Drivers concerned about Canal Road

Saturday, January 15, 2011; 8:46 PM

Police were still investigating the Friday morning car crash that left two people dead on Canal Road at Clark Place, and there was no determination on the cause. But many travelers who heard about the tragedy wrote in to complain about the poor drainage along the commuter road in Northwest Washington, which they say is a longtime hazard and leads to icing in the winter. This letter was typical of the messages I received.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I've been commuting from Montgomery County to Rosslyn for about 2½ years. My concern is Canal Road and the poor maintenance of the road. I've never seen a major commute route with so much standing water and foliage problems.

Most regular commuters seem to know in bad weather to avoid the lane closer to the hillside and use the lane closer to the Potomac River. I've also been surprised that with all the movers and shakers that use this road to go into Georgetown and K Street that changes have not happened.

If these fatalities Friday morning are due to the ice on the road, I'm definitely not surprised. It's been a very bad situation waiting for tragedy to strike.

- Beth Erdman, Darnestown

Canal Road may be just three lanes at its widest between Chain Bridge and Foxhall Road, but it's an important connector for drivers going to and from the District or between Maryland and Virginia.

Drivers said several sections of Canal Road fill with standing water and become very slippery when the temperature drops below freezing. Tree branches in the roadway also are a frequent problem, they said.

Some who deplored the condition of the roadway also said many drivers go too fast in a zone with a 35 mph speed limit.

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