Rush hour in Floyd?

Traffic, a topic that normally doesn’t come up in conversations in a town like Floyd, is a hot issue that sparks lots of debate elsewhere in America.

Traffic, and the ability to get from point A to point B in about an hour is something that a “location platform” company like High Technologies studies.  A recent examination literally used “billions of anonymous measurements” from things like cell phone and vehicle sensors to study how far a person in a car can drive in rush hours in major metropolitan areas of this country.

The goal?  Determine where traffic is the worst at rush hour and at other hours of the day and night in places where most people in America live and work.  Not surprisingly, the Washington, DC, area where we lived for 23 years is among the worst spots to drive very far at rush hour and even other areas of the day or night.

In a rural community like Floyd, traffic delays are measured in minutes, not hours.  We hear complaints about drivers who might be stuck at the county’s only traffic light for two cycles of red and green but road trips to Roanoke usually take less than an hour.

In New York City, on the other hand, you might get 25 miles in a drive out of downtown in an hour if you start at 4 p.m. but it wouldn’t be any better if you left at 10 p.m.  In Washington, DC, it takes about at least an hour to drive about 25 miles at rush hour or at other times.

When we lived in Washington, a drive from our home in Arlington to Capitol Hill, a trip of less than five miles, took at least 45 minutes on a good day and could take two hours or more on others.  On Washington’s subway, a trip to the Capitol took about 45 minutes in packed cars from the stop a block from our condo in Arlington to the closest one to the Capitol.

Delays on the subway in Washington are more common now than they were when we left the National Capital Region in 2004.  The subway breaks down more often and some lines are inaccessible because of repairs to an infrastructure that was ignored for too long.

For the last 10 years of our stay in the area, I worked at an office behind Washington’s Union Station, north of Capitol Hill, and that required a change of subway lines, which added another 20 minutes to the train ride.  Taking a car took at least an hour to get to work on good days.  Any glitch in traffic could stretch the trip to 90 minutes or two hours.

Whenever I return to Washington, which thankfully is less often than just a few years ago, I can expect traffic on I-66 to start slowing dramatically west of Manassas and be bumper-to-bumper before we hit the Vienna exit, just south of the Beltway.

In Floyd County, one can normally drive from one end of the county to the other on U.S. 221 in less than an hour without breaking the speed limit. On Virginia Rte. 8, the drive from Montgomery to Patrick County takes even less time.

A traffic accident or road repairs or a slow-moving truck may cause some delays.  Floyd County’s road traffic is increasing.  It is not unusual to need two cycles of the traffic light in get through the main intersection in downtown Floyd, particularly if there are too many left-hand turns at the light.

But traffic, for the most part, flows freely in the county day or night.

Traffic?  We got no stinkin’ traffic.

Want to get to the U.S. Capitol in Washington? The odds are you can’t get there from here.