You’ve got the day off. You’ve dug out the heavy socks, sweaters and jackets for the kids. You’ve mapped out the perfect spot to watch the swearing-in ceremony. But where will you enter the National Mall? Where will you grab a bottle of water if little Zachary gets thirsty or take him to the restroom? We’ve compiled some information essential for a successful outing.
METRO AND TRAINS
The most efficient means of travel will be Metrorail. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is expecting more than 500,000 people to ride the rail to inaugural events downtown. Metrorail will run from 4 a.m. on January 21 to 2 a.m. on January 22 and regular parking rates are in effect for Metro parking lots. The Smithsonian, Archives and Mount Vernon Square stations will be closed. WMATA spokesperson Phillip Stewart suggested that riders “charge up their Smart Cards” prior to January 21 to avoid travel delays.
Metrobus will run on a normal morning rush hour service and early afternoon rush hour schedule but routes will have several detours due to inaugural events.
Metroaccess will service riders with the same schedules of Metrorail and Metrobus.
For MARC train riders, the Penn and Brunswick lines will run starting at 7a.m. and 7:30 a.m., respectively, with the Penn line’s last train at 7 p.m. and the Brunswick line’s last train at 5p.m. Both trains will have reserved ticketing and cost $25 per round trip.
ACCESSING THE NATIONAL MALL AND PARADE ROUTES
Access points for the parade will open at 6:30 a.m. and security checkpoints along the National Mall will open at 8 a.m. The Secret Service suggested that visitors dress warmly, comfortably and practice patience because lines may be long. The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) suggested bringing beverages and food to stay hydrated, but refrain from bringing prohibited items. Aerosols, backpacks, large bags, balloons, bicycles, coolers, glass or thermal containers, horns, lasers pointers, mace/pepper spray, packages, structures, sign supports, umbrellas and any items deemed dangerous will not be permitted.
No animals will be allowed except guide dogs.
CELL PHONE SERVICE
All of the major cell phone carriers—AT&T, Sprint/Nextel, T- Mobile and Verizon—have added cell towers on the National Mall to prevent overload of the wireless system, however access may be limited in some areas.
ASSISTANCE AND INFORMATION
Anyone requiring assistance downtown can contact 311 to get help. Tech savvy inaugural visitors seeking information at the touch of a button can use the Presidential Inauguration App for smartphones. The app, released by the PIC on January 14, provides information such as how to access the swearing-in ceremony and parade, the nearest Metro stops, restrooms and food vendors and a list of prohibited items.
FOOD, WATER AND RESTROOMS
A limited number of vendors will provide food on the National Mall, but several nearby museums will be the best options for food, water, warming-up, resting and restrooms. Museum entrances on the National Mall side will be closed; most can be accessed via Independence Avenue.
Driving near downtown Washington is not suggested, especially during morning hour. Those who decide to brave the streets will find some major routes into the city and some major thoroughfares closed. The Third Street Tunnel will be closed to all pedestrian and vehicle traffic. The Memorial Bridge will be open to pedestrians and authorized vehicles only. Roosevelt Bridge traffic will be directed to the northbound I-66 or the Whitehurst Freeway. Starting at 5:30 a.m., 14th Street Bridge traffic will be diverted to the Southeast-Southwest Freeway.
Streets within in the security perimeter will be limited to pedestrian traffic and authorized vehicles. The security zone includes a wide swath of downtown from 18th Street NW to the west, K Street NW to the north, Massachusetts Avenue NW to the northeast, 2nd Street NE to the east and E Street SW to the south. These areas will be closed from 3a.m.-7 p.m. on January 21.
For information about routes into the city and road closures, go to http://tinyurl.com/cvx9qgl