Traffic and Transit Update: 12-Hour Commute

Thursday, Jan 27, 2011  |  Updated 1:41 PM EDT
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A woman describes her long journey home in the snow on the <a title=George Washington Parkway. She left her office at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday and didn't get home until 5:30 a.m. Thursday." />

A woman describes her long journey home in the snow on the George Washington Parkway. She left her office at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday and didn't get home until 5:30 a.m. Thursday.

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Beltway Traffic Still Slow

Look at this video from 4 a.m. this morning. It's the beltway near River Road in Bethesda, Maryland. Drivers are still stuck in traffic. Looks more like 4 p.m. then 4 a.m. doesn't it?
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Twelve hours. That's how long it took some people to get home using the George Washington Parkway Wednesday night.

Danielle Heard finally made it to her destination at 5:30 a.m. Thursday after leaving her Crystal City office at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.

She said traffic came to a halt on the road at about 5:15 p.m., and moved very little after that.  She did a phone interview with NBC Washington at the 10-hour mark of her drive home.

"People have begun to abandon their vehicles," she said. "When you finally do get some movement, you're driving around them, or around people who ran out of gas."

She said some people began walking out of frustration, while others decided to sleep in their vehicles.

"It's surreal," she said.

Heard said she believes Park Police were trying to do their best, but there was very little communication.

"Even the first five or six hours, the news outlets haven't been reporting on the G-W Parkway. That only added to the frustration," she said. "We feel like the folks of Whoville -- we're here, we're here.  And we weren't really getting any feedback."

At the 10-hour mark of her journey, she made it to the scenic overlook.  Her long journey finally ended at 5:30 a.m. That's when she texted NBC Washington to let us know she finally got home.

"People have to realize that Washington is no longer a sleepy little Southern town," Heard said. "I think four-wheel drive is a must for many, because most of the vehicles stranded are not four-wheel drive vehicles."

The westbound lanes of the G-W Parkway were still closed at 7 a.m. between Spout Run and Route 123 because of the snow and a number of abandoned vehicles still on the roadway. That meant if you were trying to get to Virginia from Washington, you were re-routed from the Parkway to Spout Run.

Click here to view our traffic maps and traffic cameras.

There were still quite a few abandoned vehicles on the Parkway Thursday morning due to the storm, which crippled the road from 4:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. 

Park Police said nearly 100 vehicles were abandoned on the Parkway overnight. The vehicles will be towed to the parking areas of the scenic overlooks on the Parkway. Owners can go to the scenic overlooks after 11 a.m. Thursday to retrieve their cars.

More than 100 cars were abandoned along the Dulles Toll Road and its ramps. Owners have recovered some but Airports Authority police are now starting to tow others, beginning with the outbound lanes, then inbound. Anyone who goes to get their car and finds it gone should call 703-572-2950 to see where police have taken it.

Abandoned vehicles are scattered across the region, including on Interstate 270 in Montgomery County. Those were blocking the far right lane of the roadway in some areas.

Vehicles abandoned on Montgomery County and Maryland State roads during the storm may have been towed so the road could be plowed. To identify the towing company and retrieve a vehicle, call the Emergency Communications Center at 301-279-8000.

If you abandoned your car in the District and believe it was towed, call D.C.D Public Works at (202) 541-6083.

The DC DPW said it will enforce morning rush hour restrictions on Thursday. Motorists may not park on streets designated as rush hour routes between 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. The fine for violating the rush hour parking restriction is $100.

Prince George's County said that as of 6:30 a.m., all primary roadways are passable, with snow crews turning their focus to residential roadways.

Motorists are asked to drive with extreme caution and to treat all intersections where traffic signals are not operating as four-way stops.

Metro Update

Metrorail service opened at its usual time and Metrobuses will begin the day on snow emergency routes, with plans to return to as many neighborhood streets as possible as those roads are plowed and conditions improve to the point that it is safe to travel.

MetroAccess will begin service at 10 a.m.

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The Maryland Transit Administration has canceled service on two MARC commuter trains and Virginia Railway Express trains are running on a modified schedule following heavy snowfall in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The MTA says there will be no service on the Camden and Brunswick lines on Thursday. The Camden Line runs between Baltimore and Washington, and the Brunswick Line extends from Washington to Martinsburg, W.Va. It says the Penn Line, which runs from Washington through northeastern Maryland, also will operate on a modified holiday schedule.

Virginia Railway Express trains are also running on a modified schedule.

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