“It was crazy around Tyson’s last week!”
“Oh, you have no idea. It took me an hour to take a left into…”
Yes, the holiday season can aggravate traffic, and easily fan the flames of already aggressive drivers. We’ve all seen it.
In my world, you should know that commute times influence home purchase decisions every day because no one really wants to make their lives a total hassle, especially if they can simply make a few smart decisions.
That factor alone is why McLean house prices are higher… “one light to D.C” is pretty appealing when you have been schlepping in from South Riding for a year or two.
Vienna’s easy access to Tysons, Reston, and Fairfax, or access to the Orange Line or Silver Line Metro into D.C. has fueled real estate values.
And the bottleneck that clients give me an earful about most is Interstate 66 (I66) and its daily grind on drivers who seethe at the mere thought of it.
Interestingly, the primary I66 bottleneck between the Beltway and the western United States was missing from Ashley Halsey’s article in The Washington Post. Hmm?
This is a regional bottleneck
There is a three mile stretch of I66 that tapers down to get under the oldest Interstate Highway overpass bridge in the region. It impacts east bound traffic in the morning and west bound traffic in the afternoon. VDOT and the Virginia State Police have extensive records of accidents at this spot almost daily… years of accidents.
One way I picture this bottleneck is like a heart attack patient. Your smart cardiologist has just told you that you suffer from Coronary Artery Disease and the blood flow to your heart is causing your health problems. Well, you’re probably gonna try and fix that, right?
Stay with me, I understand that fixing the highway isn’t a life or death thing, but, if you miss your kid’s performance or pick up late at daycare, then it can be as physically traumatic.
All Northern Virginia drivers recognize the I66 and Route 123 interchange. Gone are the twelve foot lane widths, the ten foot break down lane, or inside shoulder area.
The little old overpass at 123 and I66 is the bottleneck
VDOT has tried medication, such as “the red road” and, recently, a high-tech lane control system.
Sorry folks, but it is time for some surgery.
VDOT is actively working with the public to expand the road to meet current and future capacity. All meeting appear to emphasize adding toll lanes to accommodate current and future western development such as the region has experienced along the I95 corridor.
Although I66 has almost none of the economic characteristics of I95, tolling and public transportation options are the forgone solution of resolving traffic flow theory with our generation of poorly funded state transportation agencies. As a taxpayer, I see replacement of this one bridge and using existing highway property as the most immediate and impactful project in the region.
Today’s home buyers in Fairfax County now work in areas not directly tied to the D.C. employment hub. Tysons, Reston, Springfield, the Dulles Corridor and the Route 28 corridor absorb considerable traffic in the daily commute.
My real estate clients who work in D.C. intentionally didn’t dare live too far west of Vienna or Oakton, and most skip the Metro due to overcapacity issues. Yes, they drive into D.C. because it is faster and often less expensive. Money x Time =…
(One attorney friend, opting to ride the Metro, had a very public meltdown on Facebook one recent Monday)
A key strategy to help my clients focus their home search is to look at where they work, and then the options for getting to work. Sorry, there almost isn’t a reverse-commute option here like there was in the 1990’s – the economy is just doing too well. Preservation of long term real estate values is critical to the strategy.
An insider tip specifically involves the long term projections that will impact the lifestyles of my clients. Quality of life is essential and paying more for a home that can give you an extra hour or two with your family (dogs included) is priceless.
Avoiding bottlenecks remains a high priority for anyone living here, and needs to be for anyone house hunting this year.