dr.g 's tips

Tips for getting around D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cherry Blossom Festival

The festival continues through next weekend, with the annual parade Saturday and the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run on April 11. Metrorail will open at 5 a.m. to accommodate the race.

With streets around the Tidal Basin so crowded, Metrorail is your best bet for getting there, but consider avoiding the Smithsonian Station, even though it's the closest. Other stations, such as L'Enfant Plaza, Federal Triangle and Metro Center, are within walking distance and likely to be less crowded. Try to avoid the hassle of transferring between train lines, even if it means a longer walk.

Tourists will save themselves and the regular riders a lot of extra congestion if they avoid taking Metrorail during the peak hours of 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.

Whether you're a tourist or a local, the red, black and silver Circulator buses are a helpful way of getting around the Mall area. There is parking around Hains Point and a free shuttle to the Tidal Basin, but that area always is crowded.

For the festival, the National Park Service has changed the traffic pattern on Ohio Drive SW, near the Tidal Basin, to all-northbound from its intersection with East Basin Drive and the Inlet Bridge up to the intersection with Independence Avenue and 23rd Street, on the south side of the Lincoln Memorial.

Bike valets

This weekend and next, bicyclists can park free at two valet stations near the Tidal Basin: Independence Avenue between 14th and 15th streets NW and the south side of the Jefferson Memorial.

Baseball is back

The Nationals open the regular season against the Phillies at 1:05 p.m. Monday. That means heavy traffic on the Southeast-Southwest Freeway and around M Street and South Capitol Street. The Green Line's Navy Yard Station, closest to the park, also will be very crowded, as will the transfer stations at L'Enfant Plaza and Gallery Place.

The Nationals Express shuttle bus from RFK Stadium has been discontinued. But the Nationals have opened a couple of economy lots.

For the opener on Monday, where President Obama is scheduled to throw the first pitch, the Nationals are urging fans to arrive extra early, because of both the crowding and extra security at the gates.

Metrorail weekend work

Metro won't be working on the rails this weekend or next because of the blossom festival crowds. Consult the Trip Planner on Metro's Web site as you research how to get around by rail or bus.

I-66 widening

The Virginia Department of Transportation has opened the new lanes on westbound Interstate 66 between Manassas and Gainesville, which should provide some major congestion relief. There are now four lanes westbound. Three are for regular traffic and one is for carpoolers. New overhead signs guide drivers. The entire widening project in that area is scheduled to be done this summer.

Takoma Park paving

This week, the Maryland State Highway Administration will start a resurfacing project along New Hampshire Avenue between the District line and East-West Highway in Takoma Park. All the work should be done by spring 2011.

Drivers will encounter single-lane closings along northbound New Hampshire weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. On the southbound side, the hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

When the work reaches the grinding and resurfacing phase, there will be double lane closings overnight Sunday through Thursday between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

MARC parking

Because of the temporary loss of parking spaces at the Halethorpe Station on the Penn Line, the BWI Airport Station parking garage will allow complimentary parking through Friday for all commuters who present a Halethorpe monthly MARC train ticket.

For more traffic information, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/traffic.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company