Last week, Washington Post staffers raced each other by car and public transportation along several typical commuter routes here. Today's report compares commuting by car, bus and subway from far northwest Washington to the congressional offices on Capitol Hill. Car
Start: 8:12 a.m. at Nebraska and Utah Avenues NW in the Barnaby Woods neighborhood.
Finish: Dirksen Senate Office Building at 1st Street and Constitution Avenue NE.
Car: 32 minutes.
Bus and subway: 44 minutes.
Bus only: 45 minutes.
It was 33 degrees when I went out to my car, and it took three minutes to scrap and defrost the windshield. The first of 11 traffic signals I then encountered gave me a chance to sip coffee and I had poured from a thermos at the start of the trip.
I followed Utah Avenue across Military Road, where Utah becomes 27th Street NW, down into Rock Creek Park. Just as the WMAL radio announcer warned of icy patches on some roads, the car in front of me skidded attempting to stop for the intersection of Broad Branch Road.
Because of the somewhat hazardous conditions, the light traffic moved slowly - 20 to 25 miles per hour - along the winding road through the park. After passing Pierce Mill, however, the peace of the traffic picked up to 30 miles per hour heading toward the zoo.
A jogger, hie breath visible in the chilly morning air, puffed along the bigepath that runs parallel to the park road.
After going through the tunnerl alongside the National Zoo, traffic slowed at a Metro construction site beneath the Duke Ellington Bridge at Calvert Street and Connecticut Avenue overhead. Then the pace quickened as the road became four lanes wide, although inbound traffic was restricted to the normal two right-hand lanes.
At the point where traffic entered the park from Massachusetts Avenue, all of Beach Drive became one-way in-bound in the morning rush, and the pace picked up markedly. At times, my speedometer showed 50 miles an hour. I wizzed by a green light at Virginia Avenue and followed the Potomac River past the Kennedy Center while listening to the 8:30 news on the radio.
It was a beautiful morning the sun reflected off the still river water and the marble of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial.
My accelerator hit the floorboard as my little car whipped up a ramp from Maine Avenue onto the Southwest Freeway.
Now the dome of the Capitol came into view, but there was no time to enjoy it, because drivers were now criss-crossing the freeway, jockeying for a position in the lane each sought for an exit.
I headed for the lane marked "U.S. Capitol, C St. SE exit." Staying left through a short tunnel, I arrived at a red traffic signal at Canal Road at the base of Capitol Hill.
Three more traffic lights were negotiated, and I pulled into my free congressional press gallery parking space on the Capitol grounds at 8:30 a.m. I pulled down my windshield visor to display my parking permit, unhooked the seat belt, got out, retrieved a briefcase from the floor of the rear seat, and strolled across the Capitol Plaza toward the Everett McKinley Dirksen House Office Building, reaching it at 8:44 a.m.