While many travelers in the D.C. area will be doing holiday shopping at the malls, it’s also a busy weekend for football at FedEx. On Friday night, the Capitals play the Maple Leafs at Verizon Center. On Saturday night, the Eastport Yacht Club’s annual procession of illuminated vessels will light up Annapolis Harbor.
The Capital Weather Gang says everyone should enjoy a sunny, cool weekend. Here’s a look at some of the events and the maintenance work on roads and rails that could affect your travel plans.
Army-Navy game at FedEx
The first Army-Navy football game at FedEx Field is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. It’s sold out.
Get there early. Parking lots open at 8:30 a.m. Tailgating is okay at fans’ cars, but not in empty spaces or driving lanes. The stadium gates open at 9:30 a.m. The security check at the stadium entrances will resemble what travelers encounter at airports.
Army is scheduled to march onto the field at 11:24 a.m., and Navy follows at 12:04 p.m.
Three Capital Beltway interchanges at Landover Road, Arena Drive and Central Avenue offer access to FedEx Field. The Landover Road and Arena Drive exits tend to be the most crowded, especially Landover Road. Central Avenue, the southernmost of the three exits, is the one that the Maryland State Highway Administration recommends to minimize delays.
There’s a lane divide on the Beltway that was created to allow full-time use of the Arena Drive interchange. Game traffic will slow the lanes to the right of the solid white lines. Through traffic should stay to the left of the lines.
This game is likely to create more traffic congestion than the Sunday NFL games at FedEx, because the crowd will be less familiar with the approaches and the parking lots.
Fans should consider taking Metrorail to avoid the traffic, but be sure to check below for a list of delays created by Metro’s weekend maintenance.
The Blue Line’s Morgan Boulevard station is the closest to FedEx. The stadium is a little less than a mile north along a slightly uphill sidewalk. Largo Town Center station, also on the Blue Line, is next closest. Make sure you have your SmarTrip card or paper fare card loaded for a round trip, so you won’t have to wait in a line at fare vending machines after games.
The Capital Weather Gang’s forecast for Saturday: “Any morning clouds should clear out by afternoon as our front moves away. Cold, dry air continues to ride into the region on breezes from the north/northwest blowing more stiffly at 10-15 mph. Winter asks, do you feel me yet? Highs probably don’t do better than the low-to-mid 40s despite the partly to mostly sunny skies.”
And then Sunday ...
The Patriots and Redskins are scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. Sunday at FedEx in their next to last home game of the 2011 season. The season is going a lot better for the Patriots than for the Redskins, so many of the attendees Sunday may be just in from New England and unfamiliar with the approaches to the Landover area.
The parking lots open four hours before Redskins game time, and the stadium gates open two hours before kickoff. Drivers leaving the lots after games will be directed to dedicated lanes to ease congestion. Watch the stadium personnel and the overhead lane lights.
The lots closest to the stadium are open to permit holders only. Use of more than one parking spot for tailgating is permitted only in designated areas.
The team says those who want to tailgate in more than one space will be directed to the back of parking lots, where they will be allowed to occupy additional spaces until required for additional vehicles. Fans who wish to tailgate within a single parking spot will be directed to the front of parking lots.
There are several cash lots off Jericho City Drive, to the southeast of the stadium.
Capital Weather Gang SkinsCast: “Chilly and dry. Dress in layers, have gloves and a hat available, and you’ll be sure to be comfortable.”
Metrorail maintenance delays
The transit authority’s maintenance program will affect travel on all five Metrorail lines this weekend. Riders will encounter delays and schedule changes as trains share tracks from 10 p.m. Friday through the system’s midnight closing Sunday.
Red Line: Trains will share tracks between Van Ness and Friendship Heights and between Takoma and Forest Glen.
Trains between Shady Grove and Glenmont will operate every 24 minutes throughout the weekend. Between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, extra trains will be in service between Van Ness and Takoma, providing service every 12 minutes in the core of the Red Line.
Blue/Orange lines: Blue Line trains will share a track between Foggy Bottom and Arlington Cemetery and Orange Line trains will share a track between Foggy Bottom and Clarendon.
Orange and Blue line trains will leave their terminals every 20 minutes. In the core of the system where the two lines come together, riders should have service about every 10 minutes.
Green/Yellow lines: Green Line trains will share a track between U Street and Georgia Avenue. Metro says Green Line trains will operate at normal weekend service levels with minor delays through the work zone.
Yellow Line trains will operate between Huntington and Mount Vernon Square, rather than continuing north to Fort Totten as they normally do on a weekend.Riders who want to continue north from Mount Vernon Square should switch to the Green Line in the direction of Greenbelt.
Metrobus detours Sunday
Several bus routes will detour Sunday morning around the “Jingle All the Way” 8K Race along Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Louisiana Avenue NW, Third Street and other nearby streets.
Detours are scheduled to begin at 5 a.m. for Routes 32 and 36, and then about 8:45 a.m. for Routes 54, 64, 70, 74, 96, P6, S2, S4 and V8 routes. See Metro’s full list of the Sunday detours.
“Jingle All the Way” race
The race starts at 9 a.m. Sunday at Freedom Plaza, Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street NW. Metro’s Federal Triangle station on the Blue and Orange lines is close by. Also near is the Metro Center station on the Red, Blue and Orange lines. Metro opens at 7 a.m. on Sunday.
Parking is available on local streets, but don’t park on Pennsylvania Avenue between 12th and 14th streets, near the start and finish zone.
Constitution Avenue NW
The National Park Service says that paving operations may continue to adjust manholes and to pave the intersection of 17th Street and Constitution Avenue.
Expect up to two lanes in each direction to be closed between 23rd and 15th streets NW for permanent striping of the roadway, landscaping, traffic signal work, sidewalk construction and clean-up.
George Washington Parkway
The rock stabilization project on the George Washington Parkway continues in the Rosslyn area. It’s scheduled to be done by the end of the month.
Both northbound lanes will close from just north of the Spout Run Parkway exit to Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday, the park service says. They will reopen by 10 p.m. Sunday.
During the closing, northbound traffic must exit the George Washington Parkway at Spout Run Parkway. The GW Parkway northbound lanes from Route 123 to the Capital Beltway will remain open.
The park service is encouraging drivers heading for the Beltway to use westbound Route 50 or exit the GW Parkway at Spout Run Parkway and follow Route 29 south to Interstate 66 west to the Beltway.
Virginia travel times
Starting Monday Dec. 12, the Virginia Department of Transportation will expand the number of highway message boards displaying travel times to the stretch of Interstate 95 between D.C. and Fredericksburg.
The program began in August on I-66 between the Beltway and Gainesville.
The travel times on I-95 will be displayed on the overhead signs from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends at these locations.
Northbound: At Route 234, with the travel time to the Capital Beltway; at Route 123, with the travel time to the Beltway; at the Fairfax County Parkway, with the travel time to the D.C. line.
Southbound: Near the Pentagon, with the travel time to the Beltway; before the Beltway, with the travel time to Route 123; near the Fairfax County Parkway, with the travel time to Route 234; near Lorton, with the travel time to Route 3 in Fredericksburg.