Rain or shine, the Redskins are scheduled to launch their 2011 regular season at FedEx Field at 4:15 p.m. Sunday. Here’s some guidance on getting there by road or rail.
There are no major changes in the road configurations in Landover this year. In fact, the major impact on local traffic may stem from the fact that the Redskins removed thousands of seats from the upper deck of the huge stadium during the off season.
Virginia fans who approach via the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River will find that the lengthy rehabilitation project on the northbound span is done.
However, drivers who use the Capital Beltway in Maryland may encounter slower traffic as they pass through several work zones for bridge repair projects in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Of particular note is the Northwest Branch bridge work zone between University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue in Silver Spring, where the state uses cameras to enforce the 55 mph speed limit.
On game days, traffic volumes surge on Landover Road, Central Avenue, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and the eastern side of the Capital Beltway. Leave home early, because the traffic will be at its worst in the two hours before kickoff.
Three Beltway interchanges at Landover Road, Arena Drive and Central Avenue offer access to FedEx Field. As game time approaches, the Landover Road and Arena Drive exits tend to be the most crowded, especially Landover Road. Central Avenue, the southernmost of the three exits, is the one that the Maryland State Highway Administration recommends to minimize delays.
Consider Beltway alternatives. For example, a Northern Virginia driver could come across the 14th Street Bridge on Interstate 395, cross the Anacostia River via Pennsylvania Avenue, pick up Minnesota Avenue SE, turn right on B Street SE, right again on East Capitol Street, which becomes Central Avenue, then take Morgan Boulevard north to the stadium.
The parking lots usually open four hours before game time, and the stadium gates open two hours before kickoff. Drivers leaving the lots after games will be directed to dedicated lanes to ease congestion. Watch the stadium personnel and the overhead lane lights.
The lots closest to the stadium are open to permit holders only. The permits cover one parking space, and can’t be used for additional tailgating room.
The Redskins operate several cash lots off Jericho City Drive, to the southeast of the stadium.
The Blue Line’s Morgan Boulevard station is the closest to FedEx. The stadium is a little less than a mile north along a slightly uphill sidewalk. Largo Town Center station, also on the Blue Line, is next closest. Make sure you have your SmarTrip card or paper Farecard loaded for a round trip, so you won’t have to wait in a line at fare vending machines after games.
Parking is free on weekends at Metrorail lots and garages, other than Morgan Boulevard or Largo Town Center stations. Drivers who park at those stations to go to FedEx must pay $25 with a SmarTrip card. The reusable cards cost $5. Metrorail riders who park at those two stations on game days should use SmarTrip cards to pay for their train rides, so they can avoid paying the special event fee.
Metro doesn’t allow tailgating in its parking areas.