WWII Memorial Dedication
Organizers Issue Warning to Avoid Driving Downtown
By Monte Reel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 23, 2004; Page C04
The agencies organizing next weekend's National World War II Memorial dedication and related events on the Mall offer this advice for the hundreds of thousands expected to attend: Please don't drive.
Roads around the Mall will be closed, and parking will be prohibited on many nearby streets and on streets near several city Metrorail stations.
To help accommodate the large crowds, there will be expanded Metrorail service and Metrobuses at several downtown rail stations to shuttle attendees to their seats near the memorial for the dedication. The Smithsonian Institution, which is organizing an exposition on the Mall with the American Battle Monuments Commission, has contracted with Tourmobile to offer a free shuttle loop around the Mall throughout the weekend.
"It's going to be similar to July Fourth, where you have a huge number of people that trickle in at different times, then afterwards everyone is probably going to want to leave at the same time," said Lisa Farbstein, a spokeswoman for Metro.
Saturday, the day of the dedication ceremony, is expected to be the most challenging. Organizers urge attendees to park at suburban Metro stations and travel to one of four downtown stops: L'Enfant Plaza, Farragut West, Metro Center or Smithsonian (Independence Avenue exit). Buses at those stations will shuttle passengers to the Mall and back from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For people with tickets to the dedication ceremony, shuttles will provide rides to the ticketed-seating sections until 1 p.m. Metro has fitted 25 buses to accommodate riders in wheelchairs, Farbstein said.
The dedication ceremony starts at 2 p.m. with pre-show entertainment beginning at noon. The commission recommends that people with tickets be in their seats by 1:30 p.m.
Those without tickets can watch the ceremony on large-screen monitors set up between 10th and 14th streets. Those viewers should depart the Metro system at the Smithsonian and L'Enfant Plaza stations, which are near the monitors.
Because many World War II veterans are expected to attend, transportation for disabled people is key. The commission has attempted to contact ticket holders who use wheelchairs to provide parking permits for remote parking lots that offer specially equipped shuttle service to the event. Those who have not been contacted about permits should call 800-340-9737.
The free Tourmobile shuttle will operate from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Sunday and 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday. It will run in a continuous loop around the Mall, stopping at six sites: the Smithsonian Metro station, the National Air and Space Museum, the West Building of the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of American History, the Washington Monument and the World War II Memorial.
For a list of road and parking closures and more information about transportation, see www.wwiimemorial.com. Use the "Dedication" link to get to the "Know Before You Go" link.
Disabled drivers from any jurisdiction who drive in the District between Tuesday and June 2 will be allowed to park free at any meter or residential permit parking zone and for twice the posted time limit. The privileges were granted after the city was sued by advocacy groups. Initially, the city planned to offer the disabled parking privileges only to drivers with D.C. disabled placards; after the suit, the city granted the temporary privileges to vehicles with disability placards from all jurisdictions.
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