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Old 09-28-2011, 07:01 AM
 
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Does anyone do the commute from Stafford County (or more specifically, Aquia Harbour) to DC on a daily basis? How horrible is it? Would leaving very early in the morning really make it better? What about leaving DC in afternoon? When does afternoon rush hour begin? Thanks!
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Old 09-28-2011, 09:02 AM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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My commute isn't quite that long (distance wise)- I do Lake Ridge (getting on 95 at exit 160) to Alexandria. I leave the house at 6am and usually hit some congestion although it does move (as long as there isn't an 'incident' on the roadway).

WTOP always mentions delays and backups around the Prince William County Pkwy exit so that's something to be aware of. Also, at the 395/495 interchange, I hop onto 495 and it always appears to me that there is a backup on 395 right at the mixing bowl. WTOP also frequently reports delays at the Duke Street and Glebe Road exits.

IMO, you would need to be out of your house no later than 5:30am to miss most delays and backups.

Afternoon rush hour begins about 3pm and 95 South is slooow going. I take some back roads and avoid 95S if at all possible in the afternoons. It would drive me bonkers if I had to drive in that congestion all the way from DC to Aquia (although the backup usually begins at the Fairfax County Pkwy exit).

It definitely slows at Exit 160 (Occoquan, Lake Ridge) because it goes from 4 lanes to 3 lanes and then father down at Dumfries because of HOV traffic merging into the main lines.

Carpool if you can. My husband is in a carpool and is able to travel HOV. The distance he has to go is greater than mine but he's always home before I am (even though he has to make a stop at the commuter lot).
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Old 09-28-2011, 11:25 AM
 
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Take the VRE from Lorton to L'Enfant plaza or Union Station.
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Old 09-28-2011, 01:15 PM
 
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Yes, the commute is horrible; but plenty of people do it and you will find multiple ways to do it.
I have commuted from 610 downtown. If you can take VRE, that is not a bad option. Parking at the Stafford lot seems to be okay when I've gone at 6:30; can't speak to later than that.
I know a lot of people take van pools; there are several commuter lots around.
I would say those two options are your best defense against rush hour. If you have to drive yourself, you'll want to avoid going north after 6:30 or 7:00 and southbound is worst from 4ish - 6ish. Summers and Fridays are the worst for southbound and bad weather days are bad as well... but you can do it! Lots of people do.
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Old 09-28-2011, 01:16 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
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I worked in DC many years ago, and there was a woman there who commuted from Aquia Harbor. She used to take a vanpool or bus. She seemed to think it was okay going that way. She did come in early and leave early. Again, this was many years ago (in the 1990s) so traffic is probably much worse now (on the other hand, VRE wasn't around yet).
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Old 09-28-2011, 01:38 PM
 
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I leave from Woodbridge at 5:15 a.m. and there are PLENTY of people on the road with me. At that time, it's not unusual at all for there to have already been an accident most commonly just before the HOV entrance down by Quantico, which makes it bad coming out of Stafford.

Yes, if you leave early, it will be okay. But people have many definititions of "early." If you think leaving at 6:00 AM is early from Stafford then I can tell you that won't be early enough.

There is a daily backup at the Prince William Parkway that gets started around 5:45-6:00 a.m. It's not bad at that point but it will slow you down. The next back up is at the Occoquan Bridge through Lorton. After that you are pretty good until you get near Edsall Road. Leaving much after 6:00 a.m. from Stafford and those points will probably be getting unbearable.
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Old 09-29-2011, 05:56 PM
 
Location: The Mountains of AlaBAMA!
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Yes, traffic is definitely worse than it was in the 90s.

Agree with all of the above advice, especially with the likelihood of accidents. 5:30 can usually get you to DC in an hour to an hour and a half; if you're willing to slug (carpool) up HOV, you may be able to do it in 45 to an hour.

Many people just tough it out in their cars alone, but that gets old after awhile. Van pools are also a good idea; there are several going into DC, but they may be hard to break into.
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