The prelude to an inauguration is almost as weird as the word is to pronounce.

My office at Georgetown University’s Law Center isn’t far from the National Mall; I can look down the road and see the Capitol Building. It also gives me a second-row seat to preparations for a party so big, there’s only one in the whole country every four years. And let me tell you, it comes together quickly.

It started only last week, when an email alerted students, faculty and staff at my work of upcoming security measures. They told us when and where vehicle traffic would be restricted near the inaugural parade route. The security border started tight to the route, but expanded as the event drew closer. Today, the border encompassed my workplace. Anybody driving in was only allowed to continue if they flashed their school ID to Capitol Police.

I get to avoid that whole process because I ride the train to Union Station and walk the rest of the way. But that doesn’t mean my commute is unaffected.

Union Station itself has been a right mess this week. Half of it is closed to accommodate an indoor sound stage. The remaining half is saturated with five times as many K9 units as would normally patrol both halves of the station.

Because of the closure, only one entrance to the station is open. Usually it clogs up with pedestrians waiting for a break in the taxi traffic to actually leave. The taxi traffic itself would be a bit faster if it weren’t for the Amtrak Police parking their SWAT vans where everybody could get a good look at them. (I didn’t know the Amtrak Police even had SWAT teams.)


Preparations are not limited to the train station, of course. All week, city workers have been staging traffic barriers on the sidewalks near where the final security border will be. I didn’t really notice these preparations until Tuesday.

The barriers turned the sidewalks into a bit of a maze. The contingent of homeless people usually found around the Postal Museum have all but disappeared. 

Odd, new street signs point to color-coded locations, only properly identifying the Parade Route (in black) and Union Station (in white). I don’t know what’s going on at Purple or Orange, but I can tell you they are East of the train station.

Non-government entities have been setting up shop as well. Earlier this week, an NBC mobile news studio parked in front of a nearby Irish pub and hasn’t budged an inch since, effectively turning a two-lane road into one.

Today, vendors started setting up. I saw a number of food trucks, normally absent during the winter, and several souvenir stands where one can find a “Make America Great Again”-branded hoodie. I’m not sure what country the stand got the textiles from, but the smart money’s not on the one mentioned in the slogan.

Despite all this, there was a normal amount of traffic until today, when my train was half-empty. It set the standard for everywhere else I went on my way to work. While there were still a fair number of early-arriving tourists, most of the locals and work commuters weren’t going about their usual business. My co-workers and I will likewise be free tomorrow, at least.

I think I’ll stay away from the big event, though; I’m not a big fan of large crowds, loud noises and limited transportation. And I probably couldn’t pick a better example than the inauguration.

Andrew Young was assistant managing copy editor at the Sun Journal. He now works at Georgetown University’s Law Center in Washington, D.C. His statements do not represent the Sun Journal or Georgetown University.

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