As a resident of the National Capital Region, better known as the metropolitan area of five million people who live and work in and around Washington, DC, I lived for 23 years with a sort of perverse pride that we had the worst traffic in the nation.
Stories of traffic atrocities appeared almost daily in The Washington Post or on local television stations. Everyone had a good, evolving tale of dealing with the bumper-to-bumper nightmare of trying to get from point A to point B by car or motorcycle.
So it’s with an odd sense of loss to read in today’s Post that DC no longer ranks number one in traffic debacles. Hell, it’s no longer in the top five.
Writes Ashley Halsey III in the Post:
“We’re number eight!” is not the chant of champions. If there ever was anything to like about traffic congestion, it was that the District was No. 1 — in a bad year, maybe No. 2 — in the entire country. Nobody did bumper-to-bumper better than Washington, D.C.
Now the best this sprawl of more than 5 million people can do is a less-than-contender-caliber ranking of eighth, according to a new report out Tuesday that collected anonymous data from people’s GPS devices to make its calculations.
As a long-time Washington area resident — Amy and I called a codo in Arlington less than five miles from the district line home — my travel schedule to other parts of the country and the world offered respites from the traffic, especially when my schedule put me in places with even worse traffic like Manila, Rome, Paris, Los Angeles, New York City and other congested sports.
Yet an annual rite of Washington dwellers was the ever-expanding line of “where the traffic starts” moved further west, north and south.
When we moved to Arlington in 1981, the traffic slowdowns began just west of Tyson’s Corner but expanded each year until it reached Manassas and when even further westward on Interstate 66. Southbound delays now start on the other side of Quantico on I-95 on most days.
The Metro, Washington’s once praised subway system, provided some help if you lived and/or worked near a stop. We lived a block from the Virginia Square Metro stop on the Orange Line.
But Metro now faces overcrowded, worn-out cars and increasing problems that brings the once-lauded system to a stop. A 24-hour outage in Washington last week brought even more chaos to crowded roadways.
Granted, there is an adrenaline rush that adds to the hustle and bustle of life in a throbbing metro area like Washington. We spend most of our two-decades plus in Washington in the middle of life in the nation’s capital.
Now, however, the loss of “we’re number one” in traffic is jut among many falls from grace of the place where the nation is headquartered.
A decisive Presidential campaign spotlights disrespect of Washington and the partisanship that grips the country in gridlock. A growing consensus believes anything that happens “inside the Beltway” is out-of-touch with mainstream America.
I spent about half of my time in Washington as a political operative or an executive of a political division of a trade association that used millions to try and affect legislation in Congress. Many Americans look with disdain at what I an others did and do in the Nation’s Capital.
I can’t fault them for their anger.
My time as a journalist in Washington tried to expose the misbehavior of our elected officials and the failings of the system they controlled. Yet Americans, in general, feel the media is as much of a problem as the politicians when it comes to what’s wrong with our country,
I can share some of their anger, especially with the growth of “partisan” news operations that promote not the truth but a slanted misrepresentation of facts aimed at a partisan or philosophical point of view.
“Unfortunately, more and more people are not able to distinguish between absolute truths and relative truths, and they put their feelings and preferences above absolutes to make them more palatable,” writes Matt Slick of Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.
What is relative? The accepted definition of Relativism is:
Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity within themselves, but rather only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration.
Kind of like traffic in Washington, DC.