VDOT launches massive effort to control inauguration traffic

By Aaron Gilchrist - bio | email

Posted by Colby Rogers

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWBT) -Those planning to drive into Washington, D.C. on inauguration day should forget about it. There will be zero access for personal vehicles coming from Virginia - but that doesn't mean Interstate 95 will be jam-packed.

Several state agencies have devised a massive plan to manage hundreds of thousands of buses and cars.

The brand new Incident Command Center in Fairfax - Virginia's ground zero for inauguration week - will house state police, VDOT and Fairfax Emergency Management, all monitoring road conditions and responding to problems.

"The Incident Command is going to begin around noon on Sunday and we'll be here as late as Thursday or Friday," said Joan Morris of the Virginia Dept. of Transportation. "It just depends on when that traffic clears out of D.C."

The first mission is managing the traffic going into Washington,  and VDOTt knows that I-95 will be bursting at the seams all weekend.

"The HOV lanes that take you into Washington are going to be reserved just for carpools Saturday night, all day Sunday, all day Monday and then everything changes at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning," Morris said.

Starting at 3 a.m. on Tuesday until 6 p.m. personal vehicles will only be allowed within 15 miles south of D.C. on I-95. From that point, only buses, taxis and limos will be allowed onto I-395.

Personal vehicles that don't get off I-95 by exit 169 will be diverted around D.C.

"The concern is that if D.C. is just absolutely inundated, crushed with traffic that people would not be able to get into the district at all," Morris said, "and would possibly abandon their cars on 395 and start walking in to the inaugural event and that we can't let happen."

Shutting off access to 395 is only a small part of VDOTs plan. Engineers anticipate traffic could be backed up on I-95 for dozens miles and it has a plan to deal with those drivers too.

Eighty safety patrollers will be on the highway waiting to help any disabled motorists. That's 70 more than usual.

In addition, all the bridges, ramps, and commuter parking lots are being pre-treated with anti-icing chemicals.

"Forget the forecast," Morris said. "Doesn't matter what it's going to say. We'll be out on Saturday and Sunday treating roads in advance of any kind of precipitation just to be on the safe side."

Even the rest areas along 95 are stocked with extra port-a-potties.

"We will also have seven wreckers pre-positioned on interstates, so if there are any major accidents we can clear them quickly," Morris said.

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