- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Despite an estimate by federal authorities of a record crowd of 2 million for President Obama’s inauguration, and a car crash that stalled I-95 north of Washington, transportation problems were relatively few Tuesday morning. An elderly woman’s fall onto the Metro tracks helped to snarl the subway briefly.

The coordinated strategy from local and national law-enforcement agencies to close down many of the highways leading into the District, as well as all bridges across the Potomac from Virginia, appeared to pay off Tuesday morning. Many roads, including the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and New York Avenue in from Maryland, were clear.

“A lot of the citizens, thank goodness, heeded the advice to take Metro and plan accordingly,” said Metropolitan Police spokesman Junis Fletcher, who started his shift at 2 a.m. However, many Metro stations were packed, with long delays and frustrated passengers. Metro parking lots quickly filled up.

Metro estimated that 733,982 people had boarded Metro as of 3 p.m. Service resumed at 10:15 a.m. at the Chinatown and Metro Center stops after a 68-year-old woman fell on the tracks at about 9:25 a.m.

The woman, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, was saved from an oncoming train by Houston Transit Police Officer Elliot Swainson

Officer Swainson was one of hundreds of visiting law-enforcement officers who were sworn in as District officers for the inauguration, a Metro spokeswoman said.

A Maryland Medevac helicopter was called to the accident on I-95 near Route 32, which closed two lanes of traffic briefly on Tuesday morning, according to the Twitter feed.

The day was otherwise quiet, said spokespeople for Inauguration Joint Information Center.

“This was a real success story and it’s a tribute to the people of the region who really heeded the advice of the past couple of weeks,” said Jack Cahalan.

The clear roads were not for lack of visitors, though: National Park Police declared the Mall east of 14th Street to be at capacity at about 9 a.m.

Masses of pedestrians, as well as cars, jammed downtown roads.

Crowds spilled over into the streets near Union Station, just north of the Capitol. Vendors lining the street pushed water bottles, sports posters and belt buckles, among scores of wares bearing pictures of Mr. Obama.

• Ben Conery contributed to this report.

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