Are you traveling to Washington, D.C. for the January 20th Barack Obama inauguration? I am recommending that your travel itinerary be set to arrive at Washington at least 48-72 hours prior to the event to mitigate the madness.
Let us evaluate.
The already heavily traveled Eastern seaboard corridor will be paralyzed with traffic. I am foreshadowing that Interstate 95 will degenerate into a zoo from New York City to Richmond. I doubt that Midwest motorists traveling to Washington, D.C. from the Heartland will confront a traffic headache of any sort until arriving at Interstate 270 in Frederick, MD.
From Points South: Take Interstate 85 to merge with I-95 at Petersburg, VA and continue on to Washington, D.C. Typically, Interstate 95 is a quick, six-lane coastal plain 120 mile jaunt from Richmond to Washington. Ironically, the roadway barrels through historical Civil War battleground country. Union General Ulysses S. Grant harassed Confederate military General Robert E. Lee throughout this dense Virginia brush in his grueling Wilderness Campaign that effectively ended the Civil War.
Virginia is home to the monuments of decorated Confederate Civil War Generals that battled to preserve their “Southern Way of Life” and were willing to die to protect the wretched institution of slavery: Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1), Fort A.P. Hill, Stonewall Jackson High School, Robert E. Lee Highway (U.S. 29). Certainly, these people have rolled over in their graves 1,865 times at this point.
But I digress.
Traffic becomes congested at Fredericksburg and the Rappahannock River. This is the entry point for Northern Virginia and local DC traffic. Good luck from here.
The bottleneck increases into Fairfax County and the legendary Springfield I-95, I-495 Capitol Beltway, I-395 mixing bowl that has snarled generations of East Coast traffic. I am advising that motorists continue straight ahead into Washington on I-395 – Shirley Highway through Alexandria and Arlington. The DC approach over the Potomac via the 14th Street Bridge is a magnificent Washington and Jefferson Monument postcard vista.
Do not get on to the I-495 Capitol Beltway.
From Points North: Do not get cute with the East Coast bypass. Navigating the East Coast with the assistance of the I-695 Baltimore Beltway, I-895 Harbor Tunnel, U.S. 1, I-295 (New Jersey), I-287 (Tri-State), and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway is penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Take the New Jersey Turnpike and Interstate 95 to Washington. Period.
We recognize that “I-95 New Jersey Turnpike to Washington, D.C.” is a phrase that makes little sense in actuality. First, Interstate 95 mysteriously disappears at Trenton and only the northern half of the New Jersey Turnpike is signed as “95.” Also, Interstate 95 never enters DC city limits. I-95 meets the Capitol Beltway at Prince Georges County and bypasses the District through Maryland and into Virginia.
The kinks along Interstate 95 and the fragmented Washington, D.C. expressway network are courtesy of a “Not in my Backyard” backlash to Highway building. New Jersey residents shut down plans to build a section of roadway from Trenton and into North Jersey that would complete Interstate 95; and Baltimore-Washington residents have crushed any proposal to build urban freeways. Note the “ghost ramps” to nowhere that plague the Baltimore cityscape along Interstate 95. These were actually entryways to proposed freeways that have since been killed by constituents.
But I digress. Again.
Proposed route to January 20 Barack Obama Presidential Inauguration from points north: Interstate 95 and the New Jersey Turnpike to Washington (I-495 Capitol Beltway).
Scenic Route: Take I-495 Beltway West for 5 miles from the Interstate 95 junction to Silver Spring and exit at U.S. 29 Colesville Road South. The 29 south control city signage will read “Silver Spring” and “Washington.” Follow U.S. 29 for three miles through downtown Silver Spring and continue straight ahead onto Maryland 384 at the Georgia Avenue intersection. Colesville Road ends at 16th street and the DC border. Make a left and cruise 16th Street into downtown Washington.
The upper 16th street corridor is bordered by Rock Creek Park to the west and begins as a residential area of stately mansions before transitioning into trendy, eclectic neighborhoods, and ultimately the backyard of the White House.
Quickest Route: I-495 Beltway West to Silver Spring. Take the first exit at MD 650 New Hampshire Avenue south to Takoma Park. Take New Hampshire Avenue into the District. Make a left turn onto North Capitol Street. North Capitol ends at the doorstep of the U.S. Capitol. Be sure to follow the primary flows of traffic as North Capitol changes course at Hawaii Avenue and becomes a quasi limited-access route through the Brookland area.
From The Midwest: Pennsylvania Turnpike to Interstate 70 to Interstate 270. 270 is a maddeningly narrow four-lane roadway from Frederick into Montgomery County. The highway opens up into local and express lanes at Gaithersburg, MD. The division is useless for out-of-town interstate traffic and has little impact upon easing the congestion.
I-270 is always a bottleneck from Frederick to “Washington,” or the 270 split into the I-495 Capitol Beltway. Motorists may access the GW Parkway, Wisconsin Avenue, or Connecticut Avenue into Washington, D.C. from the Beltway. I would recommend that drivers follow Interstate 270 towards the 495 “Silver Spring” designated split. Merge with I-495 and exit onto MD 185 Connecticut Avenue into Washington.
This Silver Spring Beltway to 185 route navigates away from the I-495 American Legion Bridge Potomac Crossing into Northern Virginia and Maryland’s 355 Wisconsin Avenue path through Bethesda and into Washington, D.C.
Connecticut Avenue is the lesser nightmare.
Flights from major Midwest and West Coast cities are in limited supply into and out of the Washington, D.C. area on dates surrounding the January 20 Obama Presidential Inauguration event. Travelers from these sections of the country must purchase plane tickets immediately to combat the inevitable wretched red-eye, price gouged, 3 layover flight. Budget at least $500 for roundtrip airfare. We will present the Southwest Airlines schedule as an example:
Chicago Midway / Baltimore-Washington International
MDW TO BWI: $195 – $264 on Sunday, January 18 2009
BWI TO MDW: $246 on Wednesday, January 21 2009 (Only one Flight available)
Los Angeles International / B.W.I.
LAX TO BWI: $336 – $422 on Sunday, January 18 2009
BWI TO LAX: $276 – $422 on Thursday, January 22 2009
*There are NO Southwest flights available from Baltimore or Dulles to Los Angeles on January 21 at the time of this writing.
Eastern Seaboard flights from Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Florida remain in great abundance into the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area on various carriers at this point. Round-trip pricing is ranging from $200 – $400 from Boston to Miami into the Nation’s Capitol.
I am recommending that travelers fly into Baltimore-Washington International. B.W.I. is located between Baltimore and Washington and is a less hectic commute into the Nation’s Capitol than Dulles International at Northern Virginia. Also, Southwest Airlines is typically the most economical nationwide carrier and accommodates travelers with a larger menu of flights into Baltimore than to Dulles.
You must really want to get to this historicalBarack Obama Presidential Inauguration, don’t you?
Prices range from $160 – $225 from Chicago and $354 – $480 from Los Angeles to Washington via Greyhound for the January 18-21 roundtrip.
Expect bus fare to be half the price of air travel, but at least ten times as expensive in terms of travel time alloted.
Attendees will be in serious trouble if lodging has not already been secured at this point. City hotels reported 91% occupancy rates at the 2005 Presidential Inauguration and I am foreshadowing that this figure will be shattered everywhere within a fifty mile radius of Pennsylvania Avenue. I am advising persistence because additional hotel space will become available as parties that have booked large blocs of rooms cancel these reservations at the last minute. Still, locating adequate inauguration accommodations will be no cakewalk.
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