- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
District braces for road chaos
Question of the Day
Road-closing plans for Tuesday’s inaugural ceremony could extend to Interstate 95 and other major highways, going well beyond the unprecedented measures already announced with the prospect for traffic headaches beyond anything ever experienced, officials say.
From a security viewpoint, the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama will be “the largest event ever in the world,” FBI official Joseph Persichini Jr. told a group of security professionals at a briefing last week.
Virtually every media organization in the world has applied for credentials to cover the swearing-in of the 44th president, he added.
Estimates call for close to 2 million visitors, which would make the inaugural crowd the largest ever to descend on the U.S. capital. Publicly announced plans already call for closing three Potomac River bridges and two interstate highways feeding into the District from Virginia.
Mr. Persichini told the professionals, including a representative from The Washington Times, that authorities might also close parts of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Interstate 295, two major freeways skirting the city’s eastern edge. They may also close ramps on and off of I-95 — the main interstate running from Maine to Florida — as it runs through the eastern Maryland suburbs.
Certain feeder roads within the District but miles from the downtown area where the inauguration will take place could also be closed at times, said Mr. Persichini, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office. He added that there have been no credible threats of an attack on Mr. Obama.
Other facilities will be stretched to the breaking point, with the U.S. Postal Service announcing it will not deliver mail in some ZIP codes and mass-transit officials saying any buses that break down in central Washington will be left where they are until Wednesday at the earliest.
Employees at many downtown offices have been advised to get as close as they can by car or mass transit and complete their commutes on foot.
The security clampdown begins Sunday with restrictions on access to the Mall — the site of a gala free concert — and will peak between 3 a.m. Tuesday and 7 a.m. Wednesday, when the major bridges and highways will be closed to private vehicles.
Some roads affected by the swearing-in and the parade will be closed at 1 p.m. Monday for a security sweep.
In the downtown area surrounding Tuesday’s festivities, security barriers will make it impossible for those who attend the noon swearing-in to get in place for the 2 p.m. parade from the Capitol along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.
There also is concern about sanitary facilities, with some doubting the estimated 5,000 portable toilets will be adequate for the immense crowds.
The region’s mass-transit authorities plan to expand services, but Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. has already sent up two yellow flags: Parking lots that hold 60,000 spaces are expected to be filled within two hours of the 3:30 a.m. opening; and many trains serving the District are expected to be filled to capacity.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said, “This is not your typical day in our country’s history; this is not a typical crowd. This is not like throwing your family in the van and heading down to a visit at the Air and Space Museum. You need to have a plan.”
But even those who plan carefully for the day could be frustrated. The official arrangements are “changing daily,” D.C. Council member Jack Evans told The Times.
About the Author
Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...
- SIMMONS: Students make strides, but D.C. withholds funds
- SIMMONS: Re-education of humanity and the PC crowd
- SIMMONS: What happened in Vegas can't stay in Vegas
- SIMMONS: Tell Joe Biden and the NAACP that politics aren't black and white
- SIMMONS: Youthful sounds of music stirring in Prince George's County
Latest Blog Entries
By Orrin G. Hatch
Procedural changes impede the chamber's traditional deliberative function
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Pentagon wants extra $19M to equip, train Ukrainian troops
- 'Big Bang' star Mayim Bialik helps send bulletproof vests to IDF
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- Australia issues arrest warrant for men believed to be homegrown ISIL terrorists
- Iraq Christians get meeting with top Obama aide
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors