Last Minute Preparations
* There are long lines at the ticket kiosks at Metro's Union Station stop, with people standing 10 deep. The trains are crowded almost as bad as rush hour, reports the Post's Mary Beth Sheridan.
* The size of the Metropolitan Police Department has more than doubled now that an additional 4,000 officers from across the country have been sworn in to protect the national capital area during the swearing-in ceremony, reports the Post's Hamil R. Harris. Police spokeswoman Nicole Ha said 1,231 officers from police departments around the Washington region and 2,800 officers from across the county took the oath to protect the area.
National Guard and Army troops are walking the streets in groups of three, and near the Capitol law enforcement officials are using high chain-link fencing.
* National Guard officials today said last-minute preparations for the largest-ever deployment of citizen soldiers in the District were proceeding smoothly despite a shakeup that required the Guard to find new housing for nearly 1,000 troops, and frozen water pipes that left another 1,000 troops without showers at their temporary barracks inside a shuttered Northeast school, reports the Post's Aaron Davis.
Permitting problems and issues related to Sunday’s concert on the step of the Lincoln meant a contractor did not have enough time to pitch a tent for the troops on a patch of grass between the monument and Constitution Avenue. Frozen pipes at Brookland Elementary School, one of seven closed schools the Guard is using to house troops, also meant there was water today for only one portable shower unit for the troops.
Maj. Andrew Weber, who is coordinating logistics for the Guard’s deployment in the District, said the Guard formulated a backup housing plan with the help of the Smithsonian: Troops were preparing to bunk down last night in the basement of the Smithsonian Castle, the museum’s red sandstone welcome center on the Mall.
Guardsmen from many of the 25 states that volunteered troops could be seen walking the mall today , snapping pictures and acting more like tourists than the Special Police with arrest powers they were deputized as over the weekend.
Most of the 7,000 soldiers in the District were due to report to duty by 4 a.m. at the Malll, parade route, parking areas and roadblocks they will man tomorrow. Nearly 3,000 additional troops also finished arriving today at Andrews Air Force Base and other areas just outside the District. They will remain on standby to enter the District only in case of an emergency.
* The Virginia Department of Transportation issued the following weather alert: "Motorists should be alert for possible freezing conditions during their travels overnight Monday and on Tuesday morning throughout Central Virginia. Snow is expected in the area during the afternoon Monday and into the evening although minimal accumulation is forecast. While roads should remain clear of snow the pavement may be wet through the afternoon and evening. ... VDOT has deployed significant resources, including mobile traffic cameras, message boards and the 511 telephone system and Web site to provide real-time information to motorists traveling to the Washington region. In the Fredericksburg and Northern Virginia regions tune the car radio to 1620 AM to receive traffic information on the Highway Advisory Radio.
* And the Maryland Department of Transportation says, "Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) crews are treating state roads with salt as precipitation continues. Motorists are advised to use extreme caution as road conditions are changing rapidly.
Westbound I-70 at the Frederick/Washington County line is closed due to a multi-vehicle crash. Emergency crews are responding to treat people and clear the road, which may take several hours. SHA is detouring traffic to northbound MD 17 to westbound US 40. Traffic is backed up for approximately five or six miles.
Traffic along other interstates in Maryland is light and moving at speed. However, as the temperatures drop, all drivers should use caution, be prepared for icy spots and reduce speed. Crews will continue to treat roads with salt throughout the evening."
* We told you earlier about snow removal plans in the District in case of a storm.
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