The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has offered the following tips to help people who plan to attend the swearing-in ceremony for President-elect Barack Obama.
While the actual swearing-in will take place shortly before noon, the formal
program begins at 11:30 AM and the musical prelude and seating will begin
much earlier. Security checkpoints will open for ticketed guests at 8:00 AM,
and the committee advises arriving no later than 9:00 AM to ensure that you
are through the checkpoints by the time the program begins. Screening will
end when the program begins at 11:30 AM and late arrivals will not be able
to enter the grounds.
Getting to the Swearing-In
Getting to the swearing-in ceremonies that morning will be very difficult
because of the large crowds. In addition to the 240,000 ticketed guests, a
million or more people are expected to view the inauguration from the
National Mall between 4th Street and the Lincoln Memorial, along with
hundreds of thousands of others who plan on watching the Inaugural parade
down Pennsylvania Avenue.
We recommend planning ahead, but also caution that any plans made in advance
should be double-checked in the days and hours prior to the event in case of
changes to transportation schedules, street and other closures, and other
factors that may impact your travel plans. We also recommend developing
back-up plans in case your original travel plans need to be changed at the
The District of Columbia's inaugural Web site will have the most up-to-date
information on road closures and other travel alerts. We recommend that
guests bookmark the site, http://www.inauguration.dc.gov/index.asp, and
check it frequently for changing information.
A security perimeter will be established around the U.S. Capitol and the
parade route on or before January 20, 2009. Subway stations, bus stops, and
streets within that perimeter will be closed. Street closures throughout
Washington, D.C., will make traveling by car or taxi very difficult. Bridges
from Virginia crossing the Potomac River into Washington, D.C., as well as
major roadways from Maryland into Washington, D.C., may be closed to all but
Following are recommendations on how to get to the swearing-in ceremony:
Within 2 Miles of the U.S. Capitol
For those people who will be staying within 2 Miles of the U.S. Capitol,
walking to the swearing-in ceremony will be the most reliable method of
reaching the ticketed seated and standing areas. Be sure to carefully plan
your return trip as well - it won't be possible to cross the Pennsylvania
Avenue parade route, except at designated points and Metro will be extremely
crowded. For some people bicycling may be an option to get close to the U.S.
Capitol. While bicycles will be prohibited within the security perimeter on
January 20, 2009, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) is
working on a plan with city officials to have bike valet stations available
outside the security perimeter near the swearing-in ceremonies and parade
route. More information is available at: http://www.waba.org/index.php.
Beyond 2 Miles of the U.S. Capitol
Use public transportation to get you as close as possible to the U.S.
Capitol and walk from there.
D.C.'s subway system will be running "rush-hour" service all day, but is
expecting "crush-level" crowds. Be prepared to wait for space on a train for
long periods of time, during which you will have to stand in close proximity
to several thousand people. Many Metro escalators will be closed due to
crowding and individuals will need to climb Metro stairs or wait to utilize
the small number of elevators at Metro stations.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) plans to run
Metrobuses on Inauguration Day. Check its website, www.wmata.com, for
information regarding routes and schedules. As with any other travel
planning for January 20, please allow extra time and prepare a back-up plan.
AMTRAK, www.amtrak.com, and regional commuter trains, Virginia Railway
Express (VRE), www.vre.org, and MARC (Maryland) Commuter Train,
www.mtamaryland.com/services/marc/, will be operating reserved trains on
special schedules and are expected to sell out well in advance of January
20. Please visit their websites for more information.
Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities
There will be no vehicular access or parking in the areas around the
Capitol on January 20, 2009. This includes vehicles with special disability
license plates or tags. While there will be locations outside the perimeter
of the Capitol that will be designated as drop-off points for persons with
disabilities, traffic conditions and restrictions may make reaching these
drop-off locations extremely difficult.
As noted above, public transportation is expected to be running at "crush
capacity" and WMATA has informed us that while Metro Access will operate for
its regular customers, they do not expect to be able to provide pick-ups for
people after events.
There will be designated areas for people with disabilities in each of the
ticketed seating areas on the Capitol grounds, however these areas are
limited in size and available on a first-come first-served basis. Persons
in wheelchairs or utilizing walkers should be aware that they will need to
move across bumpy surfaces, grassy areas, and possible icy areas (depending
on the weather).
Other Important Considerations
The weather in Washington in January is usually quite cold and often rainy
or snowy. Please think carefully about whether you can stand outside in cold
weather in a large crowd for up to six hours, and whether you are ready for
long delays getting home afterwards.
Regardless of the weather conditions, umbrellas will not be permitted in the
ticketed areas. Other prohibited items include, but are not limited to:
Firearms and ammunition (either real or simulated), Explosives of any kind
(including fireworks), Knives, blades, or sharp objects (of any length),
Mace and/or pepper spray, Sticks or poles, Pockets or hand tools, such as
"Leatherman", Packages, Backpacks, Large bags, Duffel bags, Suitcases,
Thermoses, Coolers, Strollers, Laser pointers, Signs, Posters, Animals
(other than service animals), Alcoholic beverages, Other items that may pose
a threat to the security of the event as determined by and at the discretion
of the security screeners
Bring with you any medications that you need because there will be very long
delays in getting to and from events.
Be aware that it may be difficult to talk or send pictures from your cell
phone, according to wireless companies. Please use text messaging to send