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 FOR THIS DAMN LIGHT TO CHANGE."
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.
Untimed 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.
1 minute, 30 seconds Here's my suggestion for a VERY long stoplight in Alexandria. It holds up Franklin Street eastbound traffic approaching Route 1 (South Patrick Street). I timed it at 1:30 plus.
The Patrick Street drivers have a super-long green light, but I still see them run the red light at that intersection.
1 minute, 30 seconds My candidate for the longest red light is 1:30, traveling east on Braddock Road in Alexandria at the intersection with King Street and Quaker Lane.
As measured by Chazzo Habliston, age 8, using my watch.
1 minute, 30 seconds If you're eastbound on King Street, at its intersection with Braddock Road and Quaker Lane, the wait is 1:30. The red light wait for a left turn onto either street is two minutes.
The intersection is complicated by its crisscross nature, probably contributing to these lengths.
David and Deanna York
7 minutes The longest red light is at the base of the Exit 13 off ramp (Wiehle Avenue) off the Dulles Toll Road eastbound in Reston. Seven minutes. I know this because I took a cab from Dulles to this exit and watched in penny-pinching frustration as the meter ran.
What made it worse was we simply wanted to make a right turn, but the "No Turn On Red" sign applies even if it is 11 p.m. and the road is empty.
7 minutes I nominate Duncan Drive turning left (west) onto Little River Turnpike (Route 236) in Annandale as the longest red light in the Metro area.
To make for more efficient time, I actually take my breakfast with me to eat while waiting for that light!
Also complaining about that light was Arthur McClinton, of Annandale.
6 minutes My nomination is the light for the exit of Tysons Station Plaza on Route 7 between the Beltway and I-66 during evening rush hour. This light takes from 5:00 to 6:00, or about two radio songs.
4 minutes, 50 seconds The red light for the left turn from the Fairfax County Parkway onto westbound Fair Lakes Parkway is 4:50 long.
I get to enjoy it twice each night because my bus ALWAYS gets stuck there for at least two full cycles.
4 minutes From northbound West Ox Road, the left turn light onto Cedar Lakes Drive can hold you up for 4:00. This light is approximately two blocks from the Virginia Department of Transportation Northern Virginia headquarters!
4 minutes I am convinced the area's longest red light is at the intersection of Huntington Avenue and Telegraph Road in eastern Fairfax County. Several months ago I was on westbound Huntington, waiting to make a left turn onto southbound Telegraph Road.
I was first in line for a turn and timed the wait at a full 4:00 before the light changed. That must be some kind of record.
2 minutes, 38 seconds Cars traveling southwest on Idylwood Road at it approaches Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) have to wait for 2:38.
While waiting, drivers could take in a sign on a nearby telephone pole that reads, "I LOST 40 POUNDS WAITING FOR THIS DAMN LIGHT TO CHANGE."
Jean W. Burdell
3 to 4 minutes One of the longest times I have spent at a red light is on southbound Wisconsin Avenue at Bradley Lane. Normally traffic moves very well through this intersection, however, there is one case where the southbound traffic gets a red light for what appears to be two full cycles (about three to four minutes). That kind of delay wreaks havoc on Bethesda traffic.
This occurs when Bethesda Fire Department Station 6 (which is at the intersection), responds for a call and uses their ability to change the light in their favor.
Afterward, the southbound Wisconsin traffic sits through two cycles while the northbound traffic moves freely.
This has happened to me three times in the past year, and since Station 6 is busy, I believe it to be a problem that occurs fairly often.
Lt. Tim Long
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.
2 minutes, 28.18 seconds Yes, please, help! The longest red light, traveling eastbound on University Boulevard in Silver Spring is at Route 29.
It is red for what seems like forever for those of us on University Boulevard, and then when the light turns green, it is green for two seconds!
There are long lines on University in the morning. Route 29 traffic is always moving, of course, because they have the green light forever!
Dr. Gridlock's assistant, Jessica Medinger, contributed to this column.
Dr. Gridlock appears Monday in the Metro section and on 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.