Fun with Highways: Springfield Interchange (“The Mixing Bowl”)

Reader Beth @ 990 Square recommended that we check out “The Mixing Bowl” on the Washington D.C. Beltway. Here it is:

[Click to enlarge.]

The Springfield Interchange (as it is more formally known), is in northern Virginia and connects I-95 coming from the south to the beltway (I-495, left to right in the image) and I-395 north to downtown Washington, D.C. Part of the reason this interchange looks as complex as it does is that it was recently rebuilt, and contains the “ghosts” of the old interchange. Consider the following diagram:

[Image from Wikimedia Commons.]

The blue lines are the current interchange, while the red lines represent the pre-construction roadways. As one can see, several of the “red” pieces are still visible, such as the loop and ramps in the upper-right quadrant.

It seems the construction is not completely done, particularly along the beltway where there is still a lot of work going on. Or at least that was the case when I traveled through the interchange late on a Sunday night this past summer and got stuck for several hours.

More "Primary" Highways: Chesapeake Bay and Washington, DC

Well, things were not exactly “decided” after last weeks elections. And they haven't been exactly “decided” by tonight's results, either. So our series traveling the highways of primary states continues.

We ended last week crossing the Bay Bridge into San Francisco. There is of course another “Bay Bridge”, back east across the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge carries US highway 50 (and US 301) across the bay between Maryland's eastern and western shore regions. On the west side is Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, and an area I remember fondly from visits in 1999 and 2000. The 1999 visit was during a rather intense heat wave, which made it a great time for swimming, as I can't stand cold water. And the towns along the Chesapeake, including Annapolis, are definitely water-centric. At the same time, however, the bay has been the site of intense environmental degradation and its restoration is still very much a work in progress. Indeed, the friend who I was visiting worked on wetland restoration, both in the area and nationally. Sadly, we fell out of touch several years ago. I fear I must have done or said something offensive, but I don't know what, and I would love to reconnect.

On the eastern side of the bridge, US 50 connects to several tourist towns on the shore, including Ocean City. Ocean City is the eastern terminus of US 50, and listed as the final destination on this sign at the western terminus in Sacramento:

Apparently that sign has been stolen several times.

We have already visited highway 50 in the series as it heads east from California through Nevada. Like I-80, US 50 crosses the country and thus shows up again and again in these contests. It also crosses Washington, DC as Constitution Avenue, passing by the most prominent monuments and buildings of our capital city:

[Click to enlarge]

And in the great interconnectedness of things, highway 50 crosses I-95 on the eastern side of Washington, DC., connecting south to Miami, or north to New York across the George Washington Bridge, where one can again switch to I-80 and head west back to California.

Washington, DC has a great motto on its license plates: “Taxation without Representation,” a reference to one of the great slogans of the American Revolution. We all learn about it in our history classes here in the US. Its presence on the license plate has to do with the fact that our capital district is actually governed like a colony with no representation in the US Congress, but totally under its control and whim. So it has neither representation, nor full self-determination, things we usually associate with democracy. Making DC a state would easily solve this problem.

But the district does get to vote for president and for party candidates, and tonight it looks like they went for Barack Obama, as did Maryland and Virginia. The race is nearly even. Things are of course very exciting, but I do worry that whoever wins the nomination will be weakened by the intense contest, and not necessarily able to win when it really counts. But the race goes on, and so will our series. We'll be traveling someplace else next week.