Visitors should plan ahead for inauguration trip

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Local,DC,Transportation,Liz Essley,Inauguration

As many as 700,000 people are expected to pour into D.C. for President Obama's second inauguration on Monday, flooding the city's trains, roads and planes.

And the experts' No. 1 tip? Plan ahead -- especially because cellphone and mobile data service will likely be spotty.

"You need to have a game plan," said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend. "You need to know where you're going."

Townsend recommends that suburbanites leave home by 5 or 6 a.m. to be in place for the 11:30 a.m. swearing-in, and District Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle said to avoid driving if possible.

Some things you'll need to know about getting to the inauguration:

Metro

This is probably the best travel option. Trains will run from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m. The Archives, Mt. Vernon Square and Smithsonian stations will be closed, and the northbound Yellow Line train won't go past Gallery Place. No bikes are allowed on trains. Only people with inauguration tickets should use the Union Station, Judiciary Square, Capitol South and Federal Center SW stations. The National Mall can be accessed from the Arlington Cemetery, Farragut North, Farragut West, Foggy Bottom, L'Enfant Plaza, McPherson Square, Metro Center and Waterfront stations, but the walk could be up to 1.7 miles.

Metrobus

Metrobuses will run on morning rush and early-evening rush schedules. Riders should allow time for major detours around the National Mall.

MARC

The commuter train service is running six morning trains on the Penn Line and one train on the Brunswick Line but will have no service on the Camden Line. Commemorative $25 tickets are for sale on Inauguration Day.

Va. Railway Express and D.C. Circulator

Neither is running on Inauguration Day.

Driving

Streets surrounding the National Mall, Capitol and White House will be closed. Major routes into the city will be restricted or closed, including the 14th Street, Roosevelt and Memorial bridges and the Third Street Tunnel. Northbound HOV lanes along Interstate 95 will close at 9 a.m. On-street parking will be free if it can be found, but parking won't be allowed on most streets near the security perimeter.

"You'd be foolhardy to drive," said Townsend, "but people will try."

Flying

All three regional airports -- Ronald Reagan Washington National, Washington Dulles International and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall -- will be busy, particularly Tuesday when thousands head home. Airport officials recommend arriving two to four hours early and checking in online. Precheck, which can speed passengers on specific airlines through security lines, is available at all three airports. Visit tsa.gov for eligibility rules. Dulles is using one runway exclusively for the hundreds of private planes expected.

Getting through security on the Mall

The Transportation Security Administration is deploying metal detectors and 675 officers to screen the hundreds of thousands of people expected on the Mall and Capitol Hill. Allow time to clear security. Many items are banned and will be confiscated, including knives, guns, sticks, poles, signs, backpacks, suitcases, thermoses, coolers, baby strollers, umbrellas, laser pointers, glass containers, pepper spray, alcohol and portable chairs.

Examiner Staff Writer Kytja Weir contributed to this report.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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Liz Essley

Staff Writer - Transportation
The Washington Examiner