Inaugural Insanity

Stuff happens in Washington, DC, all the time. That’s part of what makes the DC metro area such an interesting place to live. We have political events—presidential inaugurations, State of the Union addresses, and more—as well as international events like IMF and World Bank meetings, protests, ‘Million Man Marches’, etc. We’ve grown accustomed to it. We don’t bat an eye at a motorcade going by, or Secret Servicemen milling around, or the metallic clang of the recessed, automated road blocks in the roads as we drive around the district—they’re designed to spring up and physically halt all traffic in an emergency. This is part of living near/in Washington.

But every once in a while, the whole place goes absolutely nuts—irrationally, stupidly nuts. The inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama (D) on the 20th—next Tuesday—is one such example.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the list of planned road closings. Obviously, some road closures are normal and expected for a Presidential inauguration or other major event in the heart of the city. But don’t you think we’re going a bit overboard? Every single Potomac River bridge leading into the city of Washington from Virginia will be closed—the 14th Street Bridge, the Roosevelt Bridge, the Memorial Bridge, the Key Bridge, and the Chain Bridge. Many (but, curiously, not all) of the bridges from the Maryland side of the Anacostia River will be closed too. The entire northern half of the George Washington Memorial Parkway—a major commuter route in Virginia—will be closed. Interstate 66 and Interstate 395, both major commuter routes leading from the outer Virginia suburbs into Arlington, Alexandria, and the District, will all be closed inside the beltway.

In other words, every single major freeway serving Arlington and Alexandria—Virginia areas that shouldn’t have to shut down for an event in DC—will be closed.

Even further out where I live, a solid 25 miles from DC, things are getting all mixed up. The Dulles Toll Road and Interstate 66 will each have HOV restrictions in place from the evening before until 3am on inauguration day, and then from 3am through to 6pm only buses will be permitted to use the HOV lanes that are usually open to all traffic outside of rush hour.

I know they’re expecting a lot of people, but isn’t it a bit overkill to shut down the entire metro region—effecting residents miles and miles and miles away from the city—for a major event downtown? Seriously people. Calm down.

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.