Dr. Gridlock: Travel tips for Stewart/Colbert rally

By Robert Thomson
Friday, October 29, 2010; 8:20 AM

The Comedy Central hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will take over the eastern side of the National Mall, the side nearest the U.S. Capitol, from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday. Here's how to get to their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

Best bets

This location between Third and Seventh streets NW means that participants have many options for Metrorail access, and that's definitely the best way to get there, since downtown parking is limited. See National Park Service map of the National Mall.

On weekends, parking is free at Metro lots and garages. You can drive to one of the outer stations, park and take the train into downtown D.C. But keep in mind that this is a common tactic for people from outside the immediate area. There's no system for checking in advance to see if a Metro lot or garage is full. The alternative: Drive to a parking area one or two stations from the end of the line. They tend to be less crowded. See map of Metrorail system.

Closest Metro stations

The most crowded station for National Mall events is Smithsonian. It's the one everyone knows is on the Mall. You're likely to find less crowding by getting off and on at L'Enfant Plaza or Federal Center SW on the Blue and Orange lines, Archives-Navy Memorial on the Green and Yellow lines, or Judiciary Square and Union Station on the Red Line. Don't bother transferring from line to line, unless you enjoy crowding. Just pick the closest station on your line and walk from there. The weather should be great for a walk, according to the Capital Weather Gang forecast.

Weekend work

Metro almost always schedules track work for the weekends. This coming weekend, the transit authority plans work on the Red, Orange and Green lines, which will cause delays.

Red Line riders taking the train from Glenmont should add at least 20 minutes of travel time to get around work on the elevated tracks at Rhode Island Avenue. Passengers coming in from the western end of the line, the Shady Grove side, should add at least half an hour for the trains to get around work on the Rockville platform.

Orange Line riders should add at least half an hour to a trip between Stadium-Armory and Cheverly stations. This is where Metro will be doing some preparatory work for a big effort to stabilize the tracks on the following weekend.

Green Line riders should add at least 20 minutes between Fort Totten and Prince George's Plaza, where maintenance workers will be out on the tracks.

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