The Washington Nationals’ home opener Thursday afternoon starts another annual tradition: D.C.-area commuters checking the schedule for potential traffic jams on the ride home.
“Heavy traffic and delays are to be expected around the ballpark and on busy routes such as Interstates 295, 695, 395 and the Southeast/Southwest Freeway,” the District Department of Transportation warned.
The baseball game also is expected to delay commuter buses.
The traffic can be even worse early in the season when Cherry Blossom visitors flood the area around some alternative routes home.
“Construction on the Capitol Crossing Project in the Third Street Tunnel may cause some (additional]) delays,” DDOT said.
DDOT urges Nationals fans to carpool, take Metro, use buses or bike.
With the major construction on the Frederick Douglass Bridge project and a number of new high rises in the area, some lanes and sidewalks are closed too.
On game days, there are additional parking restrictions around the stadium and many street spaces have two-hour limits that apply even on Sundays and holidays. Spaces on the street that are available for more than two hours have higher rates, $2.30 for the first hour and $8 for each additional hour.
The city is implementing new, additional parking restrictions this year on N Place SE near the right field gate.
After games, taxis will be lined up near Shake Shack just across M Street SE from the Metro.
To prevent significant backups and dangerous situations when drivers stop in the middle of traffic, the D.C. is asking Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing drivers not to pick up or drop off riders on South Capitol Street between the Southeast/Southwest Freeway and the Frederick Douglass Bridge or on M Street anywhere near the stadium.
The Nationals open the season Thursday afternoon against the New York Mets. The Mets finished fourth in the National League East last year.
The Nationals are off Friday, before completing a three-game season-opening series against the Mets Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The Nats then host the Phillies Tuesday and Wednesday, before embarking on their first road trip of the season — six games against the same two teams.
Thursday’s first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m., so there will be no issues for fans using Metro.
The rail system closes at 11:30 p.m. weeknights, 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 p.m. Sundays.
The last trains north to Greenbelt (and for transfers to other lines) leave Navy Yard-Ballpark at 11:22 p.m. weeknights, 12:52 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10:52 p.m. Sunday.
The last trains south to Branch Avenue leave at 11:48 p.m. weeknights, 1:18 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11:18 p.m. Sunday.
Other options include the following:
- Metrobus Route 74 between Nationals Park and the Convention Center;
- Metrobus Route P6 between Anacostia and Rhode Island Avenue;
- Metrobus Route V4 between Navy Yard and Capitol Heights;
- Free D.C. Circulator between L’Enfant Plaza and Eastern Market that runs down M Street SE near the stadium;
- Capital Bikeshare.
The Circulator runs until midnight for most Nationals night games and until 9 p.m. on Sundays.
On opening day, Capital Bikeshare staff will ensure there are docks available and keep extra bikes on hand at 1st Street and N Street SE between noon and the end of the game.
Nationals Park also offers free bike storage during the game for personal bikes fans ride to the stadium.
In Baltimore, the Orioles’ home opener is next Thursday afternoon, April 4 against the New York Yankees.