Neighbors Worry About New Stadium Traffic
Just days before the Nationals begin their final season at RFK Stadium, the baseball team's soon-to-be neighbors in Southwest Washington met last night with the officials and consultants who are trying to make this new relationship work.
The neighbors are worried about the baseball fans, and many find no solace in the District's experience in arranging the flow of the baseball traffic to and from RFK. They talk about differences in geography and fear that on game days they will become prisoners in their homes as traffic moves toward the new stadium. They worry about the safety of their children.
Concern extends up into the southern portion of Capitol Hill. Those folks are worried that some baseball-bound drivers might choose to park north of the Southeast-Southwest Freeway and walk down to the stadium on South Capitol Street.
The government officials and consultants did a pretty good job of describing their plans and listening to the responses. The residents who invested in this community have a lot at stake, so it was good to see leaders like District Transportation Director Emeka Moneme speak to the people and then stay through the rest of the lengthy meeting to hear their concerns.
The key challenge for those planning the 2008 inaugural season is to spread out the arriving and departing baseball fans without damaging the surrounding neighborhoods. Spreading out an arriving crowd is a good trick when you know they all have to wind up in the same place.
Most drivers are likely to use South Capitol Street and most transit riders will get off at the Navy Yard Station. Season ticket holders will park closest to the stadium, while other drivers will likely be parking farther to the east. So far, no parking has been arranged on the western side of South Capitol.
But many residents are worried about Virginians coming across the 14th Street Bridge and using east-west streets in Southwest -- the streets where they live -- to reach stadium parking. Many would like to see P Street SW blocked off at South Capitol, but the planners said no decision has been made.
As for street parking, the District plans to use a similar system to the one employed during the baseball and soccer months around RFK. To park on the street in whatever residential zone the District winds up designating, drivers will need a residential parking sticker or a visitor's pass. Each household will get one visitor's pass. (Don't lose it.)
We'll be talking much, much more about this planning before 2008, and I'm very interested in getting your thoughts and questions, both here on the blog and in my Dr. Gridlock e-mail, which is email@example.com.
Meanwhile, the 2007 baseball season at RFK starts Monday at 1:05 p.m. Don't forget about the restrictions on neighborhood parking, and take Metro if at all possible. The transit authority Metro will operate two express trains: An Orange Line express departing the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Station at 12:14 p.m., and a Blue Line express departing Franconia-Springfield Station at 12:04 p.m.
Each train will operate in express service to the Rosslyn Station, make local stops to Metro Center, operate express to L'Enfant Plaza, and operate express to its final destination, the Stadium-Armory Station.
Look for a train with the first two cars wrapped in the red and white Nationals logo. Listen for announcements advising you that you're on the special express.
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