Nationals’ home opener to cause traffic, transit delays

While the Redskins played their home opener at FedEx Field, the Nationals drew 33,111 to Nats Park. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)

WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals’ home opener will bring droves of baseball fans out of hibernation and onto the roads and rails in D.C. Friday.

Drivers should brace for significant delays before and after the first pitch, scheduled for 1:05 p.m. The Nationals face off against the Atlanta Braves.

On routes leading to the ballpark, the increase in highway volume will coincide with the beginning of the Friday-afternoon rush hour. On Metro, a surge of travelers will head for the Green Line and the Navy Yard Station.

Metrorail is the most reliable way to get to the ballpark, but trains will be crowded, since the ballgame occurs during an already busy travel time. Navy Yard Station is about a block from Nationals Park. Metro says it will monitor ridership Friday afternoon and will likely run additional trains on the Green Line to enhance service between Mount Vernon Square and Navy Yard.

Passengers aboard Metro trains should avoid transferring between rail lines at downtown stations, since platforms will likely be very crowded. Additional tips can be found on the WMATA website.

Parking is extremely limited around Nationals Park, and driving to the stadium, especially for the first home game of the season, is not recommended. Delays can extend from the parking areas along South Capitol Street for several miles across the Southeast/Southwest Freeway and into Virginia.

Most of the spaces in the cash parking lots are booked for the home opener. The cost per game to park can be more than $20, but space is usually limited. Get information about season parking passes on the Nationals website.

A lengthy rush hour is expected through Southeast and Southwest Washington, especially as fans leave the ballpark following the game.

Metro buses that serve Nationals Park are the 74, A42, A46, A48, P6, V7, V8 and V routes. Metro says some bus routes may be delayed because of traffic congestion before and after the game. Metro’s TripPlanner tool can be found on the WMATA website.

D.C. Circulator will run extra buses during game time between Union Station and Navy Yard.

Other options for getting to the game

For an innovative solution to beating the crowds, consider taking a water taxi. If you’re headed to the game from Maryland or Virginia, you can take Potomac River Company’s Baseball Boat from National Harbor and Alexandria. More information can be found on the Potomac River Company’s website.

When all else fails, the “end run” may be the best option. Spring-like temperatures and only a slight chance of sprinkles will make for decent walking weather. You might be able to flag down a rickshaw to give yourself a break. Capital Bikeshare is a hot commodity this time of the year. You can check the real-time status of the city’s bike corrals on the Capital Bikeshare website.

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