Washington Redskins fans attending this season's final home game on Saturday night will be able to walk to FedEx Field on Redskins Road for the first time in three years.
A Prince George's County judge yesterday denied the county's request to keep the public road off-limits to pedestrians until after the season.
Last week, Circuit Court Judge Sheila R. Tillerson-Adams ruled in favor of football fans who sued to overturn a county policy prohibiting people from walking up Redskins Road to the Landover stadium on game days.
She said the policy was created illegally by the FedEx Field "coordinating group" -- made up of county, Redskins, stadium and citizens representatives -- because it was done without the public's knowledge.
A county lawyer asked the judge to stay her decision until after Saturday's game, against the Philadelphia Eagles, because there was not enough time to adopt pedestrian safety procedures. But Tillerson-Adams denied the request yesterday in a conference call, according to attorneys involved in the lawsuit.
"This is what we expected," said John Szymkowicz, an attorney for one of the fans who sued. "If the judge says the activity was illegal, how can you legitimize that activity by letting it go on?"
Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said that, as a result, the team "can't restrict access to the stadium in any way" for Saturday's game. "We're counting on the Prince George's County police . . . to do everything they can to protect people who are attending the game," he said.
A police spokesman said the department might assign additional officers to direct traffic at the stadium.
Usually, about 180 police officers work at FedEx Field and the surrounding area on game days, Capt. Kevin Putnam said. "If we have a high volume of [pedestrians], that does present an issue, especially as it's late at night and will be dark," Putnam said. "We'll do our best."
Saturday's game is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m.
Although officials say Redskins Road will be open to pedestrians this weekend, its status next season is unclear.
The judge's ruling last week said the coordinating group -- created in 1996 by the Prince George's County Council to monitor traffic, public safety and parking at FedEx Field -- did not have the authority to close public roads. But the decision left open the possibility that the group could go through other channels, such as the County Council, to get permission to restrict access in the future.
Parking and pedestrian access procedures this season have angered some Redskins fans. Season-ticket holders with permits can park in spaces adjacent to the stadium, but others have complained that restricting pedestrian access along Redskins Road forced them to park at distant lots that charge $25 and then take shuttle buses to the game.
Some fans who tried to park at nearby Landover Mall this season and walk to the game were rebuffed by metal barricades, FedEx Field security and county police.
To make it to the game, some tried to hail passing cars, and others walked about two miles to another entrance on Arena Drive.