Officials to close Third Street tunnel for inauguration

Dick Uliano,

WASHINGTON – Military and security planners for President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony are apparently determined that there will be no repeat of what happened at the president’s first inaugural when thousands of people were trapped in the Third Street tunnel.

This time they’re closing the tunnel.

“The Third Street tunnel will be closed to all vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic for this event,” says Brig. Gen. Errol Schwartz, commander, D.C. National Guard.

The president will be sworn in for his second term at a private White House ceremony on Jan. 20, 2013. He’ll repeat the oath in a public ceremony at the Capitol the next day.

Due to a security blunder in 2009, thousands of people with tickets to see the president take the oath of office on the west front of the Capitol were herded into the Third Street tunnel where they were trapped from seeing the historic event.

At the upcoming inaugural, “the only traffic that will be going through the Third Street tunnel will be for emergency purposes only,” says Schwartz.

Military planners anticipate a smaller crowd than the 1.5 million or more who bundled against the bitter cold for the president’s first inauguration Jan. 20, 2009.

Metro planners expect up to 800,000 people at the ceremony Jan. 21, 2013.

“I think there will be much easier access,” for the upcoming inaugural ceremony, says Maj. Gen. Michael Linnington, commander of the Joint Task Force, National Capital Region.

“The lessons learned from 2009 have all been incorporated in the security plan this year,” Linnington says.

In planning for the president’s second inaugural, Linnington anticipates “extended hours for public transportation, opening additional bridges and making it more accessible for people to come in,” he says.

Planning is also under way for the inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. It’s expected to include about 10,000 marchers, 200 horses, honor guards, bands and floats.

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