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Airport Travel on Inauguration Day

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While I've gotten many questions about what time to leave home to reach the inauguration ceremonies and what's the best route, but one of the most frequently asked questions in the past months is, Will I be able to get to Reagan National Airport on Tuesday?

There are two issues: The roads and the parking areas.

If I had a flight on Tuesday, I'd reserve a cab or an airport shuttle, or take Metro. It's going to be very difficult to drive yourself.

Driving There
The George Washington Parkway, normally a main route to the airport, will be closed in both directions from the Capital Beltway on the American Legion Bridge side to the 14th Street Bridge.That means totally closed. Nobody gets to use it.

Then it becomes more complicated.

Buses and authorized vehicles traveling to National Airport on I-395 may exit onto the southbound GW Parkway for the airport only. All other traffic will need to use Route 1 or transit to reach the airport.

That means you could drive to the airport by taking Route 1 north from the Beltway, near the Wilson Bridge. In fact, that's what I've recommended to several readers, if they feel they need to drive.

Parking
Once they get there, the question becomes whether there will be a place to park in the garage or the economy lot. Parking often is tight at National. But Tuesday's situation is unpredictable. National's garage is right next to a Metrorail station as well as the airport, and Metro parking will be at a premium on Tuesday.

Tara Hamilton, spokeswoman for the airports authority, said employees would be very active in helping air passengers find places to park when they reached the airport. But there are no guarantees. And there are no valets.

Allow lots of extra time for getting to the airport and for finding parking.

Leaving the Airport
Buses and authorized vehicles will be allowed to exit National Airport onto the northbound parkway to enter Washington on the 14th Street Bridge. All other traffic will be allowed to exit the airport via Route 1 or the southbound parkway.

Dulles
Travel to and from Dulles International Airport should not be as difficult, but there are still some things you should know:

Motorists coming to or from Dulles will be able to use the Dulles Access Road, but will not be able to use Interstate 66 eastbound into Washington on Tuesday. Taxis, shuttles, Washington Flyer Coach Service and buses will be allowed to use the interstate eastbound. Metrobus route 5A between Dulles and Washington has extra service but with a signficant change in its stops for inauguration weekend. (See Tools.)

Tools
* The airports authority, realizing that this would be a difficult day, set up a special Web page that includes basic information on getting there and an alerts box for current travel information.
* The National Airport parking page not only shows the parking options, but also presents constant updates on the parking situation. I'm looking at it as I write on Saturday afternoon, and can see that there's plenty of parking in the hourly and daily garages and in the economy lot. Hope it stays that way.
* Here's a link for a printable map of the parking options.
* Use this link if you need parking information about Dulles International Airport, where parking is generally much easier than at National.
* This link will take you to parking information about our third major airport, Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall. BWI also has posted a special page with inauguration weekend information.
* This page on Metro's Web site describes the changes to Metrobus service to and from Dulles and BWI.

By Robert Thomson  |  January 17, 2009; 2:45 PM ET
Categories:  Inauguration  
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