Dear Joy McCann over at the Conservative Commune has the story about CPAC’s new location for 2013 at The Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, which is just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., and Virginia. I’ve never been there, but I have whiled away many an hour in traffic jams on the major feeder roads in the vicinity: I-495, aka the Washington Beltway, and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway/Anacostia Freeway (aka I-295).
National Harbor is very close to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on I-495, which spans the Potomac River between Virginia and Maryland. So what’s the problem? Well, for one thing, the Woodrow Wilson bridge is a #@%&^%*^$$*%^% drawbridge in addition to being a traffic bottleneck even when the bridge is down and open for traffic. On top of that, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway is a poorly-lit, pothole-pitted two-lane road (in each direction). Besides being too small for its traffic load, it aims drivers directly into the sun, morning and afternoon, which also causes significant back-ups.
Joy is kind enough to note that I consider the wheelchair accessibility of the hotels, since my late life partner was quadriplegic due to multiple sclerosis. (I look at steps and level changes the way other people look at pointed hoods and swastikas.) The good news is that the new venue had to be built according to federal accessibility regulations, which means it should be wheelchair accessible — when you finally arrive, that is.
There’s no nearby Metro (subway) service, but there is a bus from the Metro’s Branch Avenue station on the Green line. If you plan to use the Metro and bus, make sure you know their schedules, especially when the last train leaves. The sidewalks in D.C. roll up for the night earlier than you probably think.
If you plan to find cheaper accommodations in nearby Anacostia in D.C., bear in mind that it is a neighborhood where the bullet holes in the cars are from real bullets, not gag decals.
The bottom line is that there are far fewer thrifty options for cheap accommodations at this new location. Also, sightseeing is going to be more difficult since the traffic congestion means you can’t pop out for a couple of hours and be sure you’ll get back on time, especially during the evening rush hour traffic.
Seriously, I’m not talking about a delay of half an hour but delays of at least an hour and maybe two — or more. See for yourself with these live traffic webcams and traffic websites:
- TrafficLand for the Washington, D.C., area
- Fox News local traffic webcams and traffic reports for the Washington, D.C., area
- WTOP (103.5 FM) radio’s list of Maryland, D.C., and Virginia traffic webcams and traffic reports
- Maryland’s list of live traffic webcams (including the roads in Prince Georges county leading to National Harbor)
- Montgomery County, Maryland, traffic webcams
- Virginia traffic information
My plan is to figure out how to make enough money this year for a hotel room (in addition to money for someone to care for my father while I’m away) and not venture away from National Harbor during the conference so I won’t get caught in any traffic jams.