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Traffic Weekend in Washington

Three events are likely to make this a difficult weekend for travel in Washington: The National Marathon on Saturday, the opening of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival on Saturday and two baseball games at the new Nationals Stadium.

National Marathon
Many people enjoyed this event last spring, but D.C. residents and visitors were howling about the extensive street closures that trapped them in their cars or in their neighborhoods. The marathon's Web site has a very good guide to the Saturday plan, along with a map of the marathon and half marathon routes and a list of the temporary street closings. You'll find them all on this page.

Cherry Blossom Festival
Saturday is opening day for the festival, which will continue for two weeks. This should be the peak weekend for viewing the blossoms around the Tidal Basin.

The National Park Service closed the Tidal Basin parking lot at 1501 Maine Ave. SW for the festival to eliminate a traffic bottleneck. But it is providing a free Blossom Shuttle bus service.

For bikers, park service and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association have teamed up to provide free valet parking during the festival. You'll find the times and locations here on the WABA Web site.

Nationals Park
At 6 p.m. Saturday, the Nationals will play the Baltimore Orioles at the new park on South Capitol Street. That shouldn't draw a full house to the 41,000 seat stadium, since it's open to season ticket holders and employees. But it will be a chance for traffic and transit planners to test out their operations. Sunday at 8:05 p.m., the Nationals open the 2008 season in their new home.

The District, the transit authority and the Nationals have been urging fans to take Metro because of the limited parking around the stadium. (There's free parking at RFK's Lot 8, where you'll find a free shuttle service to the new stadium.)

The Nats have a very helpful Way to Go transportation guide, along with an interactive map of the stadium area and its approaches.

By Robert Thomson  |  March 28, 2008; 6:41 AM ET
Categories:  Congestion  
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Comments

Driving into the District this morning, I was astonished to see a new Big Green Sign on I-395 just on the DC end of the 14th Street Bridge listing Nationals Park and the Phone Booth as destinations. (The sign for the 14th Street exit was replaced yesterday; in an even bigger shocker, it has an exit number on it.) Never thought I'd see the day that DC would make an effort to have helpful overhead signs!

Now if they would just restore a sign in advance of the 12th Street exit noting that the right lane is EXIT-ONLY so that the tourists would know not to drive in it....

Posted by: Rich | March 28, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

why would anyone pay attention to a sign? right lanes are for passing!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 28, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Wow...DC is actually numbering its interchange exits now? I guess if FHWA forced California to do it, they would force DC to as well...

And I think DC purposely tries to confuse the tourists so much that they give up and take Metro. Which, honestly, I wish more tourists would do that...especially the ones from some backwoods place that have never seen a big city before, let alone know how to drive in one. I've seen more than my fair share of clueless drivers with NC, KY, PA, NJ, etc. tags on their cars, and very few, if any, of them know the rules for the rush hour reversible lanes on Connecticut.

Posted by: Woodley Park | March 28, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

The funny thing about the new BGS is that the top line says Capitol Hill (I think) and is in the old BGS font, whereas the control city line (which lists the ballpark and the Phone Booth) is in Clearview. Looks funny to have both fonts on the same sign, but then, we ARE talking about DC.

So far the only exit number I have seen on I-395 or I-695 in DC is on the tab above the new BGS for 14th Street, which is now Exit 1. But in fairness, I haven't gone beyond 12th Street since last Friday (and that was coming from the other direction).


Regarding tourists on the Metro--the problem is that they treat the ride as a sightseeing expedition. Stopping immediately at the bottom of the escalator, which many tourists do, is just stupid, even if you don't know where you're going. Step out of the way and THEN try to figure out where to go.

Posted by: Rich | March 28, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Woodley Park, try taking the Metro when tourists are trying to get on or off.

Posted by: sardines | March 28, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

"the only exit number I have seen on I-395 or I-695 in DC"

There are numbers on the southern part of I-295. 695 runs around Baltimore and it has exit numbers, too.

Posted by: tom | March 28, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

"There are numbers on the southern part of I-295. 695 runs around Baltimore and it has exit numbers, too."

I was not referring to I-295. I'm aware of those. I was not referring to the Baltimore Beltway, either.

My point was that I have never seen exit numbers on DC's portion of I-395 or DC's I-695. The latter is the portion of the Southwest-Southeast Freeway that runs from where I-395 heads north to the tunnel under the Mall east to Barney Circle. It's not signed as I-695, but that's the official legal route number. Try a Google search for "I-695 DC."

Posted by: Rich | March 28, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Rich, you definitely know a lot about the highways in this area...I'd venture to guess that less than 1% of the population knows about DC's I-695....or Maryland's I-595 for that matter (I-595 in MD is US Route 50 from the Beltway to Rowe Blvd. in Annapolis, and planners decided not to post the number since it would be completely redundant with Route 50). You also used a "roadgeek" term: BGS (Big Green Sign).

I saw the new signs the other night, and of course they are not MUTCD compliant with 3 control cities listed on a pull-through sign (only one is allowed). This would be a whole lot easier if DC had exit numbers, since they could just say "Nationals Park, Exit 7", rather than "use I-395 north", or "straight ahead", or posting it on the pull-through sign. So hopefully exit numbers are forthcoming for the rest of I-395. I did notice the southbound signs on the 14th Street Bridge were also replaced...so now GW Parkway north is finally signed as such!

Regarding tourists on Metro...there were a lot of them yesterday and I'm sure there are today too. Annoying, yes, but FAR less inconvenient then the cherry blossom rubberneckers on Independence Ave. near the Kutz Bridge. It took me about 25 minutes to get through there, and pedestrians were at their worst. I complain about peds who start crossing when there are only 2 seconds left on the timer, but today I saw plenty of peds starting their leisurely stroll across the street some 10 seconds after cross traffic had a green light!

Posted by: Woodley Park | March 30, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I notice that the Potomac Park exit on inbound I-395 is now numbered "Exit 2." No number yet at the 12th Street exit and I haven't been beyond there on the road to see about anywhere else. I did notice the new diagrammatic sign on the 14th Street Bridge for the left-hand exit for US-1 through Crystal City (trivia: a road that was one planned to be I-595). I wonder what prompted all of these changes.

The new pull-through BGS on inbound I-395 sure looks funny with "Capitol Hill" in the old-style FHWA font and the lower line with the sports venues in Clearview. I find the Clearview considerably easier to read, although I also find it ugly.

Posted by: Rich | April 3, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

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