Strasburg alert: Nats game at 7:05
[Update: Nationals Journal reports that Strasburg was scratched because of the stiffness he experienced while warming up in the bullpen tonight.]
Transit services and the District's traffic management tend to get a decent amount of credit for how they've handled Nationals Park, unless Stephen Strasburg is pitching. The rookie, who is scheduled to start tonight's home game, tends to draw a crowd, which tends to draw travel grumbles from fans and commuters.
So here, on a night when they seem particularly relevant, are some travel tips I've collected from my experience and your experience in getting to and from Nationals Park.
-- 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 construction blockage on the northbound span is in the third lane from the right. Stay left for 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, D.C. 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.
-- 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, although 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 First streets SE.
Try it, at least before the game, when you can walk downhill from Capitol South Station on New Jersey Avenue along with plenty of other people in the daylight.
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