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Who had the worst week in Washington? Commuters.

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Drivers moved slowly on I-66 at Lynn Street in Rosslyn last night, even at 11 p.m.

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By Chris Cillizza
Friday, January 28, 2011; 3:00 PM

Everyone knows that traffic in Washington is terrible.

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From I-66 (just two lanes? really?) to the Beltway (constantly crowded), Washingtonians view our congestion issues as part and parcel of the D.C. experience.

Heck, we even take a bit of perverse pride in just how bad it is, a sort of we're-No. 1- ism that revels in the clog and our hard-won knowledge about how to sidestep it using back roads, alternate routes and the occasional bike path. A recent study out of Texas A&M University's Texas Transportation Institute showed Washington tied with Chicago for the worst commute in the country, with drivers spending an average of 70 - yes, 70! - hours stuck in traffic each year.

But this past week's snowstorm - timed by nature to coincide perfectly with the legions of drivers leaving early to try to beat rush hour - tested even the most committed of Washington's commuter class. Metro buses skidded out; Metro trains slowed to a crawl.

There was Denise Borders, who spent 13 hours on the George Washington Parkway, "just sitting for hours. Literally. Sitting, not moving."

There was Shaun Gholston, whose normal 55-minute commute from Rockville to Capitol Hill took a tidy 11 hours and 19 minutes. "It just felt hopeless," Gholston told The Washington Post. "Like I was never going to get home."

And then there was John Lisle, a spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation, who calmed the crazed commuters by telling them that the lesson the District government had learned from last year's blizzard was "to manage expectations." Um, thanks.

Even getting home was cold comfort - literally - as the wet snow knocked out power (and heat) to hundreds of thousands of people in the metro area.

D.C. commuters, for watching our traffic go from typically bad to unusually awful in just a few hours, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail chris.cillizza@wpost.com with your nominees.


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