- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Don't plan on crossing the 14th Street Bridge during the evening rush on Thursday, and don't think the Roosevelt and Memorial bridges will be better options. The Whitehurst and the Southeast-Southwest freeways will likely be jammed, too, and in all likelihood traffic along Pennsylvania Avenue will be clogged as usual. Don't for a minute consider Constitution or Independence avenues as alternatives, and forget about the Rock Creek Parkway, too. As a matter of fact, whether you're a commuter or tourist the best bet is Metro, where you'll be able to finish your inaugural to-do list.

Federal and local law-enforcement agencies have completed theirs, and it includes the need to close those aforementioned bridges and a request to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that federal workers be sent home early on Thursday. That is the day when, from 3:30 p.m. until shortly after sunset, the presidential inaugural committee will hold the opening festivities, called "Celebrating America's Spirit Together" at the Lincoln Memorial.

As you know thousands of folks flock to free inaugural events anyway and the celebrities lined up for Thursday's opening act are definitely crowd-pleasers. For starters the emcee is the king of gab, Larry King. Singers and performers include Latin heartthrob Ricky Martin, boxing legend Muhammad Ali and military bands, and fireworks to cap off the evening. As far as variety goes, there really and truly is something for all Americans.

Getting to and fro is another issue, however. Security and traffic concerns dictate closing the bridges. Also, the public will not be able to park near the Lincoln Memorial. And, although the media does an exceptional job of informing the public about station closings and police road blocks, rest assured the District's notorious ticket-writing crews will be out in full force.

Giving government workers the day off or dismissing them early would prove costly. The federal government's hourly payroll is a staggering $8.3 million. Again, that is $8.3 million per hour, and OPM ordinarily bases such leave policies on true emergencies, such as snowstorms.

Metro officials, meanwhile, are used to handling huge crowds and should be accommodating during all inaugural events with extra trains, buses and transit police. That is, after all, why Metro is subsidized with tax dollars and why it is called mass transit.


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