Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Driving to the Jon Stewart rally? Don't even try it. But if you must...

October 27, 2010 - 11:07 PM
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(Photo: Jay Westcott)

Putting together a guide on driving and parking here this weekend is like putting together a guide on running with the bulls or taking peyote. We first have to ask: Are you sure you're up for this?

Now, having done our due diligence, we invite you to read on.

Get to Metro lots early

If you’re coming by car, it’s a good idea to park at a Metro station lot and hop on a train to get downtown. In fact, it’s such a good idea that many, many other people will try doing it. So expect lots to fill up quickly. We recommend you consult this list of stations that include parking, then pick one out along your route, along with a few backups. (Parking is free on weekends, if you manage to get a space.) Keep in mind, if you’re ultimately riding Metro, it doesn’t matter a whole lot which station you board at – they’re all headed toward downtown. So it might be a good idea to hop on at a station on the outer edges of the system (maps here), where you’ll have a better shot at a space.

Forget coming in from Virginia via 395 the day of the rally

It’s just a bad idea. It leads you smack into downtown. Even if it’s not horribly tied up, you’ll have a hell of a time finding a place to put your car. And if you do manage to find on-street parking somewhere in Southwest or near the Mall, many of those roads there will be closed off early Sunday morning for the Marine Corps Marathon (closure details here). Which means you wouldn’t be able to get your car out of there the morning after the rally.

You’re much better off making an approach from the northwest, northeast, and southeast ‘burbs of the city, on thoroughfares like Connecticut Avenue NW, New York Avenue NE/Route 50, and Pennsylvania Avenue SE.

But forget Georgia Avenue NW entirely

Did we mention that other massive party this weekend? Yes, it also happens to be Howard Homecoming. Georgia Avenue is going to be snarled, most likely from Friday night straight on through Saturday and into Sunday. Trying to make your way south through the university area on Saturday morning is a fool’s game: You’ll have the hallowed Yard Fest (featuring Slick Rick and Rick Ross!) to compete with.

Also stay away from Key Bridge and Georgetown

More bad news for folks trying to come from Virginia: Georgetown is having its big Halloween celebration on Saturday and Sunday. M Street and Wisconsin Avenue NW won’t be closed, but they’ll be tough to navigate, and many of the side streets will be subject to parking restrictions. (Details here.) Best to avoid.

Don’t expect to find anywhere to park near downtown

They’re going to disappear fast, including in the garages and lots. And even if you scored one on-street, most of the spaces downtown are metered with two-hour limits, many of them with Saturday enforcement. You wouldn’t be able to feed it throughout the rally. Saturday should be a monster day for the D.C. Department of Public Works’s parking enforcement officers. If you get into a metered space be prepared to eat a ticket.

Hunt for parking before you get downtown

Even on days like this, you can often find a parking space in one of D.C.’s near-downtown neighborhoods, like Shaw or Truxton Circle (though Howard Homecoming will complicate that this year). See how close you can get to the traffic plume and consider dumping your car before it’s hopelessly tied up. But mind the Saturday residential parking regulations, which only give you two hours. Some neighborhoods have this restriction, some don’t. Check the signs and maybe save yourself a $30 ticket.

And plan your escape ahead of time.

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