The weekend and beyond: baseball, basketball and blossoms


Forecasters say the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin, seen in a 2012 photo, will reach their peak this coming week. (Charles Dharapak – AP)

The cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin won’t reach their predicted peak until the middle of this coming week, but streets in the central part of D.C. are bound to be crowded with cars and pedestrians this Easter weekend. Metro’s moratorium on major weekend track work continues till the blossom festival ends.

Friday should remain mostly sunny, for those heading to the afternoon exhibition game at Nationals Park. Saturday looks like the better of the two weekend days, the Capital Weather Gang says. Easter Sunday will be cloudy, with a chance of showers.

Verizon Center’s doors open at 3 p.m. Saturday for the 4:30 p.m. NCAA eastern regional basketball game between Marquette and Syracuse. See previous posting for details on getting to and from Verizon Center.

Nationals Park

See an earlier posting with details about getting to Friday’s exhibition game with the New York Yankees at Nationals Park. (And it should help for Monday afternoon’s opening day game, too.)

After Mark Berman and I wrote our guide for the 2013 season, one traveler wrote in to express confusion about a Metro tip I had offered. I wrote that fans heading toward Alexandria or Springfield after games can change to the Yellow Line at L’Enfant Plaza. But they might be better off staying on the Green Line for one more stop and making their switch at Archives. Archives probably will be less crowded, and it has a center platform, so transferring riders can just walk across to their Yellow Line trains.

The traveler said he was confused by that, because the Metro map doesn’t show Archives as a transfer station. (It doesn’t have that big dark circle you see on the map around L’Enfant Plaza, Gallery Place, Metro Center and some other junctions.)

But Archives, like other stations where you see two lines running parallel to each other, also allows riders to switch between trains. Archives is relatively easy, because it has the center platform rather than separate platforms along the station walls.

Cherry Blossom Festival

Saturday is the kite festival. The weather looks pretty good. Competitions and open kite-flying areas will draw many participants and spectators to the Washington Monument grounds from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nearest Metrorail stations: Smithsonian and Federal Triangle. (Smithsonian station will be especially crowded any day during the festival when the weather is good and there are big events around the Mall.)

Check The Post’s Going Out Guide for other National Cherry Blossom Festival events.

Festival travel tips

Riding Metrorail. The transit authority notes that ridership can spike by 15 percent during blossom season, and the weekend ridership can approach weekday levels. Metro will suspend its weekend track work program through Sunday, April 14. Despite the crowding, taking Metrorail will almost always be better than driving to downtown Washington because of the traffic congestion.

Walking. Smithsonian is the Metro station closest to the Tidal Basin, but it’s jammed at blossom time. If you’re up for a little more walking, get off at L’Enfant Plaza, Federal Triangle or Foggy Bottom. For a great walk in good weather, get off the Blue Line at Arlington Cemetery station and cross the Potomac River on the Memorial Bridge, past the Lincoln Memorial to the Tidal Basin.

Consult visitor maps on downtown streets or the ones posted by the National Park Service around the Mall. Bus shelters often have maps.

Biking. Capital Bikeshare has many bike stations along the Mall. See a map at www.capitalbikeshare.com. You can sign up to be a member for 24 hours, three days, a month or a year, then take a bike from any station. The first 30 minutes of each trip are free; riders pay an additional fee for every 30 minutes.

Riding around the Mall and East Potomac Park is delightful, but bike parking is limited. There is some parking near the Washington Monument and by the Jefferson Memorial.

Parking. Parking near the Tidal Basin during blossom time is extremely scarce, and traffic is heavy. Drivers can park at Hains Point and take a shuttle. Very limited parking for disabled people is available near the memorials.

Smartphone apps. The National Cherry Blossom Festival (www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org) has a helpful app for mobile phones that includes a map and events calendar. Among other apps with walking maps: City Walks for Washington, D.C.; and the National Park Service National Mall and Memorial Parks app.

Just this week, Metro introduced a modernized version of its mobile app for transit users. You can see it by going to Metro’s Web site at www.wmata.com from your smartphone browser. The older, plain-vanilla version is at www.wmata.com/mobile. See a previous posting with more details about Metro’s upgrade.

Coming Monday …

The 95 Express Lanes project will close the Telegraph Road bridge over Interstate 95 near Quantico for about nine months. During that time, workers will demolish the old bridge and build a new one over I-95 and the future express lanes.

Telegraph Road traffic will be detoured to Russell Road or Route 1 to reach I-95. This probably will add to travel time during both morning and afternoon rush hours. The new bridge should open in late 2015.

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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