WASHINGTON — A soccer showdown is likely to cause traffic delays Wednesday as Barcelona takes on Manchester United at FedExField. Commuters are being urged to consider alternate routes.
The two teams face off in Landover, Maryland at 7:30 p.m. as a part of the International Champions Cup, but fan traffic heading to the venue will clash with commuters in the midst of the afternoon rush hour.
When the two teams last met at FedExField six years ago in July 2011, a record 81,807 fans converged on Landover, leading to extreme traffic backups that stretched for miles in all directions. That match was on a Saturday.
In the hours before the 2011 match, a lengthy traffic jam extended from Laurel on Interstate 95 to Landover Road on the Beltway; nearly 20 miles of sluggish traffic was observed for a time as game traffic mixed with summer travelers.
The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration is advising drivers to adjust their normal driving schedule, use mass transit or consider teleworking.
“Motorists that are planning on traveling through the area to go south of Maryland are encouraged to use the west side Beltway at the American Legion Bridge to avoid congestion near the Landover region,” said SHA spokesperson Charlie Gischlar.
Drivers who plan to stay the course in the Landover area this afternoon should plan extra commuting time as a precaution, Gischlar said.
“We will have the … highway response technicians in the region to assist with any disabled vehicles, debris pick up or clearing any potential crashes.”
Fans attending the match are advised to use public transportation, carpool and use ride-sharing services.
Overtime notwithstanding, the match is expected to be over well before the last Metro train departs Largo Station. Metro closes at 11:30 p.m. A spokesperson for Metro says there are no plans to enhance service before or after the game.
WTOP’s Traffic Reporter Joe Conway expects sizable crowds to pour into the eastern Washington suburbs before kickoff, “because there are international stars coming. For Barcelona, Lionel Messi is huge.”
The star-studded lineup also includes Romelu Lukaku and Luis Suarez.
Predicting how packed the roads get before kickoff is tricky business, Conway said.
“[You] have to factor in mixing with rush hour and if this match is a sellout that would add to concerns. This game presents a unique chance to see international stars up close, and if you saved up to buy a ticket, you’d totally go.”
Traffic on the inbound lanes of I-395 will also be slow toward South Capitol Street during the Wednesday rush; the Nationals will take on the Milwaukee Brewers at 7:05 p.m. Traffic will likely be much worse on the south side of the Beltway through Springfield and Alexandria on the Outer Loop with some drivers trying to avoid the backups at the 14th Street Bridge.
View a traffic map to see the latest traffic conditions: