Inauguration Shutdown Of Downtown Extensive
Federal officials announced plans yesterday to close roughly 100 square blocks of downtown Washington to vehicles on Inauguration Day and to restrict traffic on another 100 square blocks. Motorists should prepare for detours and delays even before President Bush is sworn in for a second term Jan. 20. Some streets will be closed Sunday for a dress rehearsal of the inaugural parade. Others will be closed from time to time starting Tuesday as Bush and other dignitaries head to concerts, receptions and other events. Pennsylvania Avenue NW — the parade route — will be closed after 6 p.m. Jan. 19 for security, as workers remove streetlights and weld shut manhole covers, D.C. police said.
Bush is to take the oath of office in a noontime ceremony at the Capitol on Jan. 20. Throughout the day and into the night, much of downtown will be off-limits to motorists. The restrictions cover Second Street east of the Capitol to 23rd Street to the west, extending roughly between E Street south of the Capitol and K Street to the north, plus an area around the Washington Convention Center.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge acknowledged yesterday that security plans go well beyond those undertaken in 2001 for Bush’s first inauguration. This is the widest planned shutdown of the core business district in memory, and Ridge said authorities intend to be “as prepared as possible.” “You can well imagine that the security for this occasion will be unprecedented,” said Ridge, who gave an overview of plans in a briefing near the Capitol. “Our goal is that any attempt on the part of anyone or any group to disrupt the inaugural will be repelled by multiple layers of security.” For the first inauguration after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, officials plan to deploy 6,000 law enforcement officers and 7,000 U.S. troops. Roughly 60 federal, state and local agencies will handle security, led by the U.S. Secret Service.
Hardly unexpected–they shut down the streets surrounding the Mall for rallies and special events with some regularity–but certainly annoying to those who have to get around by car. The obvious answer is Metro, although their record ihandling overflow traffic is mixed.
I plan to attend the Inauguration, given that I both have the day off and this is the first time that it’s been practical for me to do so. Still, I dread the congestion.