Bridges, most Metro stations reopen as DC lifts inaugural security measures

Most Metro stations and bridges leading into Washington reopened Thursday following an extensive security shutdown for the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

The U.S. Secret Service said the National Special Security Event that had been issued for the inauguration ended at noon Thursday. The District is gradually winding down security measures, though some Metro and road closures are likely to persist for the rest of the workweek.

D.C.’s public safety officials said at a briefing Thursday that National Guard troops from other states were starting to go home, but that the threats that led to a huge presence of troops and law enforcement hadn’t gone away.

“The threat of right-wing extremism is here” and will be “a persistent threat” to the District, said Chris Rodriguez, D.C.’s director of homeland security and emergency management.

Though most of the Guard members will make their way home over the days, roughly 7,000 troops are expected to stay in the region through the end of January at the request of some local law enforcement agencies that have asked for continued assistance, The Associated Press reported.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser requested 500 D.C. National Guard troops to be on standby until the end of the month.

The D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency made Bowser’s and D.C. police’s request Thursday night to “bolster security response across the District from Thursday, January 21 through Saturday, January 30, 2021,” according to a document obtained by NBC Washington.

The requested troops would be trained in crowd management and control support, public safety through traffic control, access patrol, presence patrol and transportation security. They will work alongside D.C. police.

“The availability of these National Guard resources to assist the (D.C. police) would greatly enhance our ability to successfully accomplish our mission of securing the safety of the residents and visitors of the District of Columbia,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

Most driving restrictions in the District have been rescinded, said Acting Police Chief Robert Contee, and they should all be gone by Friday morning, along with the barriers that restricted traffic in the center of the District for about a week.

While the barriers are being taken down, Mayor Muriel Bowser said she was looking for businesses to start taking down the boards that many put up in the wake of protests over the summer and earlier this month.

“We’re asking everyone join in” to pull down boards to get “back to some sense of normalcy,” Contee said.

Bowser added that “there may be” an order from the city government to take down boards that are impinging on public spaces.

All that said, it was “a very special day for our republic,” Bowser said.

D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, who attended as the mayor’s guest, said watching Harris take the oath of office as vice president “meant a lot to me.”

As of Wednesday night, three people have been arrested. One person was arrested on 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest for unregistered ammunition; another person was arrested on 12th Street and Independence Avenue Northwest, also for unregistered ammunition; and a third person was arrested on 19th and H streets Northwest for possession of a BB gun.

D.C. police, Capitol Police and U.S. Supreme Court Police responded to three bomb threats Wednesday morning that were cleared, with no threat found.

Law enforcement also investigated reports of suspicious packages and a suspicious vehicle. No hazards were found.

Metro

As of 1 p.m. Thursday, all except for four downtown stations had reopened following an extensive security shutdown.

Only the following Metro stations are still closed and not expected to reopen until Friday morning while inauguration cleanup continues:

  • Farragut North
  • Farragut West
  • McPherson Square
  • Metro Center

Bridges and roads

Drivers coming into D.C. will still have to navigate some road closures, though bridges over the Potomac reopened Thursday morning with some remaining exit restrictions.

  • 14th Street Bridge: Open, but traffic cannot exit at 14th Street Southwest or 12th Street Expressway and must stay on Interstate 395 North
  • Arlington Memorial Bridge: Open
  • Theodore Roosevelt Bridge: Open, but the exit to independence Avenue remains blocked
  • South Capitol Street/Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge: Open
  • 11th Street Bridge: Open
  • John Philip Sousa (Pennsylvania Avenue): Open
  • Key Bridge: Open.

Some road closures continue around downtown D.C. from the areas around the White House, the National Mall, stretching east to the Capitol.

“There are many blocks of busy K Street NW that remain barricaded off between Washington Circle and Mount Vernon Square,” WTOP traffic reporter Dave Dildine said. “The layers of security were a little stronger here since it’s well-known as an influential corridor that houses lobbyists and law firms, so the barricades will take a little more time to dismantle.”

The 3rd Street and 9th Street tunnels are open. Whitehurst Freeway has also reopened.

Rock Creek Parkway is open to southbound traffic heading beyond Virginia Avenue toward Memorial Bridge.

Most access to Independence and Maine avenues is still blocked near the Tidal Basin. Most of Constitution Avenue is open. Massachusetts Avenue in front of Union Station is open. All numbered streets across the National Mall are closed.

The National Mall itself may not fully reopen until Monday.

Below is a map of ongoing closures:

Crews started removing the barriers and fencing on major streets Wednesday night. Garages that were blocked as a precaution also reopened.

The expectation is that by Friday morning, the central business district will be back open.


More Inauguration News


Fireworks cap off Biden inauguration

It was an inauguration like no other.

In a city on high alert, and amid a still-raging pandemic, Biden took the oath of office Wednesday, becoming the 46th U.S. president and declaring it a victory for “the cause of democracy.”

The swearing-in took place from the same U.S. Capitol steps overrun by a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters exactly two weeks ago, seeking to disrupt lawmakers from formally counting the electoral votes that affirmed Biden’s victory in November’s presidential contest.

Leading up to Biden’s swearing-in, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the high court, administered the oath of office to Harris shortly after 11:40 a.m. Harris takes office as the first woman, the first Black woman and the first person of South Asian descent to serve as U.S. vice president.

The official inauguration was followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery before Biden headed to the White House.

In place of a traditional inaugural parade was the virtual “Parade Across America,” featuring performances from across the country.

The parade was followed by a prime-time special “Celebrating America.” Hosted by Tom Hanks, along with Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria, musical guests included Jon Bon Jovi, the Foo Fighters, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake. “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda also recited a classic poem.

The day’s events ended with fireworks as singer Katy Perry performed her hit song “Firework.”

Fireworks light up the sky around the White House, Wednesday night, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, as part of the festivities after President Joe Biden was inaugurated today. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

WTOP’s Rick Massimo, Ian Crawford, Jack Moore and Dick Uliano, and The Associated Press, contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She has a master’s degree in interactive journalism from American University and a master’s degree in English Literature from The George Washington University.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up