If you are driving to DC and are unfamiliar with the layout of the streets and highways in Washington DC, it is best to have a good GPS, map on your phone, or, better, a knowledgeable navigator in the front passenger seat. The highways and streets can be very confusing, combined with numerous one-way streets, angled streets, roundabouts, and multiple interchanges, and lots-o-traffic and drivers from all over the country and the world (see videos below…). PS. Parking in DC is a major hassle.
According to the Urban Dictionary, inside the Beltway is a metonym meaning "A politician, lobbyist, or other person who is politically isolated from the rest of the country, due to the royal court type environment of Washington, DC" inside the Beltway. Being inside the Beltway often leads to Potomac fever, another metonym, according to the Urban Dictionary meaning "A disease peculiar to the greater Washington, DC, metropolitan area that presents chiefly as an intense desire in the infected to be associated with the power and prestige of the United States Federal Government, particularly the Executive Branch. Associated symptoms include acts of extreme obsequiousness to those in power or likely to be in power; asserting as fact things one knows or suspects not to be true; and a burning desire to do more work for less pay." The Capitol is at the center of the Beltway, although some claim that the Zero Milestone is the center. Congress, which meets at the Capitol, was established as the first branch of government by Article I of the U.S. Constitution. The inner suburbs of Virginia (Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, Bailey's Crossroads, McLean, parts of Fairfax County) and Maryland (Chevy Chase, Suitland, Bladensburg, Hyattsville, Takoma Park, College Park, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Bethesda, and part of Silver Spring) are located inside the Beltway.The major north-south highway in WDC is Interstate 95 (I-95). Other major highways into the area are Interstate 270 (connecting to I-76/I-70 to the north) and Interstate 66 (I-66) from the west.
(Also see these items from the Congressional Glossary: A Note About Usage; "Congress”; Capitol; K Street; Pennsylvania Avenue.)
The Beltway, Interstate 495, surrounds the Washington DC area. If you are unfamiliar with the Beltway, you should be familiar with the names of your entry point and your exit point. The Beltway has on outer ring (counterclockwise) and an inner ring (clockwise), and connects to Interstate 66 on the west (Port Royal), Interstate 95/395 on the south (Richmond), Interstate 95 on the north (Baltimore/New York), and Interstate 270 on the northwest (Gaithersburg).
The two Beltway bridges crossing the Potomac River are the American Legion Memorial Bridge (between McLean, VA and Cabin John, MD) and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge (between Alexandria, VA, and Oxon Hill, MD).Interstate 95 is contiguous with Interstate 495 on the east side of the Beltway between approximately Springfield, VA on the south (Exit 170) (Alexandria, VA, crossing from VA into MD across the Potomac River via the Wilson Bridge, Andrews Air Force Base, and College Park, MD) and Hillendale, MD on the north (Exit 25). Also see
- Bridges in Washington, DC – Wikipedia
- George Washington Memorial Parkway – Wikipedia
- Inside the Beltway – Wikipedia
- Interstate 495 (Capital Beltway) – Wikipedia
Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway – Wikipedia
NORTH Click map for an interactive map from Google
Scale: Each side of the Washington, DC "diamond" is 10 miles.
Capital Beltway I-95 & I-495 South: Washington DC
14 -11 The Capital Beltway: I-495 in Virginia & More
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