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No place to be on Jan 20
By Susan Olling

Every four years, January 20 is a day on the National Mall just like the 04 Jul.  There are a few differences, but the result’s the same:  the Mall is no place to be.
 
Before continuing, I would like to say a few things related to the upcoming festivities.  The local fish wrapper didn’t and still doesn’t have much positive to say about the upcoming administration change.  Mind you, we read this newspaper only on Sundays and the day after the local NFL franchise loses a game.
 
One of the local television stations has been asking people to comment about the inauguration, and some of these comments have been included on the local news.  Just stick to the news, please.  
 
To the president of Talladega College, thank you for taking the high road.  He announced that the college band will, despite opinions to the contrary on social media, be marching in the inaugural parade.
 
Back to why there are several reason for being anywhere but the National Mall on 20 Jan.
 
Crowds: Just like Independence Day, the Mall will be a mass of people.  However, given the boisterous election cycle, the election result and the days that followed the election, I will not be at all surprised to hear about fisticuffs on the National Mall between those who support the president-elect and those who don’t.
 
Security:  Like the Fourth of July, there will be police, security checkpoints and a list of items that will not be allowed past the checkpoints on 20 Jan.  In addition, local law enforcement will welcome the help of a few thousand police officers from all over the country and a few thousand National Guard members.  This writer hopes that the law enforcement presence will be large enough to keep order down there.
 
Road closures:  Not much of a problem on 04 Jul.  Difficult would be a charitable description of the driving conditions anywhere close to the Mall the week of 16 Jan.  There will be many road closures and restrictions on vehicles on 20 Jan.  Some road closures will start earlier in the week as will parking restrictions.  Alternate transportation is the operative phrase.  Which brings us to--
 
Metro:  Our little subway system in the travel option of choice on 04 Jul, and the only sane option the week of 16 Jan.  That said, I’m hoping our little subway system will make it through the week without tunnel fires, arcing incidents, track problems (particularly though downtown D.C.), or problems with trains.  There have been some recent occurrences of train cars separating from the rest of the train.  And these cars are the new ones.   There was a reported “computer glitch” during one recent morning rush hour in which all five lines were affected.   Lasted about one hour.  Lots of crowded platforms and unhappy riders.
 
To all the hordes using our little subway system on 20 Jan, surprise me.  I would be thrilled to hear that there were no fights or other disturbances in the system, and that includes on the trains (where you’re a captive) between fans of the president-elect and those who aren’t.   National Guard members will be in the Metro stations, in addition to Metro system’s police officers.  Perhaps they will be enough of a deterrent.
 
There will be five stations in and around the Mall and Capitol grounds closed on 20 Jan.  Metro’s suggesting that anyone going down there get off at stations farther away from the festivities and walk to the National Mall.  Will people heed this?  Is the Pope a Presbyterian?
 
Weather:  I was hoping for quite a few inches of snow on Inauguration Day.   Unfortunately, the extended forecast predicts temperatures on 20 Jan in the mid-50s—a heat wave for January—and morning rain.  No cases of hypothermia this time around. 
 
What doesn’t happen on the Fourth of July is customary for the inauguration:  locals rent rooms or their entire houses for inflated sums.   Find a hotel, even if it’s in Frederick or Fredericksburg.
 
Good luck to those who will be working down there on 20 Jan.   For the rest of you, plan your trips in advance of Inauguration Day; and check your politics at the security checkpoints (if not sooner).


 
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