Capacity Crowd Will Close Checkpoints
Inaugural Parade Route Can Hold About 300,000, Security Official Says
By Lena H. Sun
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Security officials will count the number of spectators arriving for the inaugural parade, and when the crowd reaches capacity, they will turn people away. Officials warned that could happen well before the parade begins between 2:30 and 3 p.m.
"Once the sidewalks on the north and south side of Pennsylvania Avenue reach capacity, at that point we will close our checkpoints so no more folks can get onto the parade route," said Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the Secret Service.
He declined to say how many people would have to arrive to reach capacity. But according to a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment, capacity is expected to be between 280,000 and 300,000. That number will include only those people standing on the sidewalks; it does not include the 5,000 people who have tickets to sit on bleachers along the parade route. Officials estimate that at least 1.5 million and possibly more than 3 million people will attend the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 20.
After the swearing-in ceremony, the sidewalks from Capitol Hill to the White House are expected to be packed along the entire parade route, which goes west on Pennsylvania Avenue from Capitol Hill, north on 15th Street, and west again on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.
"There's just a finite amount of people we can put on the parade route," the security official said. "For safety and fire reasons, we'll have to cut it off."
Officials said police at parade checkpoints will count each of the spectators, who might arrive as early as 7 a.m. to snag a good spot. The Metrorail system will open at 4 a.m.
Separately, two key downtown Metro stations will close early on Inauguration Day for security reasons. Those stations are close to the buildings hosting official balls that Obama is expected to attend. The early closures, on top of two previously announced Metrorail station closings, will make it more difficult for people taking public transit that day, especially if they are planning to ride the subway to attend or work at the balls at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
The Mount Vernon Square/Seventh Street-Convention Center Metrorail station on the Yellow and Green lines will close at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 20. The Judiciary Square Station will close at 4 p.m. The stations are scheduled to reopen at 5 a.m. the next day.
The Mount Vernon Square station, at Seventh and M streets NW, is right by the Convention Center, which is hosting six of the 10 official balls that Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. are scheduled to attend.
The Judiciary Square Station, at 450 F St. NW, is across the street from the National Building Museum, which is hosting the Commander-in-Chief's Inaugural Ball for active duty and reserve military.
Two other Metrorail stations will be closed all day Jan. 20 for security reasons: Archives-Navy Memorial, at Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, along the parade route, and Smithsonian, which is on the Mall.
Metro is encouraging people to use nearby Metrorail stations, including Metro Center, Gallery Place-Chinatown or Union Station. Those centrally located stations are likely to be so crowded that passengers might have to wait before setting foot in the stations and then wait again on jammed platforms for a train.
The closing of the Mount Vernon Square station will make it difficult for hundreds of people who have to work at the inaugural balls.
"If they're taking Metrorail, they will have to walk longer distances just to get to work," Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said.
Four years ago, the Mount Vernon Square station closed at 3 p.m. and reopened at 1 a.m. But four years ago, there were fewer balls at the Convention Center, fewer people at Mount Vernon and fewer people using the rail system compared with what is expected this year. Judiciary Square closed at 5:30 a.m. and reopened at 1 a.m.
Staff writers Nikita Stewart and Mary Beth Sheridan contributed to this report.
The following groups will be marching during the Inaugural Parade:
Mobile Azalea Trail Maids, AL
Siloam Springs High School Band, AR
Mountain Ridge High School Pride of the West Marching Band, AZ
Redwood Middle School marching Band and Auxilary Units, CA
The Freedom Riders, CO
Windsor High School Marching Band, CO
Trumbull High School Golden Eagle Marching Band, CT
Howard University Marching Band, DC
Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School Marching Band, DC
Delaware Volunteer Firemenýs Association, DE
Delaware State University Marching Band, DE
Alexis duPont High School Band, DE
University of Delaware Fightin Blue Hen Marching Band, DE
Refurbished 1965 DC Metropolitan Police Department cruiser, DE
Florida A&M University Marching 100 Band, FL
JP Taravella High School Band, FL
South Cobb High School Blue Eagle Marching Band, GA
Punahou School Marching Band, HI
Punahou School JROTC, HI
Isiserettes Drill Corps, IA
The Jesse White Tumbling Team, IL
The World Famous Lawn Rangers from Amazing Arcola, IL
Morton High School Marching Band, IL
Whitney M. Young Magnet High School Navy JROTC, IL
Carl Sandburg High School Marching Eagles, IL
Angel Drill Team, IL
The Tempel Lipizzans of Tempel Farms, IL
The Culver Academies, IN
Commanding Generalýs Mounted Color Guard, First Infantry Division, Fort Riley KS, KS
Prevention Partnership, Warren County, KY Sheriffýs Office, KY
Grambling State University World Famed Tiger Marching Band, LA
