Getting to FedEx Field in time for kickoff

Columnist

The Redskins removed thousands of seats from the upper deck at FedEx Field during the offseason. So football fans heading for today’s regular season opener against the New York Giants may find traffic a bit less congested as the 4:15 p.m. kickoff approaches. Here’s some travel advice for today’s game and the rest of the season:

Schedule

A football highlight this fall — no matter how the Redskins do — will be the first Army-Navy game to be played at FedEx. That’s scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Dec. 10, and should create especially sluggish traffic because it will draw many fans unfamiliar with the stadium approaches.

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. View Archive

With the exception of this weekend’s opener and the regular season’s final game at FedEx, at 1 p.m. Dec. 24, a Saturday, all of the Redskins home games are scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sundays. There are no Sunday night or weeknight games on the home schedule this year.

Driving

●There are no major changes in the road configurations in Landover this year. Virginia fans who approach via the 14th Street bridge over the Potomac River will find that the lengthy rehabilitation project on the northbound span is done. But drivers who use the Capital Beltway in Maryland may encounter slower traffic as they pass through several work zones for bridge repairs in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Of particular note is the Northwest Branch bridge work zone between University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue in Silver Spring, where the state uses cameras to enforce the 55 mph speed limit.

●On game days, traffic volumes on Landover Road, Central Avenue, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and the eastern side of the Capital Beltway surge. Leave home early, because the traffic will be at its worst in the two hours before kickoff.

●Three Beltway interchanges at Landover Road, Arena Drive and Central Avenue offer access to FedEx Field. As game time approaches, 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.

●Consider Beltway alternatives. For example, a Northern Virginia driver could come across the 14th Street bridge on Interstate 395, cross the Anacostia River via Pennsylvania Avenue, pick up Minnesota Avenue SE, turn right on B Street SE, right again on East Capitol Street, which becomes Central Avenue, and then take Morgan Boulevard north to the stadium.

Parking

●The parking lots usually open four hours before 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. The permits cover one parking space and can’t be used for additional tailgating room.

●The Redskins operate several cash lots off Jericho City Drive, to the southeast of the stadium.

Metrorail

●The Blue Line’s Morgan Boulevard station is the closest to FedEx. The stadium is a little less than a mile north. There is a sidewalk, and the walk is slightly uphill. Largo Town Center station, also on the Blue Line, is the next closest. Make sure you have your SmarTrip card or paper Farecard loaded for a round trip so you won’t have to wait in a line at fare vending machines after games.

●Parking is free on weekends at Metrorail lots and garages, other than the Morgan Boulevard or Largo Town Center stations. Drivers who park at those stations to go to FedEx must pay $25 with a SmarTrip card. The reusable cards cost $5. Metrorail riders who park at those two stations on game days should use SmarTrip cards to pay for their train rides to avoid paying the special-event fee.

●Metro doesn’t allow tailgating in its parking areas.

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