Summer time is here and you know what that means. the fun and the sun, kids playing outside, pool parties, cool boat parties on the river, folks heading to and from the various beaches. Summer can be loads of fun. But let’s face it unless you can get a summer of leisure, you still have to fight through maddening traffic to get to work.
For most towns, that means less traffic. Not for DC, and definitely not for Stafford. Traffic becomes even more congested. DC is the #2 in worst traffic in our country. The traffic Congestion comes mainly from those travelers passing through to get to the beaches, and the Nation’s Capital itself. This means that from Sunday through Sunday, traffic patterns change for the worse. In Stafford, what do you do when all main roads are stuffed?
#1 Know Your Commute
Congratulations! You have just gotten a new Contract, but it is in Arlington. This means that you will spend at least two hours in your commute only 40 miles away. Now you know, and you should probably pack some snacks and coffee accordingly, use the bathroom before you leave the house and make sure your gas tank is on full.
#2 Waze is Your Friend
We all have GPS these days. Cars come with them, Android phones have GoogleMaps, and iPhones have iMaps. Discover Waze. It is a community-based Navigation app that encourages drivers in the same geographical area to share real-time traffic and road information. This way anyone ahead of you in their commute can warn you of the ten car pile-up and you can decide to call off of work or make a detour.
So why not take the backroads? Virginia is beautiful, Lush and Green in the summers, vibrantly colored in the Spring and Fall. Picturesque in the Winter… when there is snow. So take a ride around mountains and wooden roads. So long as you don’t mind driving twenty miles out of your way just to avoid a Jam on 95 or Route 1.
#4 Change Your Drive Time
So you just want to make it to work and not have to take the scenic route? Change your drive time. Do you have to be in Arlington at 7a.m.? Leave your house at 5:30. No, I’m not kidding You will beat the traffic and have enough time to stop at Starbucks buy yourself a Venti and scone and unwind before your grind. Or you could start work right away and leave work to beat the traffic back. The interstate starts to back up at 3:30 so If you are out by 3 you are golden… unless it is Friday. You are out of luck on Friday.
#5 Save Your Pennies and Use the “Hot Lanes”
The “Hot Lanes” are a time saver. They used to be the High-Occupancy-Vehicle (HOV) lanes but now single individuals can ride on there… for a price. They have turned the free HOV Lanes to paid toll roads. People will put up with anything to get out of traffic, won’t they? Why aren’t more people using them? Maybe the fact that by the time you hit Quantico, the price goes from $1.50 to $2.50 and if you are (un)lucky enough to ride the “Hot Lanes” to Stafford from DC your bill is $17.95. It is an expensive option, but it is an option you have. You’re better off riding on the slugs; they are exempt from tolls. (Just a thought)
#6 Slug Life
No, not the gross, slimy bugs cousin to snails. It’s a sort of organized hitchhiking, where perfect strangers ride together to a similar destination. It is a free ride into work that gets you onto the “Hot Lanes”. It’s well organized, self-policing, and efficient. There are three commuter lots in north Stafford alone. You don’t know these people. No worries, everyone is an adult just don’t take any candy from these strangers and you will be just fine. They just want to get to work.
“I’m not riding to work with strangers, are you insane?” Don’t you could ultimately move either closer to work, or away from it all and seek a simpler life. It truthfully is the only way to keep your peace of mind when it comes to traffic.
Stafford is a peaceful place to live, but traffic is a trade-off. The thing is to know what you are facing and decide that it is the right place for you after all.