The Road To History Takes Patience
By Patrick Owens/Media General News Service
Published: January 18, 2009
RICHMOND, Va.—If you’re hitting the road, make sure the road doesn’t hit you back.
“Those headed to the historic inauguration will need to take an attitude of adventure and excitement as the journey will be long, creature comforts may be limited, and security will be tight,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
AAA’s Fredericksburg office advises anyone traveling northeast through Thursday to avoid Interstate 95 and the Capital Beltway. If possible, take Interstate 81 north and head east when appropriate. And it might be wise to stay away from U.S. 301 because many people will see this as a main alternate.
“It is important for everyone to understand that driving your personal car to Washington and finding a parking space will be like winning the lottery,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari.
Restrictions: You won’t be able to drive into the District of Columbia from the Virginia side on Inauguration Day. Bridges will be closed to private vehicles. Pedestrians will be allowed to use Arlington Memorial Bridge.
Authorized vehicles include emergency vehicles, buses, taxis, and for-hire limos and car services.
Beginning at 2 a.m. Tuesday, only authorized vehicles will be permitted to travel north on Interstate 395 and east on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway/Interstate 495, the Virginia Department of Transportation says.
All other traffic heading to Washington on Interstate 95 will be diverted at the Springfield interchange (exits 170B and 170C) onto I-495 North (Inner Loop) or I-495/I-95 East (Outer Loop).
Eastbound traffic on I-66 and toward Washington on the Dulles Toll Road will be diverted to the Capital Beltway/I-495.
The American Legion and Woodrow Wilson bridges over the Potomac River between Virginia and Maryland will be open.
In the capital area, many routes will be open only to buses and pedestrians.
Maryland roads into Washington will be kept open to the District line to serve the residents and businesses. But authorities will be prepared to close ramps from the Maryland portion of the Capital Beltway to local roads if traffic backs up onto freeways.
Most roads and bridges are expected to reopen by 7 p.m. Inauguration Day.
Rest areas: VDOT is providing portable toilets at the I-66 and I-95 rest areas in Northern Virginia and Fredericksburg.
Traffic reports: Call 511 from a land line or a cell phone for the latest traffic and travel information. Or tune to WTOP, 103.5 FM, for traffic reports every 10 minutes on the 8s.
Trains: Currently, Amtrak trains from Virginia to Washington serving inaugural events are sold out. But tickets may become available as reservations change. Visit Amtrak’s Web site at http://www.amtrak.com for information on ticket availability.
There are four flights daily on United Express from Richmond International Airport to Washington Dulles International Airport.
Water taxis: The Potomac Riverboat Co. offers water taxi service from Alexandria beginning at 6 a.m. Passengers will arrive 1 mile from the Mall. Tickets go on sale Monday at http://www.inauguralwatertaxi.com.
Metro: Parking lots for the capital area’s Metro system will open at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday. Parking requires $4 cash.
But Steven Taubenkibel, a spokesman for the Metro system, could not make any recommendations on which lots to use. “We expect all lots will be full to capacity,” he said
People wanting to use public transportation should be prepared for extremely crowded conditions all day long, Taubenkibel said. Expect to stand in lines for hours to board trains and buses, and expect standing-room only once on board.
Patrick Owens is a staff writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Times-Dispatch staff writer Peter Bacqué contributed to this report.
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