In recent weeks, Dr. Gridlock has been soliciting nominations for the longest red lights in the metropolitan area. The longest one turned out to be forever: a red light that does not change in Prince George's County, according to a reader.
Others described waits of an astonishing five, six or seven minutes. Many more had stopped at red lights for three- and four-minute tooth-grinding waits. Readers told us of a sign at a traffic light at Idylwood Road and Route 7 near Falls Church: "I LOST 40 POUNDS . . . waiting at this red light."
Some of these lights may need attention. Dr. Gridlock will forward your complaints to the proper officials and report on any adjustments they make. Usually, they conduct a field inspection when someone complains.
Also, many readers said a bigger problem is too-short green lights. What follows is long red lights, but I'll take your nominations for short green lights, starting now, for later use.
Here are the long red lights in the area where you live. (To simplify things, times generally appear in the letters in numerical shorthand. For instance, 2:45 means 2 minutes and 45 seconds.) If you want to see all the nominations we received throughout the Washington region, you can find them on the Web at www.washingtonpost.com/metro.
Does it count if the length of the red light cycle can be measured in days?
The light at the intersection of Edmonston Road and Kenilworth Avenue, just outside of Bladensburg, which would allow Edmonston traffic to cross the street into Fletcher's Field ballpark, or turn left onto Kenilworth, does not cycle. At all. Ever. Truly.
Traffic can turn right on red (good thing), but left-turning traffic must also turn right, go a block and make a U-turn.
Thanks for asking.
5 minutes, 2 seconds
By far the longest light I encounter in my drive from Clinton to Silver Spring every day is the one at Surratts Road and Branch Avenue (Route 5).
When I'm waiting on Surratts to go north onto Branch, the red light is a shade over five minutes. 5:01:50 by my watch.
My longest red light is between 7:30 and 8 a.m., eastbound on Route 216 at All Saints Road in Laurel. It takes about four minutes to get through, and that is if you are not the 20th car in line.
The state, or whoever runs that light, recently changed the light timing. This made almost every direction longer.
Clinton has the longest red light. I have waited five minutes on Surratts Road waiting to make a left turn onto northbound Route 5.
Janice Reid Proctor
Try sitting on westbound Brandywine Road at Route 5 in Brandywine in the morning. The red light is three minutes.
Traffic backs up so bad most mornings you have to wait through two light cycles to get through.
2 minutes, 20 seconds
I nominate the light at Route 450 and Route 410, heading on Route 410 from Riverdale toward Route 50. I timed the red light at that intersection at 2:20, followed by only 20 seconds of green light at 5:10 p.m.
You usually have to sit through two or three cycles to get across Route 450.
Sunderland, Calvert County
2 minutes, 10 seconds
There is a very long signal in Prince George's County at the intersection of Branch Avenue (Route 5) and Auth Road.
If headed west on Auth Road, waiting to make a left turn (south) onto Branch Avenue, the wait can be up to 2:10.
The longest, most ill-timed light I've found is on the Suitland Parkway heading toward Andrews Air Force Base from the city. It is at Stanton Road SE. Traffic backs up from this light all the way across the South Capitol Street Bridge to Interstate 395.
Despite the heavy flow of outbound traffic on the Suitland Parkway in the afternoon, only five to seven cars on the parkway can get through this intersection before the light changes.
Dunkirk, Calvert County
2 minutes, 47 seconds
My nominee is the intersection of Bauer Drive and Norbeck Road (Route 28) in Montgomery County. Turning left from Bauer onto Norbeck toward Gude Drive and Viers Mill Road, the red light lasts for 2:47!
If that isn't enough, you get only 13 seconds of green light, meaning you can only get seven or eight cars through.
This occurs in the evening. I measured the time of the light at 6:08 p.m. I pity the drivers who have it worse.
2 minutes, 30 seconds
I'm not sure if it's the longest in the area, but it's 2:30 long. It's in Kensington, at the intersection of Knowles Avenue and Connecticut Avenue. I'm on Knowles heading toward Rockville Pike and Georgetown Prep when the red light at Connecticut Avenue holds me for 2:30. I timed it one June afternoon. My car had no air conditioning, and I was dying in a heat wave we were experiencing.
2 minutes, 30 seconds
Going southeast on Riffleford Road at Route 28 (Darnestown Road) the red light is 2:30. Too long.
M. Dean Houston
2 minutes, 30 seconds
My nomination is the traffic light at Four Corners in Silver Spring.
Going east or west on University Boulevard, one sees a 2:30 red light before you can cross Colesville Road (Route 29) during rush hours.
The green light is only 30 seconds, so it usually takes five cycles to get across the intersection.
A complete redesign of this intersection is needed today. It's a mess and gets worse every day. Montgomery County is also to blame for allowing the construction of a new high school at that location.
The county needs to bite the bullet and build an underpass for University Boulevard traffic at Colesville Road.
The longest light I experience is at the intersection of Taylor Avenue and Rowe Boulevard in Annapolis. If you are on Taylor, heading across Rowe Boulevard toward the shops on West Street, the red light can be three minutes.
The wait seems like an eternity.
I've always suspected that the light at the intersection of Route 108 (Laytonsville-Olney Road) and Queen Elizabeth Drive in Olney is a bit long.
The green light on 108 allows plenty of time, but if you are on Queen Elizabeth, either crossing 108 or making a left turn, be prepared.
I've timed the red light up to two minutes. The green light lasts for only five seconds.
Also, I have been at that intersection in the evening when east-west traffic on 108 was stopped at red lights, but the Queen Elizabeth traffic never got their green light. The result was a three- to four-minute wait. My husband and I were amazed.
The left turn signal on Great Seneca Highway at Quince Orchard Road is one that might qualify. If you are traveling south on Great Seneca and try to make a left onto Quince Orchard, sometimes you have to wait through multiple cycles because the left turn arrow only turns green every other cycle.
People used to try and get around this by making the previous left at Sioux Lane and cutting through a neighborhood, but this is now illegal.
This is a problem.
You asked for nominations for the longest red light, and I would like to nominate the light at the intersection of 14th Street NW and the south exit of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
I have waited inordinate amounts of time for this light to change so that I may exit onto 14th Street.
The light will turn red for traffic on 14th Street, but then it doesn't turn green for those exiting the RRB! Then the light turns green for 14th Street traffic, and the cycle starts all over again.
After a few cycles of this, cars exiting the RRB run the red light (with the help of building security guards, when the light is red for 14th Street traffic.
This happens several times a week. Can you help?
Dr. Gridlock will take it up with the appropriate officials.
Dr. Gridlock's assistant, Jessica Medinger, contributed to this column.
Dr. Gridlock appears Monday in the Metro section and Wednesday and Thursday in the Weekly and Extra sections. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, P.O. Box 3467, Fairfax, Va. 22038-3467, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The doctor's fax number is 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.