trips per workday in Washington, D.C., which ‘tops the list of gridlock-plagued cities.’ On the day after Labor Day, and throughout September, and then into October, the breathing space we enjoyed in our egressions on area freeways during the workweek and weekends in July and August will be in short supply.”
Approximately half of all delays are attributed to non-recurring congestion caused by events such as collisions, disabled vehicles, work zones, weather and special events. Other variables, including the beginning of a new school year, also contribute to increased travel times and delays as students return to the classroom.
Shock to the System
In Maryland, public schools begin class after Labor Day. In Northern Virginia and DC, most public schools started class in the weeks before the holiday. As much as 30% of morning traffic can be generated by parents driving their children to school, according to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.
“After a summertime respite, it is a shock to the system. Each year, morning travel delay consistently jumps by 15 to 45 percent between August and September. That is likely to happen this September too,” said CATTL Director Michael Pack.
CATTL and MATOC tracked data about aggregate delays on the region’s freeway system during the 31 days of August 2017 and the 30 days of September 2017.