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Where to Go, How to Get There and What to Expect

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 19, 2009; Page B06

The next-to-last-minute guide to the inauguration:

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Q Somehow, I've managed to avoid every article, blog, podcast, newscast and Twitter. But now I really want to go to the events tomorrow. Can I get there?

A It can be done, but it's going to be rough. You probably will have to choose between joining the throngs at the Capitol and the Mall for the swearing-in ceremony or lining up to get a spot at the parade along Pennsylvania Avenue. The fanfare at the Capitol starts at 10 a.m., and the swearing-in takes place at noon. The parade rolls out about 2:30 p.m., running until 5 or so.

But your day might have to begin well before dawn.

Here's why:

Don't even think about driving. Bridge lanes going from Virginia into the District are closed to personal vehicles from 3 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. From Maryland, most roads are open, but they will be choked with charter buses and security checkpoints. And once you get into Washington, most downtown streets will be closed to unauthorized vehicles, too. See The Washington Post's Get There blog for the latest details: http://www.washingtonpost.com/getthere.

Metro is the best way to go, and the trains begin running at 4 a.m. Buy your farecard today. Metro officials predict that the 60,000 parking spaces in their lots will be gone by about 5:30 or 6 a.m.

Virginia transit authorities are offering free bus rides and shuttles: See http://www.vsp.state.va.us/Inauguration_2009_GetAround.shtm.

Bicyclists can pedal all the way and park for free at two valet centers set up by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. One is in the parking lot for the Jefferson Memorial, the other at 16th Street NW between I and K streets. The service runs from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., but space is limited. Check the group's Web site, http://www.waba.org, for details. Bicycles will not be permitted on Metrorail on Inauguration Day but can be placed on the front of buses.

One gamble is taking a taxi or a limousine, which are exempt from the bridge restrictions but might get mired in the congestion.

Okay, we get past the traffic and make it into town. Now what do we do?

Once you arrive at the Mall, head to the ceremony security gates, which open at 8 a.m. for those with tickets or 9 a.m. for everyone else.

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