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Sunday marathon to disrupt traffic

[Updated.]

I've been getting some inquiries from residents in the D.C. area who want to avoid the Marine Corps Marathon traffic on Sunday. Several readers who live close in are particularly concerned with getting to and from Reagan National Airport.

So I want to focus this posting on traffic and transit plans for those seeking to avoid the marathon rather than those who want to get to it. (That will come later.)

First, even though some stations and some trains will be more crowded than usual for a Sunday, Metrorail is still likely to be the best bet for getting around. Many streets in the District and Arlington that are near the Potomac River and the Mall are scheduled to close. The effects of that will ripple out, causing extra traffic on the nearby streets that remain open.

See a list of street closings planned for the Marine Corps Marathon.

You might get a better idea of the area involved by looking at this marathon map (pdf) on the marathon's Web site.

Metrorail will open at 5 a.m., two hours earlier than normal on a Sunday. The marathon starts at 8 a.m. The busiest stations are likely to be Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn on the Blue and Orange lines. Many of the marathon participants and spectators will be from out of town, and they won't be familiar with the Metro system. That causes long, slow lines at the fare vending machines and at the fare gates. But when I've been on the trains during marathon Sunday, I found them much less crowded than during a typical weekday rush hour. I wouldn't hesitate to use them for an airport trip, even with luggage.

Tara Hamilton, spokeswoman for the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority, which operates Reagan National Airport, suggests that drivers who might normally use the George Washington Parkway to reach the airport consider approaching via the Capital Beltway to northbound Route 1. But she also recommends Metrorail as a best bet under such conditions.

Chain Bridge closing: Current plans call for a full closing of the Chain Bridge this weekend, so the contractor on the long-term rehabilitation project can replace several important components of the structure. The District Department of Transportation and the contractor are looking into whether the closing schedule can be modified in light of the marathon, but no decision has been made on that. The Key Bridge, the next bridge down the Potomac River, is scheduled to be closed during the marathon on Sunday.

By Robert Thomson  | October 26, 2010; 3:25 PM ET
Categories:  Airports, District, Events, Virginia  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Marine Corps Marathon  
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