How to commute from Fairfax to DC

Clare got a great job offer in downtown Washington, D.C. and is considering taking it.  But first, she wants to figure out how long her commute would be from her home in Fairfax. She lives in Fairfax County, in the Chantilly High School boundary, and Fairfax’s 22033 zip code.

First, Clare looked into public transportation

Silver Line now open

The Silver Line of the Metro is another option for commuting

She could take a bus to the closest Metro station:

  • Wiehle Ave. on the Silver Line
  • Vienna on the Orange Line

Or, she could drive to either of these stations and park.

Clare used the WMATA trip planner app to figure out the bus routes and the time that it would take to get into DC in the morning.

Next, Clare looked into how long it would take to drive to DC.

Clare is considering driving

She heard that taking the metro can get expensive (including parking) and, from her research, learned that it takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to get into the city.

On the other hand, driving takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes during rush hour, so she’s willing to do a bit more research.

Clare’s driving choices

1. I-66 to I-495 to Route 50

Since Clare must be at work by 9:00am, and she will be driving in by herself, she won’t be able to drive in I-66 inside the beltway because it’s only for HOV (High Occupancy Vehicles).

Fairfax Chantilly to DC 66-495-50_opt

Fairfax County (Chantilly area) to DC (via I-66, I-495, Route 50)

This is why she can drive on I-66 to I-495 (the Beltway), and then drive the rest of the way in using Route 50.

Route 50 is not a highway, so it has lights, but overall it moves fairly well and it is a reliable way to get into DC in the mornings.  Driving this route takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get into DC.

A similar but simpler route is to drive on Route 50 all the way.

2. Route 50 all the way

Driving Route 50 all the way from Fairfax County (from the Chantilly area) takes a bit longer (perhaps 5 minutes longer), but traffic moves along fairly well compared with parts of the I-66 highway which can be stop and go traffic.  Many people who commute this way say that they find it more relaxing to just hop on Route 50 and go.

Fairfax County (Chantilly area) to DC (via Route 50)

Fairfax County (Chantilly area) to DC (via Route 50)

Another alternative is to drive north to the Dulles Toll Road.

3. I-267 (Dulles Toll Road) to I-495 to GW Parkway

Some people who live on the north side of the Chantilly HS boundary feel that they are closer to the Dulles Toll Road (I-267) than to I-66.   They prefer to drive on the Toll Road, even if it costs more in the long run.

These commuters take the Toll Road to I-495 and then drive north to the GW Parkway. It is a longer drive, but it can be a faster route (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).

Fairfax County (Chantilly area) to DC (via I-267, I-495, GW Parkway)

Fairfax County (Chantilly area) to DC (via I-267, I-495, GW Parkway)

Clare decided to try out all of the routes

After her research, Clare decided that the commute didn’t seem to be too bad so she is planning on trying out each of these routes (including the ones on public transportation) to see which one she likes the best.

Do you need to commute to DC?

Let your fingers to the “driving”.  Before you drive, check out these online resources that we used to calculate the commuting times on this article:

We used Google® Maps to trace the driving routes, and the WMATA trip planner app for the public transportation options.



Your turn, what do you think?

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