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Planning for Inauguration Travel

Readers already are asking what streets will be closed on Jan. 20 and what plans Metro has made. All that is still in the works, but here's the type of thing people are wondering about.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I plan to come to Washington on Inauguration Day whether or not we get tickets, to be part of history. We have a place to stay with friends in Silver Spring. But I'm worried about how Metro will handle the crowds for this event, which will probably be bigger than anything seen in recent years.

We live in the Philadelphia area and our transit system, SEPTA, suffered a total meltdown during the Phillies' World Series parade when three times the normal peak-hour crowd attempted to use it. Some people were stuck on subway platforms for three hours, unable to go back upstairs because of the crush of humanity and unable to get on overcrowded trains.

What are the plans? Will we be able to get to the parade -- and back?
Dan Goldfischer
Havertown, Pa.

I said to come on down. Planning is still underway, but Metrorail should be able to handle the crowds. People should plan on buying day passes. Out of towners will be able to get them online. Metro is deciding whether to have a special pass for Inauguration Day.

For Dan, taking the Red Line from Silver Spring, I'd suggest he get off somewhere between Union Station and Metro Center and walk down toward the mall, rather than try to reach the very closest stations, which are likely to be the most crowded. Same on the way back.

What inaugural transportation issues do you anticipate that I should be looking at?

I'll pass along information on Get There, but The Post also has launched Inauguration Watch, a blog to update anything and everything about what could be the country's largest-ever inauguration. Go to

By Robert Thomson  |  November 18, 2008; 12:31 PM ET
Categories:  Congestion , Events  
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People planning to use the Metro should pay CLOSE attention and not set their plans in stone. In 2005, several downtown stations were closed, including Federal Triangle and at least some exits from Metro Center, because they fell within the secured perimeter. (I worked across the street from Hecht's at the time and we were told to remove our cars from the parking garage before 7 PM on January 19; otherwise, we would not be able to remove them until January 21.)

Posted by: 1995hoo | November 18, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Tell them to bring their bikes.

Posted by: cranor | November 18, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I plan on taking the red line to Dupont, then bailing out and walking the rest of the way. It's only about 2 miles to the Capitol from there.

Posted by: thornwalker1 | November 18, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I'll second the idea of exiting the Red Line somwhere downtown and walking to the festivities. Security perimeter will probably extend right up to Archives, L'Enfant Plaza and Fed Triangle Metro stations, if not beyond them.

Metro will be able to handle the crowds. Even during the busiest days this summer (with 3 of the top ten days EVER), we were all able to get around, on-time for the most part, just with less personal space.

Posted by: xrvax | November 18, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

The perimeter will be well beyond Archives, given that Pennsylvania Avenue is the parade route. Expect that the Verizon Center exit from Gallery Place MIGHT be just outside the perimeter.

Posted by: 1995hoo | November 18, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

The other thing to consider is that DC gets 'cut in two' for the parade. Pennsylvania Avenue becomes a 'no-go' zone so if you are on the Capitol/Mall side for the swearing in ceremony, you'll have a bit of a problem getting over to the Red Line stations and others which are North of Pennsylvania Avenue. I don't think they will allow people to cross, so you might end up looping around the Capitol or The White House just to cross PA Avenue (a distance of about 2 miles).

My only other advice is DRESS WARM! These things are often very very cold, especially when you have to spend several hours outside.

Posted by: idiparker | November 18, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Metro will change their train routes into the July 4th structure? Where it's all about getting to/from the Mall.

Posted by: VelocityAtrocity | November 20, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

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