Washington Metro Packed for Inaugural

With cars prohibited into the National Mall, and trains booked up for weeks, Washington's mass transit system was pushed to its limits this morning as people crammed in for the inauguration.
January 20, 2009, 2pm PST | Tim Halbur
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"Widespread road closures, including all six of the bridges spanning the Potomac and Anacostia rivers and the major highways linking the nation's capital with Northern Virginia, forced visitors to bike, walk or take the bus or train downtown. Once downtown, they encountered a surreal scene: armored military vehicles blocked off streets that are usually packed with cars, and hordes tried to squeeze through checkpoints to enter the mall.

Already, much of the mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument -- an area roughly a mile long and two hundred yards wide and capable of filling with an estimated 1.5 million people -- is jammed with people standing shoulder to shoulder in sub-freezing temperatures.

With car traffic blocked and commuter trains and charter buses sold out weeks in advance, the biggest strain appears to be falling on the Washington Metrorail system, which started operating rush hour service at 4 a.m. and had processed over 409,000 riders by 9 a.m. Motorists queued up to enter station parking lots across the area before they opened, and by 6 a.m. several were already full."

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Published on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 in The Wall St. Journal
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