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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 05/03/2012

Capitals, Nationals this weekend: How to deal with Metrorail disruptions

Just as fans are swarming to Nationals Park and Verizon Center this weekend, Metro rebuilding projects will disrupt service on all five rail lines. What’s a fan to do?

The biggest problem will most likely be on the Green Line. Navy Yard is the closest Metrorail station to Nationals Park. Gallery Place, also served by the Yellow and Red lines, is the closest stop to Verizon Center.

Many fans use the huge lot at Greenbelt station, at the north end of the Green Line, as a parking spot for rail trips directly to the games. The next few stations down the line also are popular, especially with parking free on weekends at the Metro lots and garages.

But this weekend, free shuttle buses will replace Green Line trains between Greenbelt and Fort Totten. The stations at Greenbelt, College Park, Prince George’s Plaza and West Hyattsville will be closed. Metro estimates that using the shuttle buses will add about 50 minutes to normal travel times.

The Nationals weekend games are with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals have been urging their fans to attend, to overcome the roar from the Phillies fans who drive down I-95 to attend such series. The games at Nationals Park are scheduled for 7:05 p.m Friday, 1:05 p.m. Saturday and 8:05 p.m. Sunday (ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast).

The Capitals’ fourth game against the New York Rangers is set for 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Verizon Center.

All this creates several challenges for fans.

The first is the Friday night schedule. Fans who do their normal thing and park at one of the outer stations on the north side of the Green Line will reach Nationals Park as usual. But the service disruptions start at 10 p.m. So if the game runs its normal course, they’ll be taking Green Line trains to Fort Totten, but then will have to board buses for the rest of the trip back to the cars.

Fans will have interesting trips Saturday as well. As commenter 1995hoo pointed out on a previous posting that detailed the Metro disruptions, the Nats game and the Caps game both start in the early afternoon. So there’s likely to be a lot of red-clad riders sharing a little space on Green Line platforms and trains in the late morning/early afternoon, and possibly in the late afternoon, depending on how the games turn out.

Crowding won’t be exclusive to the Green Line. The big transfer stations at L’Enfant Plaza and Metro Center, as well as Gallery Place, are crowded before and after games under just about any circumstances.

Because of the Green Line work, the Yellow Line trains that normally run north to Fort Totten during off-peak periods and weekends are going to terminate at Mount Vernon Square. Riders from those trains who want to continue north will have to board Green Line trains on the same platform.

Some suggestions

Fans who would normally board trains along the north part of the Green Line could board instead at the Orange Line’s New Carrollton station, or head for the south end of the Green Line at Branch Avenue.

Under other circumstances, I might recommend that fans driving from north of D.C.divert to the Red Line’s Glenmont or Silver Spring stations, where there is plenty of parking, but weekend work on the east side of the Red Line means those train rides also will be delayed.

Another option on the Green Line is to use I-295/DC 295 to reach the parking garage at Anacostia station. That’s one stop south of Navy Yard station. The south part of the Green Line (Navy Yard to Branch Avenue) is usually less crowded before and after games than the north part.

If the weather is good Saturday afternoon, a Nats fan might walk across the Douglass Bridge (South Capitol Street and Howard Road SE) to get between Nationals Park and the Anacostia garage. Keep an eye on the Capital Weather Gang’s forecast, which now shows a chance of rain Friday and Saturday.

For some who normally use the east side of the Red Line, it might be worth driving to the garage at Union Station and catching the Red Line there for the trip to Gallery Place. The benefit is that Metro will have extra trains operating on that line in the downtown core Saturday and Sunday between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Metro also says it will have extra trains on standby to relieve platform crowding before and after the games.

When the Capitals game went to triple overtime Wednesday night and Metro extended service past the normal midnight closing on weeknights, fans were directed to use the Gallery Place station entrance.

But under more normal circumstances, it’s sometimes better to walk a little to a potentially less crowded station nearby. Walking west, there’s Metro Center. Walking east, there’s Judiciary Square.

For Nats games, it’s possible to avoid getting stuck at the crowded L’Enfant Plaza transfer station by continuing on the Blue or Orange lines to Capitol South, and walking down New Jersey Avenue SE to the Nationals Park area.

The D.C. Circulator bus provides an alternative connection, linking Navy Yard station, Eastern Market station and Union Station.

Other options

There’s more off-street parking now to the north and west of Nationals Park, though Nats fans are going to be competing with Phillies fans for that. Also, games that tend to draw a lot of out-of-towners also tend to add congestion to the area around South Capitol and M streets, the Southeast-Southwest Freeway, the 14th, 11th street and Douglass bridges and I-295/DC 295.

Ride a bike to the stadium. There are more than 250 bike racks around Nationals Park, and a free bike valet service is available in Garage C at N and First streets SE. Capital Bikeshare has four stations within walking distance: First and N streets SE; M Street and New Jersey Avenue SE; First and K streets SE; and Fourth and M streets SW.

Here are some walking routes:

●From L’Enfant Plaza, walk south on Seventh Street, go left on I Street and continue south on Sixth Street to M Street SW. Turn left and walk to South Capitol Street.

●From Federal Center SW, come down Third Street, turn right on E Street, left down Fourth Street, left on I Street to a right on Third Street, then a left on M Street SW.

●From the Capitol area, walkers can proceed down South Capitol Street, but I prefer New Jersey Avenue. It’s a straightforward route to M Street SE, and about 15 minutes from the Capitol South Metro station.

●From Eastern Market, walk south on Eighth Street and make a right on M Street SE.

By  |  11:20 AM ET, 05/03/2012

Categories:  Metro, Events | Tags:  DC transportation, Metro, WMATA, Washington Nationals, Washington Capitals

 
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