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Commuter Page: Avoiding Gridiron Gridlock

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fans have had some preseason practice getting to FedEx Field, but 1 p.m. Sunday marks the first regular season game for the Redskins, and it always takes some getting used to. Plus, there have been some traffic changes inside and outside the stadium grounds. Here are some of the basics for game-day travelers.

Driving

-- This never changes: If you're going to the game, leave home early to reduce the time spent in traffic. If you're trying to avoid traffic, stay away from the Capital Beltway, Landover Road and Central Avenue in Landover before and after the game.

-- Access points: The Arena Drive/Capital Beltway interchange will be open to handle traffic to and from the game. The Landover Road and Central Avenue interchanges are the other main highway access points, but of the two, the Maryland State Highway Administration recommends the Central Avenue connection to minimize delays.

-- Arena Drive project: The highway administration has opened the Arena Drive interchange for use full time, rather than for special events only. This meant building collector-distributor lanes on both Beltway loops to the north and south of Arena Drive. Through-drivers who find themselves to the right of the so lid white line in this area shouldn't swerve left. Just keep going straight, and you can remain on the Beltway.

Parking

-- Arrive early: The stadium will be open to ticket holders two hours before game time, but the parking lots open four hours before kickoff.

-- New: The Redskins added a Gray Lot off Landover Road to provide more parking for season ticket holders on stadium grounds. Almost 3,000 spaces have been added on stadium property. Parking attendants will direct fans who want to tailgate in more than one space to the backs of lots. Fans who want only to park or to tailgate within their single space will be directed to the fronts of lots. Drivers leaving the lots after games will be directed to dedicated traffic lanes to ease congestion.

Metrorail

-- Best bet: To avoid traffic congestion, take the Blue Line to Morgan Boulevard Station, the closest to FedEx. It's a little less than a mile north along a sidewalk to the stadium. Largo Town Center Station, also on the Blue Line, is next-closest. After each game, Metro says, it will have extra trains available for fans traveling home from Morgan Boulevard.

-- Parking: It's free on weekends at all Metrorail lots and garages with two exceptions. If you park at the Morgan Boulevard or Largo stations from three hours before the game to two hours after and you don't use Metrorail, you must pay $25 with a SmarTrip card for the parking. The reusable cards cost $5. Metrorail riders who park at those two stations on game days should use SmarTrip cards for their train rides, so they can avoid paying the special events fee on exit from the parking areas.

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