The most infamous stretch of one of the most congested highways
known to man.
One of the busiest and most dangerous areas to be driving in the United
States, "The Mixing Bowl" is a section of the Capital Beltway in northern
Virginia just southwest of Washington, DC and Alexandria,
encompassing several closely-spaced exits. 400,000-500,000
vehicles pass through the intersection of I-95, I-395 and I-495 every
My puny little ASCII map can hardly do justice to the thing:
Capital I-495 _____ ______ I-95/495 Beltway
To Maryland ->
Commerce ========== St
VA 644 ============
Mill Rd ||| SM
The interchanges are being reconstructed as we speak. It
is no hyperbole to say the area will look like a plate of concrete spaghetti
when everything is done.
And all of this has to be done while 400,000+ cars drive by every day.
These interchanges are so close together that Federal regulations require
they essentially be combined into one intersection. For good reason;
the number of merge areas is mind-boggling.
Not only that, the nearby Springfield Mall (SM on the map), a major traffic
generator, requires direct ramps of its own.
High-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes exist on I-95 and I-395 and will be
expanded. The HOV lanes need their own independent set of ramps.
The final cost of the project is estimated to be $567 million (which may
grow). The project will take place in several phases, the last of which
will not be completed until 2007
And of course, the slight increase in traffic capacity will be rendered
worthless unless the political football known as the Woodrow Wilson
Bridge, by which the Capital Beltway crosses the Potomac River into
Maryland, is finally reconstructed.
People driving from anywhere north of Washington DC to anywhere south
of it are advised to find alternate routes (US 13, US 301, or I-81 depending
on your starting and ending points). You will thank me later.