The traffic on 66 during the rush hours is as constant as the tides, a wobble of variation here and there but basically something you can depend on as an article of faith. That being said, I do wonder sometimes what exact caprice governs whether or not the congestion and delays on that particular stretch of commuter hell merits a mention during the drivetime radio traffic updates (or, for that matter, the lighted VDOT highway signs indicating DELAYS). Some days the stentorian voice emanating from my car speakers sees fit to mention that 66 is slow approaching Route 50, and some days it goes without saying, even though from my vantage point behind the steering wheel one day on the road looks much like the other.
Every once in a while, though, there’s a report of something more than speed decreases due to volume (or, as I always suspect, general ineptitude) – this of course would be the eternally sought-after “splick” I have referred to in the past. It’s no mystery at all why a disabled vehicle would earn a mention, but those kind of specific details in the traffic reports are present only in the minority of cases.
So, despite having become as inured to the whole 66 crapfest as I can reasonably be expected to be, I suppose, I still very nearly threw the car into a Hazzard County-style U-turn and headed back home when I heard the traffic on the radio this morning, just as I was approaching the on-ramp for 66.
First the announcer reported a slowdown on 66 East due to an accident at the Nutley Street exit, blocking the right lane. Of course, this is my exit to get to the Metro. Had the accident been further East, I might have hoped that I would be off the highway before the worst effects in the zone of approach manifested themselves. Further West, and I could at least look forward to the zippy boost in the tail-end of my trip once the bottleneck past the crash opened up. But right at my exit? Oy.
Immediately after delivering that cheery nugget, the announcer further identified delays on Metro’s Blue and Orange lines due to track equipment failure somewhere around Stadium-Armory. Fortunately Stadium-Armory is pretty far away from both my starting and ending stations on the rail leg of my commute, but still, delays on the Orange line tend to be pervasive. And on the same day as a major 66 incident? What are the odds? (OK, with Metro, the odds of something bad happening are always better than average just as a baseline.)
Instead of doing anything rash, I resigned myself to being later for work than I would normally like. And of course it turned out not to be as bad as all that. They must have cleared the accident from the highway by the time I got to my exit, so that was actually a case of the ultra-rare “phantom splick”. The Metro train took its time showing up at the platform, while people continued to flow unabated into the station, so that when we finally boarded every seat was filled (usually at that first stop the train gets about half-full) and the aisles got progressively more crowded down the line. That made climbing over people to get off the train a little annoying, but at least I didn’t leave behind an umbrella this time.
Of course the reason I wasn’t carrying an umbrella was because it’s going to be high-90’s and rain-free today, for approximately the eighty-seventh time this summer (note: guesstimates may include a wide margin of error), but I’ll let it go before one rant turns into another.