54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment Company A Band, MA
54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment, MA
Comfort Carriages, MD
Sanford High School Marching Band, ME
Michiganýs Mounted Police Drill Team and Color Guard, MI
Wyandotte Marching Chiefs, MI
Fergus Falls High School Marching Band, MN
Theodore Roosevelt High School Marine Corps JROTC Color Guard and Drill Team, MO
Blue Springs High School Golden Regiment Marching Band, MO
Petal High School Marching Band, MS
Crow Nation of Montana, MT
Harding University High School Marching Band of Gold, NC
Adams Central High School Patriot Band, NE
Londonderry High School Marching Lancer Band and Color Guard, NH
Bonnie Brae Knights, NJ
Espanola Valley High School Mariachi Band, NM
Green Valley High School Marching Band, NV
Brooklyn Music and Arts Program, NY
Lesbian and Gay Band Association, NY
Southern Ohio Ladies Aside, OH
Cleveland Firefighters Memorial Pipes and Drums, OH
The Ohio State University Marching Band, OH
Tulsa County Sheriffýs Office, OK
The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, PA
Boy Scouts of America, Troop 358, PA
North Allegheny High School Tiger Marching Band, PA
East Greenwich High School, RI
Manning High School Golden Pride Marching Band, SC
McCrossan Boys Ranch, SD
University of Tennessee, TN
Carnaval de San Anto, The URBAN 15 Group, TX
Klein Collins High School Air Force JROTC, TX
Virgina Military Corps of Cadets (Band), VA
Hampton University Marching Force, VA
T.C. Williams High School Army Band, VA
Brattleboro Union High School Band, VT
Evergreen High School Marching Band, WA
Oneida Nation Veterans, WI
Nicholas County Army JROTC, WV
Navigating Washington During the Inauguration
Monday, Dec. 15, 2008; A12
Washington area officials estimate that 2 million to 4 million people will try to attend the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 20. Information about getting to Washington and getting around:
AIRLINES: Tickets were still available as of late last week.
US Airways is adding 27 flights into the area's three main airports Jan. 17 and 18 and 16 departing flights Jan. 20 and 21.
Southwest has added 26 flights to Washington Dulles International and Baltimore-Washington International Marshall airports.
United is adding nine flights and flying larger planes for 35 flights.
AIRPORT PARKING: Allow extra time. Reagan National Airport travelers can check live parking conditions at http://www.metwashairports.com.
BWI spokesman Jonathan Dean said he doesn't expect many inaugural visitors to use regular airport parking lots, because the BWI rail station has 3,200 spots.
ROADS: Roads will be closed Jan. 20 within a still-to-be-determined security cordon near the Mall and the Capitol. Bridges across the Potomac River and certain major roads into downtown Washington will be restricted to buses and authorized vehicles.
PARKING: Meter fees and parking regulations in Washington will be suspended for the day. Garages outside the security boundary can open at their owners' discretion; those inside will be closed.
TAXIS: It is unclear how many or where cabs will be available until security officials disclose how much of downtown will be blocked off.
AMTRAK: Amtrak is adding service between Boston and Washington based on reservations. Some cars with sleeping berths were nearly sold out.
METRO: Metrorail will operate rush-hour service for 15 hours Jan. 20 (4 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and will stay open for an extra two hours (until 2 a.m.). It will also offer free parking at its lots. Capacity is 120,000 people an hour, in the best-case scenario. Officials urge riders to spread out their trips, especially after the main events, by going to restaurants, movies or museums. Riders are also encouraged to pay fares in advance, such as by using the commemorative Farecard. For information, visit http://www.wmata.com.
Metro officials say that people who live or are staying within two miles of the Mall should walk. That includes an area bordered roughly by the Metro stations of Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan, Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery, Navy Yard, Stadium-Armory and Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood.
COMMUTER RAIL AND BUS: MARC and Virginia Railway Express commuter rail and Maryland commuter buses plan to run special service Jan. 20. Together, they will be able to carry about 50,000 people that day. The trains will arrive at Union Station; the commuter buses will travel from park-and-ride spots to Metro stations on the region's fringe.
MARC and VRE tickets for the day must be bought in advance. Bus fares can be bought Inauguration Day.
VRE tickets go on sale Tuesday; forms can be found at http://www.vre.org.
MARC tickets will be sold between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday at the Camden and Monocacy MARC stations; only cash will be accepted. Riders can also visit http://www.commuterdirect.com or call 703-228-7433.
CHARTER BUSES: About 10,000 charter buses are expected in the Washington area. Washington has found parking for 5,000 and is working out how to get people to and from events. For information about charter bus permits, visit http://www.dc.gov. Charter bus companies can register for parking at http://2009inauguration.clickandpark.com.
About 4,700 buses will probably park at Metrorail-accessible locations, including RFK Stadium and Metrorail parking lots.
BICYCLES: Bicycles will not be allowed within the security cordon. Bicycle valet parking might be set up in areas just outside the cordon. Metro officials have not decided whether to allow bikes on trains.
-- Lena H. Sun and Eric M. Weiss