Nation’s Triathlon

The eighth annual Nation’s Triathlon will create challenges for travelers as well as athletes Sunday morning and early afternoon. The start time is 7 a.m. Both the start and finish areas are in West Potomac Park.

The event draws tens of thousands of participants and many spectators to running, biking and swimming segments along the Potomac River. Many streets along the shore close temporarily.

The main change this year is in the bike route. It will take the cyclists from the District to Virginia in the HOV lanes of the 14th Street Bridge and make a U-turn south of the Pentagon.

There is some parking in West Potomac Park, but it’s limited, as it is elsewhere near the course. Street closings in the race area start as early as 5:30 a.m. The best drop-off point for people arriving by car is Constitution Avenue NW. There’s a shuttle for the athletes from the Washington Hilton.

Metrorail opens at the usual time, 7 a.m., so that’s no good for the athletes, but spectators could use these stations for parts of the event: Smithsonian, L’Enfant Plaza, Foggy Bottom, Arlington Cemetery and Pentagon.

Football at FedEx

The first home game of the football season should make the Monday evening commute extra interesting. Each year, it takes fans a while to get reacquainted with travel to and from FedEx Field in Landover. This time, they will be mingling with rush hour commuters to reach the stadium in time for the 6:55 p.m. kickoff.

The FedEx parking lots will open at 3 p.m., and the stadium gates at 5 p.m.

Before and after stadium events, traffic surges on Landover Road, Central Avenue, Baltimore-Washington Parkway, Southeast-Southwest Freeway, Interstate-295/D.C. 295 and the eastern section of the Capital Beltway.

Traffic in the Landover area is usually 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. Central Avenue, the southernmost of the three exits, is the one that the Maryland State Highway Administration recommends to minimize delays.

Taking Metro’s Blue Line to the Morgan Boulevard station is a good bet. From there, a sidewalk leads to the stadium, which is nine-tenths of a mile away.

Metro’s football plan

Although Metrorail isn’t scheduled to stay open past it’s normal midnight closing Monday, the transit authority and the Redskins have made arrangements for extra service on two nights late this season when games could go past the regular closing time.

Those will be for the games Nov. 25, an 8:40 Monday night kickoff, and Dec. 1, an 8:30 start on a Sunday night.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said the weekend track work program, which has been most intensive on the Red Line, will begin to focus on the Blue and Orange lines. Since most of the home games will be on Sundays, football fans who take the Blue Line should pay special attention to track work schedules as they become available each Monday.

Metrobus hearings

Metro plans to hold six public hearings Sept. 16 to 19 to ask riders what they think of proposals to change the service on dozens of bus routes throughout the region. This is one of the transit authority’s periodic service reviews.

It’s not tied to the annual budget process. In fact, the idea is to adjust service within the current budget.

Should some buses be rescheduled because of heavy traffic on the routes? Should some trips be canceled on low-demand routes and shifted to routes where ridership is higher?

I’ll have more detail about the proposals, along with a list of the hearing times and locations, on next Sunday’s Commuter page.

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