Will an Old Town Alexandria to Tyson's commute drive me insane?
July 16, 2014 7:15 PM   Subscribe

Northern VA MeFites: I live next to the Braddock Road metro in Old Town Alexandria, and am considering a job in Tyson's. In terms of a commute by car, is this a Very Bad Idea? Which route would you recommend the most & which should I avoid? I considered a blue-to-silver line commute, but the daily round-trip total comes out to $14.70, way more than I can afford. I've been in the DC area for 4 years, all involving a straight blue line commute.
posted by invisible ink to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I commuted to Tysons from the West End (near Jordan Street) for about a dozen years; maybe I was nuts to begin with, and admittedly I had weird not-usually-rush hour hours, but I did it, year after year. I drove (with 1-2 others) straight out Duke Street/Little River Turnpike, then north on the Beltway.

I think you're going to have to decide for yourself which works better for you: driving is cheaper but crazy, Metro is calmer but expensive.
posted by easily confused at 7:34 PM on July 16, 2014

I did Shirlington to the far edge of Tyson's for a year and would only reccommend it if you can go in early and leave early.
Getting out of Tyson's in the evening was terrible no matter what I tried and took me at least 30 minutes if I left any time between 5 and 8 PM.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 7:51 PM on July 16, 2014

Eh, I did this for a year or two, it's not that bad. You just have to resign yourself to a long commute and be patient.
posted by empath at 7:59 PM on July 16, 2014

This will drive you insane. I say this as an Alexandria native (living here now) who has also commuted for years at a time in Baltimore City and LA, and currently commutes into DC. The commute you're talking about is a really unpleasant slog. I had to do it for a couple days just last week (though from the West End, not Old Town) and it wasn't pleasant. I also had to pay a $1 toll to get onto 495 from Tyson's, just as an FYI. Not sure what the toll situation is like generally but you might want to look into that while pricing out the car commute.

Also, easily confused, please say you're talking about SOUTH Jordan?! Wow, such a small world!
posted by rue72 at 8:46 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

That would be a terrible commute. Per the husband, he used to commute from Springfield to Tyson's and he said it was crawling just about the whole way. His ended up being about 1 hr 15 mins each way. I used to commute from Fairfax to Tyson's and vowed never again just on the shittiness of getting in and out of Tyson's itself.

Maybe look into whether slugging or carpooling would be feasible? That would get you in the hot lanes for free. Also sometimes there are express buses that could be a cheaper option, though with the silver line finally opening they might discontinue anything along those lines.
posted by brilliantine at 8:59 PM on July 16, 2014

You'll be commuting exactly at rush hour? I mean it's bad but not that bad. I commuted from West Alexandria to Ashburn and that was bad. Definitely consider moving to West Alexandria though, the slog from Old Town to anywhere adds an extra half hour.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:40 PM on July 16, 2014

Bad, bad, bad, bad, do not do. I did the reverse of that for three years (Falls Church to Alexandria), and I could just see the endless wall of stopped cars going the opposite direction the other day.

Also, both the Old Town and Tysons ends are going to get you in the car. Mr. Bowtiesarecool was commuting a mere 7 miles each way into Tysons for the last few years, and it easily took an hour each way just because of the cluster trying to get anywhere around Rte 7 in the evening. It now takes him the same amount of time to commute all the way to HAYMARKET. Tysons is a tear in the space-time continuum. And Old Town...well, you live there. Braddock Road is a little less messy than King Street, but it takes a while to get out.

I suggest trying the Blue-Silver route after it opens, and trying driving. For me personally, the extra money would be worth it to not sit in that rage-inducing traffic. If you're patient, and you've got a good supply of podcasts/audiobooks/radio stations to keep you happy in bumper-to-bumper for an hour (at least in the evening, morning seems to be a little better), the car might be worth it. And Tysons is still super not pedestrian-friendly, so depending on where your stop and your workplace are situated relative to one another, the time in the car might be preferably to walking along a cement wasteland to your job.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 10:35 PM on July 16, 2014

Folks above are going the wrong way, IMHO. It was much faster to skip the hells that are Rt 7 and the beltway and go George Washington Parkway to 123 and head into Tyson's from that angle. There's an art to being in the correct lanes for avoiding the bridge backups, but you'll be going against traffic for a lot of the trip and at least it's pretty.
posted by carmicha at 4:05 AM on July 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

I agree with carmicha. Would try GW Parkway to 123.
posted by candyland at 4:11 AM on July 17, 2014

Not sure of your budget, but you could also consider the unlimited passes that Metro offers. A monthly pass works out to about $11.70/day for just a workday commute, and you'd get unlimited rides the rest of the time too.

Also - do you have a bike, or bikeshare? The Mount Vernon trail connects from Alexandria to Rosslyn directly, and is a lovely ride that would save you some fare.
posted by susanvance at 6:21 AM on July 17, 2014

Don't mean to derail to much with the biking thing, but I just remembered that the W&OD trail actually connects from directly from the Mt Vernon trail to Falls Church. If you are looking to save money with a fantastic commute, it's really worth considering.
posted by susanvance at 6:35 AM on July 17, 2014

Don't mean to derail to much with the biking thing, but I just remembered that the W&OD trail actually connects from directly from the Mt Vernon trail to Falls Church. If you are looking to save money with a fantastic commute, it's really worth considering.

But then she ends up on a bike in Tysons.

Another vote for Blue-Silver. You'll be reverse commuting on the silver most of the way and will easily get a seat.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:51 AM on July 17, 2014

I did shirlington to tysons for a year and a half and absolutely hated it. So if a bad commute weighs heavily into your decision making than realize this could be a bad commute/bad decision. Could you negotiate having them pay your metro? my leaving that job in tysons was in part due to the annoying commute - just sharing my experience. if you live walking distance to a metro, its almost a shame not to use that incredible resource.
posted by SanSebastien at 6:56 AM on July 17, 2014

Oh apologies - I meant bike partway, leave the bike at the metro, and ride in (both metros are close, I think the East Falls Church metro is just a block or two from the trail). The nicest thing about this is that you are well set up to easily take metro when the weather is bad.

Don't mean to harp too much, but I would be over the moon with this commute personally - I'd probably specifically grab a job that allowed me to spend 2 hours a day enjoying off-road bike trails.
posted by susanvance at 7:16 AM on July 17, 2014

Think about the GW parkway to 123 option - I did this for a few years. I was doing Del Ray to Tyson's Corner, right by the Galleria. This is survivable if you can leave Tyson's before 5:00. Tyson's is a total disaster around Christmas and if it snows. I was there for both snowmaggedons, took 4+ hours to get home each time.

There are also a few "back roads" solutions, but only a few off of GW Parkway. Can you do it for a few days and see what it's like?
posted by Farce_First at 7:21 AM on July 17, 2014

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