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Driving to the Inauguration? Difficult, but Doable

Many roads will be blocked off, parking will be dicey.

Thinking of driving to the inauguration, are you? Access will be limited, but it can be done. Just be ready to sit in a lot of traffic.

“Because Inauguration Day falls on a legal public holiday – the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. — this year, tens of thousands of local residents of the District, Virginia, and Maryland will also be in attendance," at the 2013 presidential inauguration, warns Martha Mitchell Meade, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs, in a news release.

"... Motorists should keep a full tank of gasoline in their vehicles, just in case they are stranded or stuck in traffic," she noted. "Inauguration goers should have a fully charged cell phone. Because use may be limited, send a text message to someone who can call a tow truck or Virginia's Safety Service Patrol if you need roadside assistance.”

Bridges and Road Closure Information 

Road closures around the perimeter of the Inauguration begin Sunday at 7 a.m. and will stay in place until Tuesday at 7 a.m.

"Vehicle restricted zones" will be in effect starting at 7 a.m. Sunday through 7 a.m. Tuesday. Access into Washington, D.C. will be limited on Monday.

Closed or partially closed:

  • 14th Street Bridge to 14th Street: All traffic will be diverted by the Metropolitan Police Department onto the Southeast/Southwest freeway beginning at 5:30 a.m.
  • Roosevelt Bridge: Traffic coming from Virginia across the Roosevelt Bridge will be diverted into northbound Potomac River Expressway to Pennsylvania Avenue or Whitehurst Freeway/K Street. 
  • Memorial Bridge: Restricted to pedestrians and authorized vehicles only.
  • Third Street Tunnel: Closed to all vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic

Open:

  • Key Bridge: Open to all traffic
  • Chain Bridge: Open to all traffic
  • South Capitol Street Bridge: Open to all traffic
  • Southeast/Southwest Freeway: Open to all traffic
  • Rock Creek Parkway: Open to traffic (holiday traffic schedule in effect throughout the park)
  • Clara Barton Parkway: Operating under holiday schedule (two-way traffic all day)
  • 11th Street Bridges: Open to all traffic
  • Sousa Bridge: Open to all traffic from east of the river to security checkpoint at Capitol Hill
  • East Capitol Street: Open to all traffic. Roadways near RFK Stadium are primary routes for charter tour bus operators.
  • Benning Road: Open to all traffic
  • New York Avenue: Open to all traffic
  • Woodrow Wilson Bridge: Open to all traffic

Parking: Reserve a Spot?

So you've made it to Arlington or over a bridge and across the Potomac within a mile of the inauguration.

Now what?

You can book a parking spot online ahead of time through a service called Parking Panda. The company guarantees parking in a lot or garage on Inauguration Day when you use their service.

The inauguration "is rivaling a lot of the other business we see, especially because of the road closures," said Mark McTamney, director of marketing at the Baltimore-headquartered company.

(If you live near the Inauguration and have a primo parking spot to sell for the day, you can use Parking Panda to sell it.)

On Wednesday, at least 29 spaces were listed on the Parking Panda site as available on Inauguration Day. Prices range from $55 for the day for a space at 240 M St., 1.1 miles from the Mall to $15 per day for a spot at 1740 14th St. NW, 2.1 miles away. "People are strategizing," McTamney noted. They're trying to find a spot that's not too close to the action, to avoid gridlock.

Most of the parking spaces Parking Panda is offering for the Inauguration are in D.C., although there are a few spots in Arlington if you want to park and then walk/metro, grab a cab or bike it in from there. In Crystal City at 201 12th St., in Arlington, there's a space for $12. There's a bargain at 2000 15th St. N in Arlington, going for $5.50 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

McTamney notes that if you have a reservation (you can print it out or show your confirmation using their app, on your iPhone), don't be scared away if you see a "full" sign on the lot. Your spot will be reserved and waiting for you.

If you decide to go it alone and not reserve a parking spot, be sure to bring cash in case the lot, garage or meter does not take credit cards.

DC Parking Rules

The DC Department of Public Works will tag metered areas with "Emergency No Parking" signs throughout the city for Inauguration activities. DPW will ticket and tow illegally parked vehicles. If you get towed, motorists should call 311 or the Towing Control Dispatch Center at 202.541.6083 to learn where their vehicle has been towed. The tow fee is $100 and a $20 daily storage fee will be assessed after the first 24 hours. 

DPW will suspend enforcement of expired meters, residential parking and rush-hour lane restrictions.  Also, booting and abandoned vehicle removal will be suspended. Ticketing and towing will take place for all safety restrictions for cars parked at bus stops, blocking driveways, next to hydrants or in crosswalks.

Door-to-Door Inauguration Service

Want to hire your own private chauffer service for the day? If money is no object, you can hire someone to drive you "as close as they can get," said Evan Rodgers, marketing associate with Red Top Cab of Arlington.

The company is offering a sedan service Saturday, Sunday and Monday. For $93 an hour, with a 10-hour (consecutive hours) minimum, you can have a sedan at your beck and call to pick you up at home and drop you off as close to the inauguration as the driver can get you. The driver will then pick you up to go to dinner, balls or wherever else you'd like to go. The price includes gratuity, as well as the cost of a D.C. sedan permit of $150. There is no mileage charge.

"Basically, you get the sedan at whatever time you want, you hop in the car, they drop you off, wait for you, pick you up," Rodgers said. Sedans will hold four people. Red Top also offers an SUV service that holds six people, with a $108 minimum per hour.

Rodgers said Wednesday business is not booming as much as it was for the 2009 inauguration, but business for the service is picking up this week, as the weekend gets closer.

Rent a Car

You can rent a car for Inauguration Day, through a company such as Avis or ZipCar. ZipCar (you'll have to purchase a membership to use the service) offers cars at 41 metro stops. The service bills by the hour.

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