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Triple Trouble For DC Traffic?

Let's see how big this city really is: Three events are scheduled for Saturday, March 29, and they all contain the word "National." While they're still a week and a half away, you'll probably see why there's some value in beginning to plan.

Cherry Blossoms.jpg A traffic magnet in bloom. (Thomson)

Here are the elements of the Traffic Trifecta.
The National Marathon and Half Marathon. The starting time is 7 a.m. and the finish time is 1:30 p.m. Last year, many people enjoyed having this run in the nation's capital, but it left thousands trapped in traffic. It takes place on a Saturday, which is not a light day for local travel, and it crosses through six of the city's eight wards in two big loops.

The course begins and ends at RFK Stadium. Look for signs marking the race route. That's where you'll experience temporary street closures that not only will stop traffic but also pin down cars parked along those streets. Some Metrobuses will have to detour.

I'll put up more details on the blog as we get closer to the event, but the marathon's Web site provides a lot of details. This page has a good overview of what's going to happen. This page displays a map of the routes and useful information about timing, but note it's a 5.6 MB pdf that will take a minute to download. This page has more details on the street closures. This page has a list of the street closures and the estimated times.

Cherry Blossom Festival. The annual springtime celebration begins on Saturday, March 29, and continues through Sunday, April 13. Robert DeFeo, the chief horticulturalist for the National Park Service and the man the nation has relied on for years to predict the peak bloom, says it's likely to occur between March 27 and April 3.

Think there may be some tourists in town on Saturday, March 29? Here's a list of festival events for that day.

Nationals Park Debuts. At 6 p.m. that Saturday, the Washington Nationals play their first game in the new stadium on South Capitol Street. It's an exhibition game against the Orioles, with the regular season opener scheduled for the next day. So that Saturday game, open to season ticket holders and employees, will be the first test of all the planning that has gone into getting baseball fans by car, bus and train to a place they've never been. The Nationals are building up a very helpful Way to Go Web page with directions to the park. They also have an interactive map, with more information. Metro also has a useful Web page guiding fans to the games by transit.

This list isn't meant to scare people away. Have a good time, but have a plan. And if you have any advice for getting around that day, share it here.

By Robert Thomson  |  March 19, 2008; 6:43 AM ET
Categories:  Congestion  
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Next: Traffic Delays in Downtown DC


I'm confused by Metro promoting the N22 shuttle. Maybe I'm misreading it, but according to the schedule ( the last bus leaving the stadium is at 7:04 pm. How do you get the bus AFTER a night game (at around 10 pm)?

Posted by: Stephen | March 19, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I'm confused by Metro promoting the N22 shuttle. Maybe I'm misreading it, but according to the schedule ( the last bus leaving the stadium is at 7:04 pm. How do you get the bus AFTER a night game (at around 10 pm)?

Posted by: Stephen | March 19, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

This is useful, but could you provide some information on the expected traffic and metro problems going to occur today due to the protests?

Posted by: md | March 19, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

My understanding is that the Nats have limited tickets to the Saturday night exhibition game to 20,000-25,000. So stadium congestion should be no more than half of a normal game.

With no rush hour traffic and with the other events being during the day it's hard to see this "Traffic Trifecta" being much of a problem.

Posted by: dh | March 19, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Stephen, perhaps they are just advertising that bus as a way to get to the stadium, but expect those people just to take metro after the game.

For a return route, maybe take one of the 90 buses (90/92/93). It goes from the Navy Yard to Eastern Market metro (orange/blue) and then to NY Ave Metro (red). And it runs til past midnight roughly every 15 minutes according to the schedule. Pick it up at M St. and 8 St.

Posted by: Laura | March 19, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Laura, can you imagine the confusion of people who rely on this advertising. Metro and the Nats only say "take N22 to the ballgame". People do and after the game, they wait around for the N22 to take them back. But there is no post-game shuttle service! Of course it's not the worst thing in the world and there may be alternatives, but that is NOT what Metro is advertising. My Metro shouldn't be advertising the shuttle unless they clearly inform people it's not available after the game (or the change service to make it available post-game on gamedays).

Posted by: Stephen | March 19, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Stephen, this is the deal with the N22 service.

Effective March 30, buses will run every 10 minutes. On weeknights, service will be extended to 10:30 p.m. On Saturdays, buses will run from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and on Sundays, buses will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Weekdays after 5:30 p.m., buses will discontinue the loop (8th and M streets to 12th and M streets SE and return).

The bus stop at Union Station will be relocated to the south side of Massachusetts Avenue (across the street from the current stop), and the routing around Union Station will change slightly.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | March 19, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Why isn't there a post or article anywhere about the closing of the road at 14th and I st yesterday? Even McPherson station was closed - at least that's what the police told me around 5 PM.

Posted by: Yesterday | March 19, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Dr. Gridlock. This information now makes the N22 worthwhile. But how come no one at Metro gets how to properly publicize the shuttle to encourgae people to use it. Anyone who hears about the N22 will want to know how it works - and using the information currently available (as I previously described), they will end up rejecting the N22 (because all the current literature says it won't run after the game). So a great shuttle will be underutilized (and therefore will look like a failed route to Metro). Only people who read the comments of the Dr. Gridlock blog will know that the shuttle is indeed useful. We'll use it - and when it gets cancelled, now we'll become irate.

Posted by: Stephen | March 19, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Laura, Dr. G obviously already answered it, but the reason for Stephen's question is that the WMATA page Dr. G linked in the main post says the following:

"After a Nationals game, avoid the crowds at Navy Yard station (and connect to Eastern Market or Union Station) by hopping on an N22 Metrobus. It swings by Navy Yard station every 10 minutes and it will help you make it home fast. Click here to view a map of the N22 Metrobus route."

But the timetable on the same WMATA page showed the last bus at 19.04 each day. I take it they just dropped the ball on updating their site (what else is new!).

Posted by: Rich | March 19, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Well technically I would hope they wouldn't update the timetable until the change actually happens. For instance, I would be pretty pissed if I went to take that bus tonight at 7:30 and it never came. Does it say that too if you put in March 30th in the trip planner? However, I do agree that in the literature metro should have a link to the new schedule along with it's effective date.

Stephan, hopefully metro will make this more clear. But you also have to consider that when people go to figure out a way to to the ball park in mid-april the information will be updated. I wouldn't worry too much about the bus not being used because of poor information, I would worry about the bus be underutelized because people are afraid to/don't like to take the bus very often.

Posted by: Laura | March 19, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Here's the N22 upcoming timetable posted on WMATA's site that shows the extra service for baseball games

Posted by: logan | March 19, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

"Does it say that too if you put in March 30th in the trip planner?"

I don't know. I've never used the trip planner. I'd think the right thing to do is, as you say, to have the current schedule but to have a big notation reading "Effective until [date]" and then to have another page with the new schedule and a big notation reading "Effective BEGINNING [date.]" Somebody will complain that he was confused, but I say tough luck. We can't always go overboard catering to people who won't bother to read things.

Posted by: Rich | March 19, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

If you go to and select bus timetables, at the bottom is the link to all the upcoming new timetables. I already posted the link to the new N22 tabel effective March 30. You can see there are other changes coming soon too, not just for the N22.

Posted by: logan | March 19, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Thanks logan. Yes WMATA usually rolls out changes to many bus lines at the same time.

Rich I completely agree with you. Too often the information is there, people just don't take the time to read it. Like the big banners at metro stations with parking garage's saying you need a smart trip card to exit. And then people complain they never knew.

Posted by: Laura | March 19, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

maybe they went to public schools and can't or won't read

Posted by: Anonymous | March 19, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

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