D.C. Braces for Inauguration Gridlock

The inauguration presents many challenges for local residents. (Courtesy photo)

In New York, the locust of rippling slowdowns is in midtown Manhattan.

“All storeowners were all blocked up,” Jonathan, a construction superintendent, told the Guardian. He couldn’t help noticing that since Donald Trump’s election win, his Trump Tower had become a fortress-like impediment on a major crosstown thoroughfare, forcing the city’s politicians, police, pedestrians and all things on wheels to adjust to the new normal.

“The first couple of days, it was impossible,” he said.

It’s a scene D.C. knows all too well.

For District residents, traffic snarls, commuter slowdowns and Metro delays are particularly epic during inaugurations.

“This will be my sixth inauguration since I moved to D.C. and I’m just not looking forward to it,” said Marjorie Sellers, a marketing consultant who works on F Street in Northwest, just blocks from the White House.

This year, Sellers said she’s leaving town, getting away from the gridlock, if just for the day.

“I would go to New York, but I understand that because of his buildings there, it’ll be a headache there too, so maybe I’ll just stay with friends in Baltimore,” Sellers said.

While the typical inaugural festivities are sufficient to create commuting nightmares, the swearing-in of Trump as the nation’s 45th president brings even more unique challenges.

Several protests, including one led by the Rev. Al Sharpton, are scheduled to take place.

“When you have such a controversial president-elect who has insulted and angered just about every minority group in existence, you are going to have some pushback,” said Landon Shumpert, a certified public accountant who works in Northwest. “The presence of Sharpton in this case was to be expected, but it also means that security will be even more heightened and the authorities will probably be all the more vigilant.”

While crowd control and the protection of the new president and other dignitaries are paramount, officials in the District also are likely finalizing the city’s evacuation plan to be used in emergencies.

Yue Liu, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s College of Engineering & Applied Science, was key in developing the D.C. area’s official evacuation plan implemented for the 2009 presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.

In a news release, Liu said the plan included using 50,000 Metro and school buses to evacuate the area.

Since Hurricane Katrina, many U.S. cities have implemented evacuation plans to manage natural and man-made disasters, including earthquakes, acts of terrorism and recurring civic events such as sporting events.

City evacuations have been Liu’s area of expertise for a decade and he was key in creating official evacuation plans for several U.S. cities and regions, including Baltimore; Ocean City, Maryland; the state of Maryland; and the East Coast — from Delaware to North Carolina — to use in the event of a hurricane.

During Obama’s second inauguration, police shut down dozens of downtown Washington streets and closed major arteries into the city, CNN reported.

For Trump’s inauguration, parking is expected to be tighter than usual and bags will be inspected. Tickets, as per usual, will be required to get close to the ceremonies.

The inauguration weekend National Special Security Event will have the Secret Service leading a web of agencies pulling together security and transportation to handle the throng expected to see Trump take the oath of office.

The Secret Service, Metropolitan Police Department, Capitol Police and Park Police are expected to shut down major and minor roads alike around Capitol Hill, where the ceremony will take place.

They’ll secure the National Mall and the Memorial Bridge, which connects the Virginia side of the Potomac to Washington near the Lincoln Memorial, will be open to foot traffic only.

It’s not New York, but the Big Apple mayor’s advice for his residents may as well be told to District dwellers.

“To the extent that you can avoid the immediate area … that will make your own life easier, and everyone’s life easier,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

About Stacy Brown 152 Articles
I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.