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A nice safe and clean environment in which to study.
Traffic jams in rush hours, it's not at all the South
In a nutshell
Give yourself enough time.
In Georgetown (Washington, DC) while Urszula was doing window shopping almost a month before my visit to Fairfax I was talking with a middle-aged guy, met on a street, about places to visit around US capital. I asked him, among others, about Fairfax. As I remember well the very sympathetic guy was from Boston. He told me that Fairfax County is a synonym for horrible suburban sprawl and home to George Mason University, generally rather not interesting from the visitor's point of view.
Fairfax is an independent city forming an enclave within the confines of over 1 million people Fairfax County. The administrative division works quite different in the USA than in Europe. Passing through large urban area in Northern Virginia I never knew whether I was in Fairfax city, Fairfax county or maybe in Falls Church, Arlington, or say Alexandria. Drivers use number of exits and routes not names of cities/towns to navigate.
Now I know, Fairfax city and county being quite a rural community of farms and small estates in the early 1950s, grew rapidly in the 1950s and 1960s (including an almost 700 percent increase in population during the '50s). Today it is a highly urbanized area, a part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States after New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Updated Sep 30, 2006
Phone: +1 (703) 385-8414
We caught local traffic jams a few times driving from Dulles International Airport via Fairfax County to Arlington in afternoon rush hours which added at least half an hour to our drive time. Well, I remember jammed route of unusual 4-digit number 7000. That's why I drove much earlier to the airport not to miss my plane back to Europe.
On weekdays 7.00 am - 9.00 am and 4 pm - 7 pm. Those afternoon's hours worked worse for me than the morning ones.
Unique Suggestions: 1. USE INTERSTATES
The traffic jams were caused by traffic lights on our multilane highway (US-50). When we caught the interstate (I-66) it went much better (there was low traffic exclusively on right lanes to some, more popular exits). My recommendation is to use interstates, I-66 in Fairfax County as often as possivle to avoid numerous traffic lights which make traffic very slow. Although sometimes it looks strange: completely empty streets in City of Fairfax and crowded interstate. Anyway traffic goes faster on the interstate unless any lane or any ramp is closed due to accident (I didn't see any in Northern Virginia).
2. CHECK CURRENT ROAD CONDITIONS
If you have access to internet you can check it just before your drive here.
Listen to the local radio stations to catch up-to-date info. When I noticed my satellite radio in a car driving in rush hours in this area, I easily find info for commuters on each news station.
3. DRIVE IN 2 OR MORE PERSONS IN A CAR
And use HOV Lanes or High Occupancy Vehicle lanes marked clearly (signs and rhomus painted on the lane) along I-66 and I-395 (not in Fairfax but in Arlington) where they have like seperate freeways with seperate exits and ramps. You save time in rush hours.
Most of locals drive alone and theey have to hate those HOV Lanes which steel them a lane exactly when they are in a hurry. I liked them :-). In western part of the USA like in southern California HOV Lanes are called and signed as Car Pool lanes. Those lanes in Arlington and Northern Virginia were HOV Lanes exclusively in rush hours (read the time indicated on signs), whereas in California usually 24 hours.
Fun Alternatives: 4. USE GPS navigation with traffic satellite service - my recommendation
If you have GPS in a car and smart software you are lucky, the software do it for yourself and choose the faster itinerary for you at any time. GPS is the most usuful just in such area of high traffic like Fairfax County and Northern Virginia.
Use efficient metro system in Northern Virginia - my recommendation.
Written Sep 28, 2006
Luggage and bags: Most of our trips to the area are weekend road trips so a small rollaboard or overnight bad will suffice.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: We pack according the season and weather forecasts. DC in the winter can be frigid so plenty of warm clothing and layers are a must. In the summer months the area can be stifling hot and very humid so light, breathable clothes are best. Comfortable walking shoes are always a must. We always pack umbrellas; just in case of rain.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Shampoo, Hair gel, Razor, shaving cream, contacts, glasses, deodorant, toothpaste, aspirin, cologne, brush and body wash.
Photo Equipment: Digital camera, charger, memory card reader and video camera
Written Jun 4, 2010