D.C. will push Nats fans to Metro

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Local,Michael Neibauer

Limited highway access, clogged neighborhood streets, ongoing construction and an uncertain number of parking spaces await Washington Nationals fans who drive to the new 41,000-seat Southeast ballpark when it opens next April.

The District will push transit in response, hoping that a majority of fans won’t try to navigate in their cars the traffic quagmire that is South Capitol Street at 7 p.m. on a weeknight.

"We have a three-pronged message — take Metro, take Metro, take Metro," D.C. Department of Transportation spokesman Erik Linden said.

Of the estimated 37,750 attendees for a weeknight sellout, 52 percent would use some form of transit, according to the draft version of the Transportation, Operations and Parking Plan, the government’s manual for marshaling traffic into and out of the ballpark. Another 13,600 fans would arrive in 4,700 vehicles, 3,400 by foot or bike, 750 by charter bus and 400 by taxi.

"We want to influence everyone who has the choice to make the right choice and take Metro," Gorove/Slade Associates Vice President Louis Slade said. Gorove/Slade Associates is developing the operations plan for the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission.

The Navy Yard Metro station, which will handle the vast majority of transit riders, is undergoing a $20 millionexpansion to triple capacity. Other stations, notably Capitol South, are within walking distance.

Ballpark neighbors, who fear they’ll be trapped on game days, say transit ridership is their only hope.

"Folks are going to have to be told to take Metro," Southwest Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Andy Litsky said.

There could be as many as 5,207 parking spaces, most in private garages and surface lots, available for game-day use within several blocks of the stadium, according to the draft plan. But the team and the city will have to negotiate access to those spaces.

The report also suggests running a shuttle service from the RFK Stadium parking lots, extending the Circulator bus service, discouraging on-street parking and shifting traffic to controlled routes. Wider sidewalks and streetlights should ease the walk to the park, as will the permanent closure to vehicles of Half Street between the Metro station and the stadium.

"We think we’ll get all these pieces together," D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission Chief Executive Officer Allen Lew said.

mneibauer@dcexaminer.com

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Michael Neibauer

D.C. Government Reporter
The Washington Examiner