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Getting to Nationals Park on Tuesday

Baseball fans want to see the new kid, Stephen Strasburg, make his first major league appearance, scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. First, they've got to get there.

It's hard to imagine that just a couple of years ago, for the inaugural season at Nationals Park, the District Department of Transportation was planning for every game to be a sellout. Fans who drive may have grown over-confident about stadium traffic.

On Tuesday evening, the weather should be very good, and the area around South Capitol and M streets should be very crowded. Here are some suggestions:

-- The 14th Street Bridge across the Potomac doesn't have an easy side during rush hour. The traffic is always heavy at peak periods in both directions. Leave plenty of extra time.
-- The Nats no longer have game-day parking at RFK Stadium or a Nats Express to shuttle fans to and from Nationals Park.
-- If you're plotting a trip with an online map or GPS, the park's address is 1500 South Capitol St. SE, Washington, DC 20003-1507
-- See the parking options on the Nationals Web site.
-- Don't be thinking about finding an easy spot in the neighborhoods around Nationals Park. The District already thought of that. Street parking for non-residents is either banned or very expensive all the way up to Capitol Hill.
-- There will be plenty of D.C. traffic-control officers and police along South Capitol and M streets.

-- Metro is a best bet, but the Green Line, which stops at Navy Yard Station, will be very crowded and the platform will be jammed before and after the game -- or at least as long as Strasburg lasts.
-- When you exit the train, you'll be directed toward the Half Street entrance, the large one built to handle baseball crowds. That's the safest exit, too, because fans are just a block from the park and don't have to cross any major streets.
-- After a crowded game, I sometimes find it easier to enter the station from the New Jersey Avenue side, rather than Half Street. See how long the line is to get into the Half Street side.
-- There will be normal rush hour Green Line service to the game. Afterward, Metro will add more eight-car trains. The goal is to get people off that Navy Yard platform as quickly as possible, and Metro has been pretty successful at that. If the platform gets too crowded, Metro will shut off access till the crowd thins.
-- Most complaints I hear come from fans who find huge crowds at the main transfer stations, L'Enfant Plaza and Gallery Place. They endure long waits for the connecting trains. (Meanwhile, at Verizon Center above Gallery Place Station: Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. James Taylor/Carole King show.
-- As with any big event, make sure you've got enough value on your SmarTrip card or Farecard so you don't have to stand in yet another long line at the fare vending machines on the way home.
-- Metro charges for parking at its lots and garages till the train system's midnight closing.
-- Buses provide a bit of a release valve, though they can get stuck in the traffic. These Metrobus routes serve Nationals Park: 70, P1, P2, V7, V8, and V9. Also, the District operates a Circulator bus route linking Navy Yard Station, Eastern Market Station and Union Station.

There are more than 250 bike racks around Nationals Park, and there's a free bike valet service in Red Garage C at the corner of N and 1st streets SE.

Try it, at least before the game, when you can walk downhill from South Capitol Station on New Jersey Avenue along with plenty of other people in the daylight.

By Robert Thomson  | June 7, 2010; 5:20 PM ET
Categories:  Driving, Events, Transit  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Nationals Park  
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Went to the game on Friday. Transferring at L'Enfant was a disaster. Does Metro no longer have the special Green Line train that turns around at Anacostia? They'd better do it this time.

If you're on the eastbound Orange/Blue lines, you're better off getting off at Capitol South and walking a mile down to the park.

Posted by: VelocityAtrocity | June 7, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

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