- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Football fans headed tonight for the “NFL Kickoff Live” concert on the National Mall may clash with homebound commuters, creating a tailgating event of another sort.

Gridlock may be inevitable because of an estimated 250,000 concertgoers, hundreds of rush-hour commuters and showers forecast by the National Weather Service.

“There is a real potential of gridlock and chaos. Rush hour is a monster around here, and if you play with a monster, you just don’t know what you’re going to get,” said Lon Anderson, spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

But Dan Tangherlini, director of the D.C. Department of Transportation, says the city is ready for the masses of people “thanks to the hard work of Peter LaPorte, who put together the city’s Emergency Management Agency, which handles these large events.”

After the concert, which begins at 6 p.m. as part of the NFL Kickoff Festival, football fans will head to FedEx Field in Landover for a game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets.

Mr. Anderson advises motorists to avoid the Mall. No public parking will be available in or around the Mall, and several streets will be closed to traffic. Jefferson and Madison drives will be closed between Third and 14th streets from 6 a.m. until midnight; Seventh Street will be closed from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Fourth Street will remain closed until 7 a.m. Saturday.

Buses that travel along routes where streets are closed will be detoured, said Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.

“We want everyone to be aware that the Mall will be closed to pedestrians between Third and 14th streets from noon until 3:30 p.m. for a security sweep,” said Sgt. Scott Fear, spokesman for U.S. Park Police. Police will check for weapons, alcohol, glass containers, fireworks, chairs, tents, barbecue grills and other prohibited items.

The Office of Personnel Management announced late yesterday that nonessential federal workers with duty stations along the Mall would be allowed leave starting at 1 p.m.

Organizers are encouraging concertgoers to take Metro, which is extending operating hours until 2 a.m. and running six-car trains in the evening. Metro patrons will pay regular fares.

Miss Farbstein said Metro will increase its staff to guide crowds and keep pedestrian traffic moving. The Metropolitan Police Department also is increasing the number of officers on duty.

Sgt. Fear said 1,000 law enforcement officers will be in the immediate Mall area alone.

“Depending on the weather, we may have crowds that rock some Fourth of July numbers,” he said. “We have units on foot, in cars, on bikes, horseback, and even an aviation unit to fly overhead.”

Sgt. Fear said about 35 local, state and federal agencies will be at the site, and the Metropolitan Police Department will be using 14 closed-circuit surveillance cameras to monitor the activity on the Mall.

“The cameras will serve as a support mechanism to aid in crowd and traffic management,” Officer Kenneth Bryson said.

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