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Traffic Meets Baseball Tonight

The Nationals are scheduled to play their first week night game at the new stadium starting at 7:10 tonight. I'll take a look around the area and tell you what the traffic and transit conditions were like. Meanwhile, here are some tips for getting to -- or getting around -- Nationals Park, at 1500 South Capitol St. SE.

South Cap Ramp.jpg Evening traffic from I-395 to South Capitol Street. (Thomson)

Drivers
-- First, don't type that stadium address into your online directions finder, make a printout and get in the car. This trip is way more complicated. The secret neighborhood parking spot you think you know is likely to be inaccessible or restricted at game time.

-- These are probable hotspots for traffic: the Maine Avenue and South Capitol Street exits on the Southeast-Southwest Freeway, the intersection of M and South Capitol streets, M Street SE in front of the Navy Yard and South Capitol Street next to the stadium.

-- You can drive to the east side of the freeway, take the RFK Stadium access road to Lot 8, park for free and take the free Nats Express shuttle, which will leave every 10 minutes.

-- The downside of the shuttle is that it drops fans at 300 M St. SE, about five blocks from the stadium.

-- Drop-off zones at the stadium are on northbound South Capitol Street SE and on First Street SE. Only the South Capitol Street side will be available for pickups after games.

-- There is a taxi stand on the east side of Half Street, between M and K streets SE north of the stadium.

Transit Users
-- You'll arrive at the Green Line's Navy Yard Station on a six or eight-car train. If you're traveling from downtown in the direction of Branch Avenue, the rear cars will be the closest to the west side exit, which can accommodate the most exiting passengers.

Express Lanes.jpg SmarTrip Express Lanes at Navy Yard Station's west exit. (Thomson)

-- If the platform is very crowded when the train arrives, the operator may hold there with the doors closed until there's more space to exit.

-- When the doors open on a Branch Avenue-bound train, turn left and you'll see two escalators rising from the platform to the mezzanine. It's exit only on that side before games, but the escalators still may be crowded. Behind the escalators, you'll find a stairway and an elevator.

-- On the mezzanine, a bank of three escalators and an elevator take people up to street level, where the fare gates and station kiosk are.

-- Express fare gates for SmarTrip card users are to the far right. Two wide fare gates for disabled people are to the far left.

-- After the game, the west side escalators all reverse direction to take fans back down to the platform.

Walkers
-- If you're heading from downtown, the Mall or Capitol Hill, it's downhill toward the Anacostia riverfront. You'll do the pre-game walk in daylight most of the time.

-- If you don't want to take the train all the way to Navy Yard Station, try Capitol South Station and walk down New Jersey Avenue. It's about 22 minutes to the stadium.

-- Watch your step. Many streets approaching the stadium are still works in progress as the neighborhood redevelops with office and apartment buildings.

Bikers
-- There are bike racks all around the stadium perimeter

-- Free bicycle valet parking is available at "Red Garage C," at the corner of N and 1st streets SE north of the stadium. The valet will accept bikes starting two hours before game time and will close an hour after the game ends.

Good Web Sites
-- The Nats are building up a very useful Way to Go guide. It now includes this link to purchase parking spaces for individual games.

-- Metro has its own guide to reaching Nationals Park.

-- Jacqueline Dupree maintains a Web site that offers lots of information about developments in the stadium neighborhoods. It includes this guide to transportation.

[Join me at 1 p.m. today for an online discussion of all our local traffic and transit issues. If you'd like to submit a question or comment in advance, use this link.]

By Robert Thomson  |  April 7, 2008; 8:11 AM ET
Categories:  Stadium  
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Next: No Stress Test For Stadium Traffic

Comments

I think another test is going to happen Friday night when the Washington Capitals will play the first game of their Stanley Cup playoffs matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers at Verizon Center, starting about the same time as the Nationals host the Atlanta Braves. The almost-certainly-sold-out hockey game starts at 7:05pm, the baseball game at 7:35pm, and both will probably end at about the same time.

