photo of 695 to 395

One of the great things about living in a large metropolitan area is that, from time to time, you get the chance to drive on a BRAND NEW ROAD!  It’s all clean and smooth, and black and shiny (sort of), and there’s not even potholes on it yet.  Recently, I got a chance to ride on one of these new roads, partially paid for by my D.C. speed camera fees !

Since I’ve lived here for going on 21 years, I’ve had the chance to see lots of changes in our local roads over time.  Those first eight years I didn’t have a car, but spent a lot of time going all over the place to babysit for people.  Then of course there was the inevitable taking cabs home from bars at 2 AM (you wouldn’t believe how much of the city I got to know from that way).  These days, between the job, kids activities, and far flung friends, I have definitely made up for lost car time.  When I drive to visit these friends, I like to see how long it takes me to get from Point A to Point B (without speeding) using various different routes.  Since I live in Prince George’s County and I have several friends in Arlington (about 14 miles away) there are no fewer than 4 primary routes that I could take to get from A to B.

A few months ago, I got the chance to drive on the new Inter-County Connector in northern Montgomery County for the first time, which was exciting — but since I don’t have a personal attachment to that part of the metropolitan area, the experience was not necessarily a thrill. Recently, however, I got to ride on a new road that I do have a personal investment in. After years of living on the Hill, and then years of living in Prince George’s County with a sister that lives on the Hill, and all those friends in Arlington, I frequently had to travel south on 295 and try to make my way over to the Hill or over to 395. But if I wanted to stay on a highway, we’d have to go 3 miles (and 7-10 minutes) out of our way.  So many times we would travel south on 295 passing an exit that only went east (when we wanted to go west), and my husband or my sister and I would look at each other and say, “Why can’t they just build a bridge that connects 295 South to 395? It would be so much easier !”  Finally, a couple of weeks ago I was headed south on Kenilworth Ave. to 295 South to meet my friend and her kids on the Hill. As I started to drive, I mentally mapped my route in my head and I thought to myself, “I wonder if that new 695 road is finished yet?”

I was super excited to head south down 295 and see that YES! It was, in fact, finished – and the girls and I were delighted to ride on the new road, called 695. It easily shaved at least 7 minutes off of our trip.  A couple of weeks later I was heading to Arlington for an appointment, and based on the time I left, I NEVER should have gotten there on time. Again, I took 295 to 695 to 395 and shaved about 10 minutes off my trip.

This is a true quality-of-life issue for me. There are definitely a lot of dreadful things about living in DC and all the traffic and road construction that we have to endure, but getting to drive on new roads on a regular basis is one of the more pleasant things to do.

Ellen blogs semi-anonymously in Gorgeous Prince George’s County at Thrift Store Mama, writing about suburban life, parenting Beezus and Ramona, and trying not to go all crazy.

Photo credits: and Washington Post file photos