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Inauguration travel tips

January 13, 2009

With the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama just a week away, officials with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, and other Maryland and District of Columbia agencies are offering tips to those planning to attend the events and those living in the area.

People planning to attend the inauguration and/or the parade on Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C., should be able to walk long distances and be prepared to stand for long periods of time, the agency said in a press release.

Transportation into and out of the area will be difficult, and area transit agencies will have special schedules and ticket policies that day.

Those planning to attend the inauguration also need to pay attention to weather forecasts for Inauguration Day and be aware of security measures that will be in place, the release says.

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Officials suggest area residents who are not planning to attend the festivities avoid driving in or near the nation's capital and key public transportation stations on Jan. 20.

Officials also suggest that those who work in the Washington area ask their employers if it would be possible to telecommute that day.

"Leave more time than usual if you must go to your workplace that day, and check ahead for traffic, transit and parking restrictions," the release cautions. "Area transit and highway Web sites should be updated with closures and schedule changes as the inaugural nears."

Maryland Department of Transportation officials provided the following information and advice:

o Inaugural attendees should understand no matter what mode of transportation they plan to use, movement in and out of Washington and the surrounding area on Inauguration Day is expected to be extremely challenging.

o Attendees are strongly urged to plan ahead, as the region's transit systems will be operating at capacity, travel on the road network in and out of the Washington area might be severely restricted, and parking will be limited. Charter buses will be the only vehicles allowed to park within walking distance of the event.

o Due to the security restrictions in and around the National Mall, all of the access roads into and around the Mall will be tightly controlled. Passenger car and commercial vehicle traffic will be restricted in downtown Washington. Many routes in the Washington area will only be open to buses and pedestrians.

o Event organizers warn of the potential for long waits at transit stations and security checkpoints.

o The best advice for those attending events on Inauguration Day is to plan early, arrive early, be prepared to walk and be patient.

MARC commuter rail

On Inauguration Day, all MARC trains to Washington will require the purchase of a special round-trip ticket. No regular MARC tickets will be accepted.

MARC train service will operate inbound to Washington from 5 to 9 a.m. and outbound from 4 to 9 p.m. on all three lines -- Penn, Camden and Brunswick. Penn Line service will not operate north of Baltimore's Penn Station.

Passengers can board MARC trains at selected stops along all the lines to and from Washington's Union Station.

NOTE: The Maryland Transit Administration announced Monday that tickets for MARC trains on Inauguration Day are sold out.

Transit officials are encouraging those who want to travel to Washington on Jan. 20 to use a special Commuter Bus service to Metrorail stops (see below).

Metrorail

On Inauguration Day, Metrorail will operate rush-hour service for 17 consecutive hours -- 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. -- and will stay open for two extra hours, until 2 a.m. The charge for parking at its facilities will be $4.

Metro officials expect extremely crowded conditions on Inauguration Day, with stations and trains packed as people head to the inauguration. Patrons should expect to see even tighter conditions afterward.

For information, go to www.wmata.com/getting_around/metro_events/inauguration.cfm.

MTA commuter bus

The Maryland Transit Administration will operate commuter bus shuttle service between 4 and 9 a.m. into Metrorail stations, and between 4 and 9 p.m. from the Metrorail stations.

Reservations are not required and tickets can be purchased onboard.

All shuttles will charge a $10 round-trip fare paid in exact change only.

For operating times and departure locations, go to www.mtamaryland.com/services/marc.

On the roads

Motorists and truck operators traveling through the Maryland/Washington, D.C., region but not stopping in the area are advised to avoid main highways such as Interstates 95 and 270, Interstate 495/Capital Beltway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

Alternative north-south routes listed below should be considered:

o West of the Washington area -- Interstate 81 and U.S. 340/15

o East of the Washington area -- U.S. 301 and U.S. 13/113

For alternate route information, go to www.marylandroads.com.

D.C. parking

Washington officials say a number of roadways will be posted as Emergency No Parking zones from 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19, through 7 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21.

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