My dilemma is, I have tickets for both.

Posted by: Nats AND Caps on Friday | April 7, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

On the Nats Website "Way to Go", the recommended left turn out of Blue Z lot is not allowed, so any recommended exit using New Jersey Avenue is not going to work.

Posted by: AWWNats | April 7, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Looking ahead to Wednesday, parking at RFK for shuttle service is going to be a big headache. DC United has a game and baseball fans will not be allowed to park in Lot 8 off the freeway. From what I hear, you'll have to go to Lot 7 on the far side of the RFK complex. The shuttle will take much longer, as well, since it can't access the freeway against the flow of traffic for the soccer game off the freeway.

Posted by: DCU | April 7, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Wednesday is going to be a nightmare with United at home (impacting RFK parking for Nats fans), the Wizards at Verizon and the Nats also playing at S. Capitol.

That is going to be a huge test for Metro.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | April 7, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

According to the Nat's website, the ticket office at the new stadium is not yet open! To describe this as bulls*** understates the situation. I just bought my tickets for tonight online at a substantial markup (thanks, tickets.com).

Posted by: steve | April 7, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

The Nats web site is wrong, because the ticket windows at the ballpark are definitely open.

Posted by: JD | April 7, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

And people still ask me why I'm done with pro baseball. Yet another reason. Your number 1 goal is to sell tickets, yet you can't buy tickets at the park. And baseball people will make excuses left and right about how you can go here or there, not realizing there is an inconvenience to the fans. I'm still amazed that baseball (on any level really) is still running. The customer service 75% of the time has been terrible. That's with a lot of baseball teams. When was the last time someone was rewarded for doing right 1 out of every 4 times. Oh wait, this is baseball. I guess they figure if their customer satisfaction average is around .300, that's a good thing!

Posted by: Done With Baseball | April 7, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Any word yet on the actual restrictions in place around the ballpark in regards to residential parking? When do the restrictions begin, and why aren't there any signs whatsoever north of the SE/SW Freeway? Seems like this should all be in place since the first game is tonight.

Posted by: e | April 7, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

e: Parking restrictions are already in place (north and south of the freeway) as they were for Opening Night a week ago. See the on-street parking restrictions here:

http://www.jdland.com/dc/stadium-parking.cfm

There are plenty of parking restriction signs on the southern end of Capitol Hill and in the areas closer to the ballpark, where parking is restricted to Zone 6 permit holders only on one side of the street at all times and with a two-hour grace period for non-Zone 6 holders on the other side of the street, from 7 am to midnight seven days a week.

Posted by: JD | April 7, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Hey "Done with Baseball" -- come on back to Camden Yards, hon -- we're still here!

Posted by: mark | April 7, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

It's very busy to buy tickets on-line and you can print them from your computer at home or at the office.

Posted by: Loggie | April 7, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

How's the commute look going through L'Enfant right now. I'm especially interested in getting a Yellow line train - any room on the platform?

Posted by: How's it look? | April 7, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Ultimately last night probably wasn't the best test of the Metro and the traffic flow. The crowd wasn't that big due to (a) the cold weather, (b) the threat of rain, (c) competition from the NCAA Tournament, and (d) the Nationals' recent tailspin. The traffic flow after the game was further alleviated by people leaving early due to the Nationals' not playing well (plus, of course, it was a school night). Minimal delay after the game to enter the Navy Yard stop from Half Street. The train was jammed, no surprise there, but changing at Gallery Place proved painless. I was going to walk to Metro Center from Gallery Place to retrieve my car, but there was a Red Line train on the platform and they held it for several minutes to allow for ballpark traffic.

Seemed to work pretty well. The real test will be Friday night, since the weather looks good and since the Caps' first playoff game is at the same time. I won't have any comments since I'm walking to the Caps game :-)

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

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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