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Travel tips for Stewart/Colbert rally

The Comedy Central hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will take over the eastern side of the National Mall, the side nearest the U.S. Capitol, from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday. Here's how to get to their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

Best bets
This location between Third and Seventh streets NW means that participants have many options for Metrorail access, and that's definitely the best way to get there, since downtown parking is limited. See National Park Service map of the National Mall.

On weekends, parking is free at Metro lots and garages. You can drive to one of the outer stations, park and take the train into downtown D.C. But keep in mind that this is a common tactic for people from outside the immediate area. There's no system for checking in advance to see if a Metro lot or garage is full. The alternative: Drive to a parking area one or two stations from the end of the line. They tend to be less crowded. See map of Metrorail system.

Closest Metro stations
The most crowded station for National Mall events is Smithsonian. It's the one everyone knows is on the Mall. You're likely to find less crowding by getting off and on at L'Enfant Plaza or Federal Center SW on the Blue and Orange lines, Archives-Navy Memorial on the Green and Yellow lines, or Judiciary Square and Union Station on the Red Line. Don't bother transferring from line to line, unless you enjoy crowding. Just pick the closest station on your line and walk from there. The weather should be great for a walk, according to the Capital Weather Gang forecast.

Weekend work
Metro almost always schedules track work for the weekends. This coming weekend, the transit authority plans work on the Red, Orange and Green lines, which will cause delays.

Red Line riders taking the train from Glenmont should add at least 20 minutes of travel time to get around work on the elevated tracks at Rhode Island Avenue. Passengers coming in from the western end of the line, the Shady Grove side, should add at least half an hour for the trains to get around work on the Rockville platform.

Orange Line riders should add at least half an hour to a trip between Stadium-Armory and Cheverly stations. This is where Metro will be doing some preparatory work for a big effort to stabilize the tracks on the following weekend.

Green Line riders should add at least 20 minutes between Fort Totten and Prince George's Plaza, where maintenance workers will be out on the tracks.

Trip Planner
Metro's Web site has a very helpful scheduler called Trip Planner -- at least it's helpful under normal circumstances. It doesn't account for delays caused by weekend track maintenance.

Paying the fare
Whether you're using the plastic SmarTrip card or the paper Farecard, it's a good idea to go in with enough value on the card to cover a round trip, so you don't have to wait in long lines at the vending machines when you're heading home. If you haven't used your SmarTrip card in a while, it takes a second or two longer now for the electronic target on the fare gate to communicate with your card. Don't wave the card around. Hold it down on the target till the barriers part.

Note to regulars
Be patient. Things won't go at the pace you're used to. As with any big event on the Mall, this one will draw many out-of-towners unfamiliar with the Metro system. That means longer, slower lines at the fare vending machines and at the fare gates. More people will be wandering around at transfer stations like Metro Center.

There's limited street parking in the Mall area. The District enforces parking rules on Saturdays. That means you'll need to put money in the meters and follow the time restrictions on how long you can park in your spot. On most downtown streets, it costs $2 an hour to park at a meter, and in many places the time limit is two hours.

The District uses a variety of parking meters, but you're most likely to encounter either a traditional single-space coin-operated meter or a green multi-space meter. See a District Department of Transportation parking guide.

There are some experiments going on with different parking systems. For example, on Independence Avenue, south of the Mall, you may encounter a pay-by-space meter that will ask you for the number of the parking space, which you'll find on a short post by the curb.

Street closings
This is an updated list of streets scheduled to be closed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
-- Third Street NW from Constitution to Independence avenues
-- Fourth Street NW from Pennsylvania to Independence avenues
-- Maryland Avenue SW from Third Street to Independence Avenue
-- Constitution Avenue NW from Fourth to Sixth streets
-- Pennsylvania Avenue NW from Fourth to Sixth streets

The National Park Service is planning to close several streets near the rally site. They are Jefferson Drive; Third to Seventh streets NW; Madison Drive, Third to Seventh streets NW.

D.C. buses
Metrobus operates one of the largest public bus systems in the nation. See Metrobus route maps here. The fare is $1.50 with a SmarTrip card and $1.70 with cash.

Detours: Metrobus Routes P2 and P6 will detour from 8 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Sunday around Pennsylvania Avenue NW between Third and Seventh streets NW, because of the Red Bull Sound Clash.

Saturday, Route P6 will detour from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. around Third and Fourth streets between Constitution and Independence avenues because of the Jon Steward/Stephen Colbert rally.

Routes 70, 90, 92, 96 and G2 will detour from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. around the vicinity of Georgia and Florida avenues NW, because of the Howard University Homecoming Festival and Parade.

If you're new in town and looking for a bus on rally day, a best bet is the D.C. Circulator bus system. The buses operate on just a few basic routes, but they're a distinctive red, black and gray, are scheduled to arrive every 10 minutes and cost $1. See Circulator routes here. Circulator does not anticipate any detours on Saturday.

People with disabilities
Rally organizers say they will offer a complimentary shuttle from the Stadium-Armory Metro station to the intersection of 4th Street and Madison Drive, near the rally site. Shuttles will run every 15 minutes from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., the organizers say.

By Robert Thomson  | October 30, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories, District, Driving, Events, Metro, National Mall, Transit  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Metrorail work for the weekend
Next: Archives-Navy Memorial reopened


Wow - no updates on traffic and Metro? You did it for the Beck Rally.

And oddly enough, the twitter feed at the bottom of that post will give you updates on the Stewart/Colbert rally.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | October 30, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Your advice on taking the Metro is less than stellar. My son took a bus to West Falls Church (Orange Line) that arrived before 11 AM, then spent over 90 minutes waiting for a train that had room (along with an increasingly frustrated, growing crowd). He finally got on a train headed to Vienna (wrong way) in hopes of getting on at the end of the line and turning around to DC. It's after 1 PM, and he's still not in DC.

Posted by: cko123 | October 30, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Bicycling? How bout it, Dr. Gridlock? Even if you wouldn't do it, you could at least cover it.

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | October 30, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that go a few stops in advice screwed me too. Took the Fairfax County Connector bus to WFC. Thank God I had a SmarTrip card or I would have been in the fare card line for at least an hour. Proceeded to spend over an hour watching trains come every 15 minutes packed with no room for more people. Finally gave up and went home. 3 hours wasted. Should have driven. (My friends parked 2 blocks from the rally.)

Posted by: Marimom | October 30, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

It's not the advice on taking the Metro that is less than stellar, it's the advice TO take Metro that is less than stellar. Always.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 1, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

It's not advice on taking the Metro that is less than stellar, it's the advice TO take the Metro that is less than steller.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 1, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

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