Now that so many longtime homeowners are suddenly rich as a result of this insane housing market, I'm wondering if any are buying their way out of gridlock. That is, cashing out and moving somewhere where the cost of living is lower and the traffic nonexistent.

Has anyone done that? What might be the promised land for a retiree or those still in the workforce, the people who have had it with the pace of life here -- and especially with our traffic congestion? Paradise might be a couple of counties away, or at the far end of the earth.

What move worked, and what didn't?

Go ahead and share your find. We won't follow. Promise.

Latest on the Connector

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

What is happening with the intercounty connector? It was discussed during the last political elections, when politicians were saying it was their top priority.

What is the status of this road?

Arthur Podolsky

Silver Spring

It is the top transportation priority of Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).

The road being contemplated would be six lanes, divided, running about 18 miles from Interstate 270 across Montgomery County to Interstate 95 at Laurel. It would be a toll road, with tolls deducted from electronic transponders, much like how E-ZPass works. There would be no tollbooths.

The process is inching along. There are now three choices: building a northern route, building a southern route or not building.

The Maryland State Highway Administration is doing an environmental impact study of these choices and expects to come to a conclusion this summer, according to David Buck, spokesman for the agency. That finding will be released in early fall, he said.

Then the Federal Highway Administration will weigh the impact statement finding and make a final decision from among the choices.

If the decision is to proceed, construction could be underway in 2006 with completion in 2010.

To learn more about the road, including the northern and southern routes, go to www.iccstudy.org.

Lane Mayhem on Wilson Bridge

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I drive over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and back every day. I must say the construction makes the commute challenging.

I am writing because of my concern about the lanes opening and closing on I-295. There have been several accidents already, including my father being sideswiped by an SUV.

For some reason, the lanes open up to three lanes and then close back to two lanes. Why can't they keep the lanes to the right closed to prevent these passing speed demons from causing these accidents? This happens on both north- and southbound I-295. All it would take would be some safety cones along the side to prevent access to the outside lanes.

By the way, the damage to my father's car is going to cost him $1,000.

Chris Berry

Alexandria

I suspect you are running into shifting lane patterns as the engineers construct the I-295 interchange with the Capital Beltway. You can follow these shifts by going to www.wilsonbridge.com. This interchange should be done in 2008. Same with the other Maryland Beltway interchange, at Route 210.

The Woodrow Wilson Bridge will be replaced with two new spans, each six lanes wide. The old one will be knocked down. All the bridge work should be done in 2008.

In Virginia, the Route 1 interchange with the Beltway should be done in 2009 and the Telegraph Road interchange in 2011. The Beltway by then will be widened to six lanes in each direction for the seven miles or so past the new interchanges and over the bridges.

I know this is a painful time for you commuters who live and work in the corridors near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. If it's any consolation, it is under budget and on time, no small feat considering the magnitude of the project.

Wipers on, lights on. It's the law.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers e-mails, at drgridlock@washpost.com, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.