Driving on the beltway. They easy way.
April 16, 2009 11:37 AM   Subscribe

DC Filter: Moving. New job is in south Potomac. Where should I live in relation to the beltway to encounter the least amount of traffic?

I imagine most major traffic is going inbound to DC in the morning and then outbound in the afternoon. Right?

But the beltway goes around D.C., not into it. Is traffic heavy both ways during rush hour or is one side lighter at certain parts?
And ultimately, where should I live in relation to the beltway?

Also, as a side question, what do you do to pass the time in heavy traffic?
posted by nikkorizz to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (11 answers total)
Is traffic heavy both ways during rush hour or is one side lighter at certain parts?

Yes. :) Generally, yeah, it doesn't matter which way you're going on the beltway ... it's gonna suck regardless. But there will be plenty of times when one side is moving and the other isn't. I spent 8 years commuting from Rockville to Reston and usually the worst part was where the 270 spur meets the beltway.

Regarding the larger question. I've heard of North Potomac, but never South Potomoc...I'm guessing you mean south of River Road. You should probably stay west of 270 and north of the beltway, but that's a pretty expensive area so cost of living may be a bigger factor than commute (unfortunately). I would look for something in the area of Route 28, east of Darnestown, for the sweet spot of (relative) affordability and commute.

I used to do some dumbbell work during the commute, but can't say that I recommend it.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 11:58 AM on April 16, 2009

Why not choose a commute route that doesn't run on the beltway? There are several routes you could take from south to north out of DC (if you want to live in DC) and totally avoid 495.
Would you mind saying what street you'll be working on? You could also find plenty of places in Rockville or Bethesda and have an even shorter commute. I'd go w/ DC, myself.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 12:03 PM on April 16, 2009

I meant the southern portion of Potomac. It's actually in Carderock, but no one seems to know where that is.
posted by nikkorizz at 12:24 PM on April 16, 2009

I know Carderock- it's a nice area right by the river. You've got me curious about your line of work b/c there aren't many businesses there, just residences.

You won't have to commute on the Beltway if you live in Bethesda or NW DC. You are actually in a pretty decent situation for avoiding bad traffic during your commute to work. From DC, I would say plan on Massachusetts Ave, Wisconsin Ave, or Macarthur Blvd as major routes to to work.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 12:53 PM on April 16, 2009

Working at NSWC Carderock, maybe? I think that's technically in (western) Bethesda rather than Potomac. You should try to avoid the Beltway entirely if you live in Maryland.

If you can afford it, I'd say west of 270 and outside of the Beltway if you can afford it. If a little cheaper, maybe the Rockville area - it's far out enough to be cheaper and you can commute via surface highways. Best Chinese food in the area, too.

Moving across the river into Virginia may be cheaper, depending on your circumstances, as it's a lower tax state. However, be advised you'd have to cross the Legion Bridge twice a day. Generally ok, but with occasional snarls. Certainly better than the other bridges in the area. If that's ok, look for north Arlington/McLean (not Tysons Corner) inside the Beltway. You'll have a number of good ways to reach the Beltway for the short trip across the bridge.
posted by pandanom at 12:57 PM on April 16, 2009

The Beltway at the River Road exit is pretty busy most of the day. Rush hours are awful. There are a lot of nearby exits, 270, and the American Legion Bridge which cause all the delays. Without knowing more about your situation (eg, are you looking for a house or an apartment) it's hard to give you more specific information. Knowing what I know, you could just buy a house in Potomac or Bethesda. If you're looking to rent an apartment, I'd recommend looking in Bethesda. The Friendship Heights neighborhood (spans the DC/MD border) has a lot of apartment buildings and is very near River Road. It's about 6 miles from the DC border to Carderock, I think. Living anywhere off River Road will help you avoid the beltway.

If you get some more specific information, feel free to mefi me and i can tell you more about the area.
posted by battlecj at 12:59 PM on April 16, 2009

I am assuming you mean the Alexandria area, presumably below the beltway around Huntington or below. Or maybe you mean you're going to be working at Ft Belvoir.

Really, that's just not much to go on. What do you want to do in your off time? What's important to you? Apartment or house? Without more details "Wwere should I live in relation to the beltway to encounter the least amount of traffic?" could be answered simply with "nowhere near it."

There's a lot of housing to be had in that area now; it's had one of the largest hits in home value of the area and I think the leader in foreclosures behind PG county. There's some nice apartments over in the Franconia area. If you want to be close to the metro for your personal purposes that would be an option. If you want quaint and restaurants you could live in Oldtown Alexandria.
posted by phearlez at 1:11 PM on April 16, 2009

Well that'll teach me to leave a window open a long time before answering... sorry, I could not have been more irrelevant if I tried.
posted by phearlez at 1:13 PM on April 16, 2009

I don't have a specific place in mind at the moment but I'll probably be renting. Right now, I just need to get an idea of how the flow of traffic works so I don't accidentally screw myself over with an hour long commute. Ideally, I was looking for something under 30 minutes. Rockville, Bethesda were already some of my top choices, but I was also looking at Mclean since it's just across the river.

I'm going to be in the DC area this weekend to visit some of these areas. Since it's the weekend I imagine I'm not going to encounter the same kind of traffic I would on weekdays, so I'd like to at least estimate my commute.

Pandanom nailed it, I'll be working at the Naval Surface Warfare Center. As a Programmer. :) 9-5 job.

You guys don't need to specific, you already went above and beyond by suggesting me exact locations. But if you want, feel free. :)

posted by nikkorizz at 3:27 PM on April 16, 2009

Whatever you do, drop that McLean idea. Tyson's Corner is pretty much the worst traffic in the DC area.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 5:10 PM on April 16, 2009

Can you use the Metro?

Otherwise, see if you can listen to the WTOP stream and listen for the worst traffic over a few days. Then avoid those areas.
posted by gjc at 6:05 AM on April 17, 2009

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