Capital area indeed was full, its thoroughfares were not

October 17, 1995|By JOHN B. O'DONNELL AND BRAD SNYDER | JOHN B. O'DONNELL AND BRAD SNYDER,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Driving was a breeze. Parking was plentiful. Sidewalks were semi-deserted a half-dozen blocks from the Million Man March site. Thousands of Washington workers, heeding warnings to avoid traffic gridlock, took the day off or found another way to work. By some estimates, up to 40 percent of federal workers stayed home or attended the march.

The surprising result was an uncommonly easy commute for those who drove to work. But those who came into the city by train or subway encountered congestion, delays and frustration.

Debbie Reinecke usually spends 70 minutes driving from Annapolis to Washington. Yesterday's trip took only 45 minutes. "I did 65 the whole way to Rhode Island Avenue without hitting my brakes," Ms. Reinecke said.

Maryland and Virginia highway officials reported light traffic on roads into the capital. Traffic on Interstate 95 between Baltimore and Washington was only slightly heavier than usual. "It seemed to go like a fairly normal rush hour," said Valerie Burnette Edgar, ,, a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

The city's subway system and commuter rail lines from Maryland and Virginia were jammed, as were Amtrak trains.

The Washington Metro system was swamped. Metro reported 515,000 riders by 4 p.m., about 180,000 more than a typical Monday, according to Cheryl Johnson, a spokeswoman.

The Mass Transit Administration put 11 extra trains on the line to and from Baltimore's Penn Station. MARC carried nearly 18,000 passengers to Washington on the Penn Line, triple its normal patronage, said a spokesman. The Virginia commuter rail service carried 30 percent more passengers.

Amtrak added three morning trains to the six that normally travel the northeast corridor to Washington. They had standing-room-only as they reached the capital, carrying more than 8,000 passengers, said Rick Remington, a spokesman.

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