The first Orioles game in three days came off without a hitch yesterday, despite fears that streets closed by the downtown railroad tunnel fire would cause gridlock as fans streamed to Camden Yards.
City officials said they won't be able to open more streets in time for today's doubleheader, and it will probably take a few days before traffic is back to normal.
The tunnel runs directly under Howard Street, a north-south artery that is used by cars and light rail. But before the street can be reopened, officials have to determine how much structural damage to the tunnel was caused by the fire and a resulting water-main break.
But fans on their way to the game last night said getting to the ballpark was no problem.
Katie Huffman, 24, and Laura Bonavia, 24, had been checking the Internet all day to make sure last night's game was still on.
The only thing that really worried them was attire. A "shoe issue" prevented them from leaving home in Washington until 6:45 p.m. They made it to the park by 7:20 p.m.
"I smoke cigarettes, so I'm not too concerned with toxins in the air," Huffman said. "We really just wanted to watch a ballgame."
Bret Mingo, 32, of Annapolis, who won tickets to last night's game in a dart match 10 days ago, was excited to take his companion, Amy Vansant, 32, also of Annapolis, to her first game. He was disappointed the trip to the stadium was so normal.
"I was looking for purple fumes," Mingo said. "I was just looking for something dramatic."
Still, Baltimore Public Works Director George L. Winfield said travelers should expect detours and delays today and tomorrow.
"That's the expectation, especially if you're trying to traverse the city from east to west or west to east," he said. But, he added, "We think we have a plan that is going to address some of the concerns that we have."
He said the goal is to keep cars away from the Inner Harbor.
"If it gets there, it's going to bottleneck," he said.
The three Orioles games were the major traffic concerns of public works officials this weekend, because the normal routes to Oriole Park from the north and south were closed.
The best advice for baseball fans is to plan on arriving at the ball park early and to heed the directions of city police and detour signs, said Kurt L. Kocher, Public Works Department spokesman.
"I think we can really deal with it, as long as everyone follows the advice we're giving," he said.
Kocher urged fans to use specific routes to get to the ballpark. Those traveling from the north to downtown should exit Interstate 83 at North Avenue, city officials said. From there, drivers will be directed across Mount Royal Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and to the Ravens parking lot at PSINet Stadium.
Drivers arriving downtown from the south should take Russell Street to Haines Street, where signs will direct people to parking lots.
Travelers headed to the baseball game last night were able to take the MTA light rail system from the South directly to Camden Yards, but the light rail stops from North Avenue south to Patapsco Avenue remained shut last night.
MTA officials encouraged travelers heading downtown to use the Metro subway system, most of which continued to run throughout the tunnel incident.
One subway station, State Center Station, was shut down Thursday and Friday. But it was reopened yesterday afternoon, said Wayne Jubb, MTA director of operations. The subway system usually is closed Sundays, but Jubb said it would operate today at the request of Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who expressed concerns about traffic problems in downtown Baltimore. The Metro will operate today from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The second game starts at 7:35 p.m.
Sun staff writers Gail Gibson, Erika Niedowski and Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this article.
Metro: Although it is normally closed Sunday, the Metro subway system will be open today from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.
The Mass Transit Administration says the Metro is the best way to get into the city.
Light rail: The MTA will operate a shuttle bus bridge this weekend between its Patapsco and North Avenue stops, with buses traveling along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Eutaw Street and North Avenue. The buses will go from the North Avenue station to the Patapsco station with no stops in between. Expect major delays, as the buses will be navigating through heavy traffic. Service will be normal from Patapsco Avenue to the Cromwell Station in Glen Burnie.
MARC: The Camden Line will operate only between St. Denis Station and Union Station in Washington. The MTA encourages Camden Line riders to use the Dorsey Station parking lot or, if possible, take the Penn Line, which will follow its normal schedule. No parking will be available at the St. Denis Station.
Buses: No MTA buses will be crossing Howard Street between Mount Royal Avenue and Pratt Street. Buses will not follow established routes and schedules. They will follow detours and directions provided by the Baltimore Police.
More information is available at 800-325-RAIL or on the Web at www.mtamaryland.com.