- The Washington Times - Monday, September 1, 2003

Commuters traveling in and out of the District should be prepared to face traffic delays around the National Mall this week as the National Football League celebrates the start of the season by holding activities there.

D.C. government officials say they expect the four-day, $10 million festival, called the NFL Experience, to cause delays through Thursday, when authorities will shut down more roads running through and around the Mall.

Police have already closed 4th Street between Pennsylvania and Independence avenues Southwest. That street is expected to reopen at 7 a.m. Saturday.

They also have closed 12th Street between Independence Avenue and C Street Southwest. That street will reopen at 7 a.m. Friday.

As a result, commuters may get stuck in tie-ups along Constitution and Independence avenues as football fans flock to the Mall to take part in football clinics and carnival-type games.

The festival opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. The carnival events end tomorrow.

Police are expected to close more roads on Thursday, when NFL officials sponsor a star-studded concert on the Mall. Gates will open at 4 p.m.

Authorities are expected to close off Madison and Jefferson drives between 3rd and 14th streets Southwest from 6 a.m. until midnight, and 7th and 9th streets between Pennsylvania and Independence avenues Southwest from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. that day.

Also on Thursday, there will be no parking on the closed roads and pedestrians will not be allowed to enter the Mall between 3rd and 14th streets from noon to 3:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, commuters could face some delays on the Roosevelt Bridge, which filters traffic onto Constitution Avenue, as road crews repair curbs on the 40-year-old crossing.

Weekdays, there will be four lanes in the rush-hour direction and two in the opposite direction. There will be three westbound lanes and two eastbound lanes during non-rush hours.

This past winter’s severe weather damaged the bridge’s curb lanes, making the $3 million, three-month repair project necessary. D.C. transportation officials say 100,000 cars use the bridge daily.

The festival, which started yesterday with a series of sports clinics and interactive exhibits, will culminate Thursday with a tailgate concert from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. featuring artists Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Aerosmith and Good Charlotte.

The concert precedes the Washington Redskins season opener against the New York Jets at FedEx Field in Landover.

U.S. Park Police Assistant Chief Dwight E. Pettiford said yesterday security plans for the concert will resemble the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration on the Mall.

“We’re used to hosting events,” Chief Pettiford said. “This is what we do.”

Four security checkpoints with metal detectors will be set up to screen people as they arrive.

Two checkpoints will be on the east curb of 14th Street between Madison and Jefferson drives.

Another checkpoint will be located on 12th Street south of Constitution Avenue NW and the fourth will be on 12th Street north of Independence Avenue SW.

“What you’re seeing is what you’re going to see in the future at major events,” Chief Pettiford said. He said officers will maintain a presence at the festival through Thursday night, adding that the event’s sponsors will pay the National Park Service for the extra security.

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