A Virginia Travel Guide

 

I had occasion to visit family and friends just past Raleigh NC area for the Easter weekend which was quite nice but it also meant driving through Virginia.  Below are some travel notes that may be of use for first-time drivers going through the Old Dominion on I-95.

When arriving in Virginia from over the American Legion Memorial Bridge on any afternoon on any day of the week, one will encounter the religious festival of Sprawl.  Sometime starting around 3:30 pm. 20,00 to 50,000 Virginians will begin to park on I-95 southbound and meditate on the wonders of rapid suburban growth.  The ceremony lasts about 30 to 90 minutes for each participant.  Visitors passing through are invited (actually required) to join in.

As the southbound traffic beings to move at near-normal speed, you will notice that the left lane is invariably crowded.  This is because Virginia is not a STKR state (“slower traffic keep right”).  Visitors cling to that lane in the hope that it will allow for faster travel.  It won’t.  And when the delays hit, everyone in the ”slower” lanes will pass the left-laners.

As you approach Fredericksburg, traffic will again grind to a near halt.  It is a little-known fact and statistical oddity that wherever one lives in the greater Fredericksburg area, all of one’s routine destinations (dentist, pharmacy, work, kids’ sports, etc.) are on the other side of the Rappahannock River.  This means that all local residents must use a 5-10 mile stretch of I-95 at least three times per day, usually at peak traffic times. Apparently, the federal highway planners were unaware of the consequences of going through the middle of town and eliminating old routes.

For the next 40 miles or so, the probability of delays due to road work or an accident is roughly 98.65% on any given day but even if one avoids significant delays in that stretch, there is still Richmond.  You might think that, heck, that whole metro area is only 1 million people so how could Route 95 traffic there be as bad as Baltimore or Washington? The trick to making Richmond a bottleneck lies in the fact that it is also the midpoint between Charlottesville and Norfolk.  So, I-95 and I-64 merge for a bit downtown just to magnify the effect.  It will be bad, maybe even horrible,  until you get well past Petersburg.

As a consolation, when you pass into the relative emptiness of northern North Carolina at preferred speeds, it will feel like liberation.  Don’t think about the return trip.

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  1. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Suspira (View Comment):

    When I travel to NC to visit my son in Durham, I come from the opposite direction. My question each time is, What on earth is up with the interstate (I think it’s I-20) in South Carolina? It’s in terrible condition. Always. Georgia—smooth sailing. North Carolina—good road. In between—it’s like the surface of the moon.

    Any South Carolinians here who can shed some light on this mystery?

    Must need Reconstruction.

    • #31
  2. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Old Bathos: As you approach Fredericksburg, traffic will again grind to a near halt. It is a little-known fact and statistical oddity that wherever one lives in the greater Fredericksburg area, all of one’s routine destinations (dentist, pharmacy, work, kids’ sports, etc.) are on the other side of the Rappahannock River. This means that all local residents must use a 5-10 mile stretch of I-95 at least three times per day, usually at peak traffic times.

    To be fair, they are in the process of building two new bridges across the river to accommodate local Fredericksburg traffic.

    I knew the whole area was in trouble when Feds started commuting from Fredericksburg to DC.

    I will plug my general area. Anyone with a chance to take Route 15 West around the area to defeat 95 should do so. If you have the time.

    Get out to about I-25 and you’ll be good to go.

    • #32
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