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Headaches on the horizon

Nationals afternoon game
Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to pitch at Nationals Park in a 4:35 p.m. start Wednesday. On an afternoon when the Capital Weather Gang says the temperature will be in the upper 90s, you'd think the bloom might be off that particular rose, but no, it's still likely to be a crowded game, just as rush hour is getting underway.

-- Games at this hour are rare, so it's not something drivers get used to. Expect crowding near South Capitol and M streets, along the Southeast-Southwest Freeway and the 11th and 14th Street bridges.
-- On the northbound span of the 14th Street Bridge, the long-term road work has moved out into the right-center lane. You'll still find four lanes open. They're just not where they used to be. Remember to stay right to reach the Southeast-Southwest Freeway.
-- 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. (Fans may encounter extra crowding at Gallery Place after the game, because there's a James Taylor/Carole King concert scheduled for 8 p.m. at Verizon Center. Doors open at 7 p.m.)
-- 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. (But remember the heat. Have that water bottle full.)

Normally, I'd say try it, because you can avoid a lot of crowding by walking downhill from South Capitol Station on New Jersey Avenue. But I'm not sending you out for a stroll in that heat.

By Robert Thomson  | June 22, 2010; 7:00 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories, Events  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Headaches on the horizon  
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The crowding at Gallery Place will have nothing to do with the James Taylor/Carol King concert. That was June 8th, when this blog also did a post on taking the metro to a Nats game (Strasburg debut). I guess this was a cut and paste from that post.

Posted by: JRosen23 | June 22, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

not so fast on the correction Jrosen. check your Verizon Center schedule. They scheduled another show.

Posted by: 804natsfan | June 23, 2010 2:05 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: That is weird, though, isn't it? Two times Strasburg pitches and each time there's a Taylor/King concert at Verizon.

Posted by: Dr_Gridlock | June 23, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

A good route for biking from downtown Northwest would be Penn Ave to 4th St NW going south, then east on I St, over s. capitol, then take a right on either Half or 1st St all the way to the park. Have a look at the DC Bike Map for other routes....

Because most travel is outside the Metro bike restriction 4PM cutoff, folks could try riding metro with their bike to an outlying station like Metro Center, South Cap, or L'Enfant, and bike the remainder to bypass the Green Line transfer and crowding.

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | June 23, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

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