Do you know which DC freeway you’re driving on?

WASHINGTON — It’s the District’s busiest road, yet most drivers don’t even seem to know its name.

The Southeast-Southwest Freeway is technically two separate interstates, Interstate 395 and Interstate 695, which join together near South Capitol Street. WTOP conducted an unofficial survey at an I-695 off-ramp along 6th Street SE to find out what drivers on the busy freeway call it.

WTOP questioned 53 people between noon and 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10.

When asked how they refer to the road that they just exited from, more than half of the drivers, 56 percent, misidentified it as I-395 or didn’t know. About 24 percent correctly identified it as I-695. Roughly one in six drivers referred to it by its colloquial name, the Southeast-Southwest Freeway.

The District Department of Transportation began installing signage that displayed the I-695 shield a couple of years ago as the 11th Street Bridge Project was wrapping up. The Southeast Freeway is shorter than two miles in length, a figment of what city planners envisioned it would look like half a century ago.

DDOT estimates roughly 70,000 drivers travel I-695 every day. Traffic counts show that significantly more people travel I-395 daily, between 156,000 and 170,000, which could also help to explain why most drivers consider it I-395.

One driver was sure the road she exited from was I-295, which runs between I-695 and the Capital Beltway near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Another man offered a guess that the road was called “West Side Highway,” or something to that effect.

Adding to the confusion is the proximity of low exit numbers on I-395, I-695, I-295 and Route 295. In three miles, a driver could potentially pass three unrelated exit 1s, four exit 2s and two exit 3s.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2020 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up