Sunday, November 14, 2004

It was a pleasant day for a walk yesterday — especially for the Redskins fans who saved $10 by parking at Landover Mall and walking the extra half-mile to FedEx Field.

“We save a few bucks everywhere else, so why not here?” said Ron Meadows, 39, of Ashburn, Va.

“I’m not afraid to walk,” said his daughter, Shay, a teen-age soccer player.

Father, daughter and son, Sloan, parked their van at the mall, which was a popular destination for fans taking advantage of a ruling that overturned a ban on pedestrian traffic from the mall to the stadium.

Mall owners charged $15 per parking space yesterday, compared with $25 for a space in the parking lot around FedEx Field. Of the 5,000 spaces at the mall, only a few hundred were vacant.

The change created another problem: The pedestrians had to cross the intersection of Landover and Brightseat roads.

“Now we need an overpass,” some of them grumbled.

The Redskins-Cincinnati Bengals game began at 4 p.m. By 2:30, dozens of pedestrians crowded the west-side sidewalk, waiting eight minutes for traffic lights and Prince George’s County police to signal them to cross.

“They’ve got to be patient,” said police Sgt. Doug Epperson. “It’s just a 10-minute walk to the stadium, but it’s a 20-minute ride to Prince George’s Hospital [Center].”

“So far, it’s not too bad,” said Sgt. Epperson, who has directed traffic for Redskins games for several years. He expected — and hoped — vehicle and pedestrian traffic would be as smooth in the dark after the game ended.

“It may be good training for the next time,” said Sgt. Epperson, noting that the next Redskins game will be played at night.

Two fans from Clinton drove into Landover Mall at 12:30 p.m., set up a couple of chairs and a grill and waited for friends. Vincent Smith, 36, and David Brown, 43, are faithful Redskin season ticketholders and employees of Giant Food.

They would have preferred parking at the FedEx lot.

“It’s hard to get a parking pass and ticket at the same time,” Mr. Brown said.

“I had a season ticket, but I wasn’t able to get a parking pass,” Mr. Meadows said.

“I think to pay for parking and to ride a bus [to the stadium] are insane,” said Len Trahan, 59, a retired army veteran of Vienna, Va., who was pleased to park at Landover Mall and walk to the game with his grandson, Ryley, 13.

“I didn’t mind the $15,” said Mr. Trahan. “I didn’t want to pay money to park and then queue up in a line for a bus.”

Before 2:45 p.m., the pedestrian fans were filling the sidewalk. At one time, 117 were walking together to the stadium. About eight minutes later, another similarly sized crowd filled the sidewalk.

As they neared the stadium, the walkers had to pass through a mysterious stench emanating from a construction site.

Landover Mall parking doesn’t bother Diamond Robinson, 15, and Chamia Randall, 17, who live in the Maple Ridge Apartments across from the mall.

“They should be able to park over there,” Miss Randall said. “This causes so much traffic.”

“They should be able to walk wherever they want for free,” Miss Robinson said.

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