As you prepare to attend the swearing-in at the Capitol, the Pennsylvania Avenue parade or inaugural balls, figure out a sensible walking route for the final stage of your trip. Then figure out another sensible route, in case the first one fails.
“Some of us were happy to walk, but hadn’t planned on walking quite so far as we ultimately did. Trying to get to my bleachers seat on the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue at 12th, I was first directed from Gallery Place to a pedestrian crossover on Sixth that turned out to be non-existent, so I got directed to Third . . . then First, then New Jersey, and then all the way around the Capitol, at which point, I turned right back around . . . and ended up walking back to 14th or 15th.”
Some access points have changed this year, and the crowd is likely to be smaller. But 2009’s message — know before you go, then adapt to what you didn’t know — will serve people well Monday.
If there’s one big thing walkers need to know about close-in navigation on Inauguration Day, it’s that the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route will create a barrier to those heading north or south. Between the Capitol and the White House, there will be no pedestrian crossing zones along Pennsylvania Avenue.
In 2009, the Third Street Tunnel was a vital north-south route for crowds, though it proved to be a bottleneck for those with tickets for the close-in viewing areas. This year, the Third Street Tunnel will be closed to pedestrians and cars. The main north-south walking routes will be Second and Third streets NE, east of the Capitol, and 18th and 19th streets NW, west of the White House.
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 NW/SW, which will be open to pedestrians. Continuing 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 Avenue, which links with North Carolina Avenue, for those trying to reach Second and Third streets NE.
Many will arrive by Metrorail, but at which stations? A Red Line rider will look at Metro Center station on a map and see it looks a lot closer to the Mall viewing areas than Farragut North. But the transit authority guide estimates the walk from Metro Center to the Mall at 1.7 miles, while from Farragut North, it’s about one mile.
Why? Because on this day, pedestrians won’t be able to walk straight south from Metro Center and reach the Mall.
A rider on the Blue or Orange lines coming in early and wanting to get as close to the Capitol as possible would want to disembark at a station on the south side of the Mall, resulting in a shorter walk.
The stations closest to the Capitol are likely to be the most crowded in the morning. Archives, Mount Vernon Square and Smithsonian stations are scheduled to be closed, but intensive crowding could temporarily shut other stations as well.