Northern Virginia drivers have a new reason to hate congestion: Their traffic troubles may now be costing the state jobs.
Virginia dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 in CNBC's "Best States to Do Business" this year, largely because of its "perpetually clogged highways," the business tracker noted.
Road conditions were no secret to people already doing business in the state.
"The business community has been at the forefront of trying to find a way to fund transportation improvements," said Jim Corcoran, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. "The sheer amount of time employees spend commuting is unproductive time."
Del. Joe May, R-Leesburg, expanded his Sterling-based technology company in southside Virginia instead of Northern Virginia in 2007, in part because traffic in the north was so bad.
"Transportation here in Northern Virginia for technology-based businesses boils down to if you can't get your employees to work and if you can't get your customers to visit you, you don't have a business," he said. "We sort of teeter right on the edge of not having enough transportation."
A recent Fairfax County report found that traffic forced Guernsey Office Products to build a second distribution center in Maryland because the clogged Potomac River bridges slowed its drivers.
Congestion could also be keeping some companies from moving to Virginia, business leaders said.
"It's basically common sense and history repeating itself. The reason big employers try not to wade in and try to get transportation improved is they just go where there's good transportation," said Leo Schefer, president of the Washington Airports Task Force.
Corcoran said businesses want both highways and rail lines -- a mix of public transportation and better roads.
"They want to see a holistic plan put together," he said.
But what they need to get those solutions is more money, said Mark Ingrao, president and CEO of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce.
"The whole Silver Line is a great improvement in transportation. Also the [Beltway Express Lanes] are a great improvement in transportation. But most of the money that's going to pay for that is from tolls," he said. "There's very little other money coming in."