In some circles it is known as the ‘Bloatway’. We’re talking about that section of Interstate 95/495 that encircles our nation’s capital. This highway was either designed by madmen, or deep in the psyche of those designers lurked proto ‘Al Qaeda’ terrorist tendencies. Certainly, since its completion, this highway, in overall magnitude, has killed enough people to be on par with the ‘World Trade Center’ attacks on our Nation. We are forced to conclude that the beltway brings out the worst in driving behavior. ‘Road rage’ can’t begin to describe what we have seen occur in our travels on this stretch of the Interstate system. Yes, we ascribe devious intent to those designers who participated in this project from its inception.

Take the major ongoing ‘improvement’ now taking place in the Springfield, VA area referred to by the media as the ‘mixing bowl’. Here we have the rejoining of the east and west loops and I-395, all converging together to head south. From a design point of view, this plan can only be characterized as ‘voodoo’ or ‘mumbo jumbo’ and so far it’s taken years with additional years to go until completion. We suggest a moniker change, it should be referred to as the ‘mosh pit’ instead of the ‘mixing bowl’.

The most important consideration to keep in mind about the ‘Bloatway’ is its consistent design shortcoming to anticipate the true traffic capacity needed for this span of highway. Maybe the designers find humor in the monumental gridlock’s that regularly occur. The reality is that these highway designers must have had a terrorist’s subconscious mind-set in place throughout the whole process of creating the ‘Bloatway’. We anticipate the following scenario.

Some summer Friday evening, when the majority of local DC area residents randomly decides to get out of town, and the regular crush of tourists is trying to get into town, a gridlock of galactic proportions occurs. While blythly sitting in their vehicles, drivers and their passengers with engines running to maintain air-conditioned comfort, blasting their radio’s, watching DVD’s to pass the time, talking to friends and family on cell phones, a silent-but-deadly situation is developing. So much carbon monoxide is building up along the route of the Beltway that a micro-climatic turning point is reached. Everyone within a few hundred yards of the route of the Beltway is slowly and silently asphyxiated. Now that’s terror.