Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Nasty, Brutish and Long

The Secret Service and DC Government released important inauguration transit information today.

All Potomac River bridges linking Virginia to the District of Columbia will be closed to private vehicles. The Arlington Memorial Bridge will be open to pedestrians walking into the District from North Virginia. All other bridges will be open to buses, taxis, limousines and emergency vehicles.

•14th Street Bridge (Buses and Authorized Vehicles Only)
•Roosevelt Bridge (Buses and Authorized Vehicles Only)
•Memorial Bridge (Pedestrians and Emergency Vehicles Only)
•Key Bridge (Buses and Authorized Vehicles Only)
•South Capitol Street Bridge (Buses and Authorized Vehicles Only)
•11th Street Bridges (Buses and Authorized Vehicles Only)

The Sousa, Whitney Young and Benning Road bridges across the Anacostia River will be open, though enormous portions of South East DC around RFK stadium will be used as tour bus parking.

Major vehicular arteries into the District from Maryland will be open to all traffic.

•Rock Creek Parkway (all traffic) – From Piney Branch Rd to Virginia Ave
•East Capitol Street (all traffic) – RFK area will be filled with tour buses
•Benning Road (all traffic)
•New York Avenue (all traffic)

To facilitate charter bus passengers and motorists lucky enough to find parking, the 3rd Street Tunnel will be reserved for pedestrians.

(Street closures and access points in downtown DC)

Meanwhile, DC Metro will open 60,000 private parking spots at park and ride lots in Maryland and Virginia, the Washington Post reported. The park and ride lots were previously reserved for charter bus parking, but after DC officials provided parking for 10,000 charter buses within walking distance of the Mall, those lots became available.

Lots and garages open 3:30 AM on Jan. 20. Parking costs a flat rate of 4$ payable only in cash.

Park and ride lots in PG County will be open at Greenbelt and Morgan Blvd stations on the Green and Blue Lines, and in Fairfax County at the Van Dorn St station, also on the Blue Line.

With transit points into the District severally limited, much of the city center off limits to private vehicles and parking likely to be a nightmare, inauguration attendees coming from Virginian suburbs are likely to face long waits and large crowds at Metro stations, while those arriving at Dulles and National Airports will be at the mercy of traffic conditions.

With no rail link between Dulles and DC, passengers arriving there will have no option but to take a cab or bus into the city. Traffic from Dulles is congested under normal conditions. Given the huge turnout expected, passengers arriving at Washington’s least accessible airport may spend hours on clogged roadways. Passengers arriving at National Airport willing to shell out for a cab may have an easier time than normal entering the city as bridges will be free of private vehicles.

Visitors arriving from Maryland face different challenges. Though major vehicular arteries are open to private vehicles, traffic will be horrendous. Congested under normal conditions, the multiple branches of the I-95 system connecting DC to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston will likely be gridlocked. Traffic inside the city will be no better and finding parking will be a miracle. Passengers arriving at BWI Airport have a choice of MARC commuter rail, Amtrak, taxi and bus. Though MARC will be closed to service Sunday Jan 18, MARC is running full service on the Penn Line, which serves BWI, on Martin Luther King Day.

Those lucky enough to have a hotel room, rented apartment, sofa or living room floor inside the District will likely have to walk several miles to the Mall and parade route. No word yet on expected weather conditions.

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