WASHINGTON — The District’s top transportation official is warning commuters to steer clear of the National Mall area on the day of the inauguration.
“People really need to plan ahead for Jan. 20,” said Leif Dormsjo, director of the D.C. Department of Transportation.
“It’s basically going to be the area bound by the Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol, Union Station and George Washington University, so we’re talking about a pretty big area that’s going to be closed to vehicular traffic,” Dorsmjo said.
Some areas will be closed to pedestrians too.
“If people think it’s going to be business as usual on Inauguration Day, in terms of travel, they’re going to run into some real headaches,” Dormsjo said.
The city’s transportation chief recommends that people turn to Metro.
“Metro’s going to be running rush hour service from 4 a.m. until 9 p.m.,” Dormsjo said. “I think that’s a great option for people to get around.”
It may be a smoother-than-usual ride on the much-maligned rail system. The maintenance program that limits service and slows travel on some Metro lines has been suspended for January.
Dormsjo also points out that federal and District workers have the day off Jan. 20, and that will reduce the typically high numbers of government workers who rely on the system.
Metro has also been selling discounted SmarTrip cards to get them in the hands of out-of-town visitors traveling by tour bus, with the goal of easing overcrowding at station entrances.
Although some street closures begin at 3 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19, Dorsmjo said the biggest impact on commuters will be all day Friday, starting in the early morning hours, leading up to the midday swearing-in at the West Front of the Capitol, until the evening, after the Inaugural Parade on Pennsylvania Avenue.
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