Walking that last mile (or so) on Inauguration Day


A map provided by the Secret Service shows main walking routes and access points for the Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue.

As we try to advise people on getting to and from inauguration events Monday, I want to consider the most basic, and perhaps most important, mode of travel: your own feet. Treat them well, because on the last part of the trek to the swearing-in or the parade, they will be very important. And if all goes well, you should thank them afterward.

A car, a bus, a Metro train will get you only so far. Either the crowd or the security perimeter is going to halt the progress of a surface vehicle, and the trains can’t deliver you to the Mall or parade route.

On Sunday’s Commuter page (page C2 of The Post Metro section), I plan to offer guidance on walking routes, but here’s a preview.

The single most important thing to know about walking around downtown D.C. on Monday is that Pennsylvania Avenue’s parade route will create a barrier to pedestrians as well as vehicles. And some of you who recall that the Third Street Tunnel formed a major north-south route for pedestrians during the 2009 inauguration will want to know that it won’t be a walking route this time.

The main north-south corridor on Capitol Hill will be along Second and Third streets, on the east side of the Capitol building. If you look at the map above, you’ll see that planners have created a sort of pedestrian beltway around the Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue.

The big east-west routes north of the parade will be D, E, H and I (Eye) streets NW and Massachusetts Avenue NW. South of the parade route, the heavy foot traffic will be on Constitution and Independence avenues as far east as Seventh Street, which also will be open to pedestrians. Continuing along the pedestrian beltway created by the security plans, north-south Seventh Street links with east-west I (Eye) Street south of the Mall. I (Eye) Street connects with New Jersey and North Carolina avenues for those trying to reach Second and Third streets.

Walking from Metro

Many — if not most — people attending the ceremonies will be walking from Metrorail stations or bus stops. Some decisions about walking routes have been made for you: The Archives, Smithsonian and Mount Vernon Square stations will be closed. Those with tickets to the swearing-in should follow the guidance they were provided and use the Capitol South, Federal Center SW, Union Station and Judiciary Square stations, closest to the Capitol.

Those with tickets for the parade viewing area near the White House will want to use Farragut North, Farragut West and McPherson Square.

But for the parts of the Mall and the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route open to the general public, spend some time reviewing a map showing the parade route and the big security zone before picking a station from which to walk.

Metro Center will be very convenient to the north side of the parade route, but very inconvenient for walking to the Mall, because of the need to make a wide swing around Pennsylvania Avenue. A better station on the Red Line for reaching the Mall would be Farragut North.

The best station overall for reaching the general public area on the Mall will be L’Enfant Plaza, but it’s likely to be extremely crowded shortly before and after the swearing-in and speech.

From bus stops

Metrobus service will be frequent, but once again, the buses will stop a very healthy walking distance from the Mall and parade route. See my previous posting on bus travel to the inauguration.

The D.C. Circulator buses would normally be another great way of getting around downtown, but all Circulator bus service will be suspended Monday.

Security checks

People attending the parade and other events are subject to a security screening. Build in extra travel time for that. These items are banned from the parade route: Aerosols, ammunition, animals other than service animals, backpacks, bags and signs exceeding 8 inches by 6 inches by 4 inches and supports for signs, bicycles, balloons, coolers, explosives, firearms, glass or thermal containers, laser pointers, Mace and pepper spray, weapons of any kind, packages, structures, and anything else that the security people decide could be a hazard.

The list of banned items for the ticketed viewing areas on the Capitol grounds is a bit different, so here goes: Aerosols, air horns, alcoholic beverages, animals other than service animals, backpacks, coolers, duffel bags, large bags, explosives, firearms and ammunition, glass containers, sharp objects of any length, laser pointers, Mace and  pepper spray, packages, pocket or hand tools, portable chairs other than those for disabled persons, posters and signs, sticks or poles, suitcases, strollers, thermoses, umbrellas and anything else that security people decide could be a hazard.

Other resources:

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.

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Dana Hedgpeth · January 16, 2013

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