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New Advice on Inauguration Day Travel

As Jan. 20 approaches, we'll get more specific advice from planners about the conditions that will prevail downtown. Some previously announced details may change, as they did last week when the charter bus parking plan was revised.

But this isn't changing: The planners consistently warn that travel for everyone, whether they're commuters or people planning to watch the swearing-in and parade, will be extremely difficult.

Monday's announcement from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies highlighted that. The announcement dealt with the difficulties of attending the swearing-in at the Capitol.

"In addition to the 240,000 ticketed guests, a million or more people are expected to view the inauguration from the National Mall between 4th Street and the Lincoln Memorial, along with hundreds of thousands of others who plan on watching the Inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue," the committee said in its statement.

Okay, if you know that, what do you know? It's not your fault, but you're going to have a tough day and need to have a plan.

Here's how the committee statement put it:

"We recommend planning ahead, but also caution that any plans made in advance should be double-checked in the days and hours prior to the event in case of changes to transportation schedules, street and other closures, and other factors that may impact your travel plans."

And have a backup plan in the likely event that Plan A goes astray because of some problem you didn't anticipate. Remember, we don't get to practice this. It's not like working out a plan to get to Nationals Park or FedEx Field after the first bad experience. We get one chance at Inauguration Day.

The latest logistical information from the committee is consistent with what we've been hearing:

"A security perimeter will be established around the U.S. Capitol and the parade route on or before January 20, 2009. Subway stations, bus stops, and streets within that perimeter will be closed. Street closures throughout Washington, D.C., will make traveling by car or taxi very difficult. Bridges from Virginia crossing the Potomac River into Washington, D.C., as well as major roadways from Maryland into Washington, D.C., may be closed to all but bus traffic."

Then the committee goes on to recommend how to get to the swearing-in at the Capitol. If you're thinking about being part of history, weigh these not-so-fun parts of the day. And if you're just heading for work, consider what this implies about your ability to get around:

"For those people who will be staying within 2 Miles of the U.S. Capitol, walking to the swearing-in ceremony will be the most reliable method of reaching the ticketed seated and standing areas. Be sure to carefully plan your return trip as well - it won't be possible to cross the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route, except at designated points and Metro will be extremely crowded."

Beyond 2 Miles of the U.S. Capitol: Use public transportation to get you as close as possible to the U.S. Capitol and walk from there.

This is a good bookmark: As plans develop, we post all the lastest news at Inauguration Central.

By Robert Thomson  |  December 30, 2008; 9:24 AM ET
Categories:  Inauguration  
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What about those of us who have to actually work that day? (Police and Fire fighters) Are accomodations being made to allow us to enter "secure" areas so that we can get to our units?

Posted by: DCgovtemployee | December 30, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Do you anticipate any problems commuting from Maryland 495 into Alexandria, Va. via the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on the 20th?

Posted by: bmurphy1 | December 30, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: bmurphy1, I think you'll have one of the easier commutes that day. The Wilson Bridge will be open, as will the rest of the Beltway. There may be some unusual congestion around interchanges for the routes leading into Washington, but you can probably avoid that by staying left.

Once you get across the bridge, you might encounter some unusual congestion at the Route 1 or Telegraph Road interchanges, but it should be manageable. I'll let you know here on the blog about any changes affecting that trip. But before leaving home on Jan. 20, turn on TV and WTOP, and check our Web site for updates.

Posted by: rtthomson1 | December 30, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, it would be nice if they could give us just a few more details here. The powers that be tell us to plan ahead, but won't tell us what roads will be closed, when and for how long they will be close, what subway stations will be closed, etc. Why no specifics?

I'm starting to get just a bit concerned when I hear things like "major routes from Maryland might be restricted to all but bus traffic...". I live on one of those so-called major routes from Maryland...does that mean I won't be able to get to and from my own driveway?

What about this shuttle bus service from Virginia? They say the bridges are going to be closed to all but busses, and thus everyone coming from VA will have to park in Arlington (who knows where though, probably on neighborhood streets) and take shuttle busses over to DC, but zero details on that.

Posted by: thetan | December 30, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Because of the number of people expected to try to get to the Mall, I wonder how people coming into DC from north of Pennsylvania Ave (like into Union Station)
are going to get back and forth across Pennsylvania Ave before and after the swearing in.

Is finding an open Metro stop south of the Mall the best bet to get back to say, Union Station? What about walking around the back of the Capitol?

Posted by: wilmington10 | December 31, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm curious about getting word out regarding the parking facilities at Metro stops. If it's really true that all of Greenbelt will be reserved for charter buses, then will those in cars coming down from the north (via I-95 and the BWP) instead head over to New Carrollton? And is parking at non-terminal MD stops (e.g. Deanwood, Cheverly) going to be pointless if the train is completely packed at New Carrollton?

I'm coming in from the Annapolis area, and instead considering the Largo Station or some of the stations on the Green Line. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Posted by: jpgdlc | December 31, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Anyone in DC for the inauguration might be interested in this guide: "Where to Pee in DC: An Insider's Guide for the Inauguration" Sounds goofy, but with the shortage of available bathrooms around the Mall, this downloadable guide might be the best money spent on the inauguration. It highlights a bunch of lesser known bathrooms, plus it gives good tips and tactics for accessing them. It's on ebay for $3.75 (item # 120351046988).

Posted by: jlynn432 | December 31, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I haven't seen anything yet on the re-routing of metrobuses. They need to post maps of the metrobus detours soon so we CAN make a plan B.

Posted by: NatsNut | January 2, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Will the bridges (i.e. 14th, Memorial) from Virgina to DC reopen on Inaguration evening?

Also, will Rock Creek Parkway be closed?

Posted by: tlalonde | January 5, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

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