Tunnel drive

In general, I like living in Hampton Roads, I honestly do. Last night did not provide a good example…

There are three bridges in my Metro area that can take me from work to home. Assuming no heavy traffic, the Monitor-Merrimac bridge-tunnel does so in about 40-45 minutes; the James River bridge adds about 20-25 minutes to that; and the Hampton Roads bridge-tunnel adds about 20 minutes to the MMBT. (I have a bad tendency to refer to them as the Mimbit, the Jerb, and the Herbit.)

Unless it’s 1am, though, there’s probably going to be an additional 10-30 minutes of heavy traffic on the Herbit, and the Mimbit is a crapshoot: sometimes I fly straight through, and sometimes I sit waiting an extra 15-20 minutes. We have handy electronic signs alerting us to congestion on the Mimbit and Herbit, but because of geography, by the time I see one, the Jerb is already out of the question.

Yesterday, the signs warned me that the Mimbit was blocked by an accident – based on reports I’ve heard, an idiot trying to cut off a fellow driver. I had a quick decision to make – wait in blocked traffic there, and hope the accident is cleared within an hour (it usually is) or join all the additional traffic to the Herbit, probably incurring a 90-minute delay. I joined the queue of blocked traffic.

I took 2 hours to reach the tunnel entrance for the Mimbit, only to find that the tunnel remained blocked and that traffic was being forcibly rerouted back to the other two bridges. I don’t know the Jerb route well enough to ensure I wouldn’t get lost, so I joined the crowded line for the Herbit. 90 minutes later, I was finally home. 3.5 hours to make a 45-minute commute. (Turns out that the Jerb was just as bad.)

Starr, aware of the situation thanks to cell phones, had pizza and chocolate waiting. I love this woman.

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  • anterus says:

    Starr, aware of the situation thanks to cell phones, had pizza and chocolate waiting. I love this woman.

  • jsciv says:

    40-45 minutes to work one way?

    I don’t mind traffic anymore, living in LA will get you used to that, but I can’t abide a long commute.

  • fixitup says:

    I’ve been there. A couple years ago, it took me about the same time to get from the Oceanfront to Portsmouth. By the time I got home, I ate and went to bed.

  • jdunson says:

    This is an interesting example of why first-gen rerouting GPS directions aren’t as helpful as one might think. If a primary route goes down, everyone gets rerouted to the same “optimal” secondary route, which very shortly becomes highly non-optimal. There’s been some work on “statistical” rerouting, where based on best available traffic info your GPS rolls the dice based on a statistical distribution of routes and puts you on one, hopefully distributing everyone based on alternate route capacity and therefore streaming everyone through in a better fashion. In this case though, given the bridge/tunnel chokepoints, your options even with the best info were probably marginal.

  • ptownhiker says:

    Kinda makes you wish for a ferry, or a personal pneumatic tube.

  • lewisw says:

    Precisely why I’m glad that aside from work and the odd grocery run that my happy little world can stay in a two black area for ages and still happily run without incident.

  • fixitup says:

    I think you mean “block”. 😉

  • Mikhail says:

    I really don’t think much of the commute at all, but our apartment is pretty much equidistant from my job, Starr’s job, and our social life.

    It’ll get worse in a couple of weeks; we’re moving to a much bigger, much nicer, and half as expensive place which will put us closer to our social life, and farther from our jobs 🙁

  • Mikhail says:

    The pneumatic tube would be awesome, especially if they played a Gerry Anderson title theme at the same time!

  • lewisw says:

    To quote Homer Simpson…..”DOH!”

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