January 20 will be a tough trek for employees

There is no doubt that getting into Foggy Bottom will be a challenge on Inauguration Day, but preparations are being made to ensure all GW employees whose services are crucial can get to work safely and on time.

Like all nongovernmental citizens entering the city for festivities, University Police Department officers, doctors at the GW Hospital and staff at J Street will face definite travel constraints.

“Tuesday will not be a lot of fun,” said Sodexo Resident District Manager Mohsen Emami, “But we have an obligation to serve the University community, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Almost all roads between 23rd Street and the U.S. Capitol will be closed to traffic on Jan. 20 and all bridges between Virginia and D.C. will be closed to standard vehicle traffic. The Metro system is expected to be at full capacity, even in the early hours, which could slow down transit and discourage passengers from attempting to board trains.

Emami said that his company is doing everything to ensure that employees get to work without issue.

“Beginning at 2 a.m., we will be sending 15-passenger vans out to Virginia and Maryland to pick up employees,” Emami said. “The vans will come and go throughout the day, making sure our workers at J Street and the hospital are able to get to their job.”

Emami said about seven employees will be staying overnight at the Mount Vernon Campus.

At the hospital, doctors are expected to carpool and use public transportation, said Dr. Bruno Petinaux, co-chair of the emergency management program. Those who do not think they will be able to get to work on Tuesday morning are encouraged to stay overnight.

“We are continuing to reach out to government officials to discuss whether accommodations can be made so that essential hospital personnel can access the hospital more easily during the inauguration,” Petinaux said.

Some UPD officers will also be spending Monday night on campus to be prepared for work early Tuesday morning.

“The officers who are coming in on the 20th were offered the option to stay on campus on the night of the 19th,” UPD Chief Dolores Stafford said. “Some are staying and some have chosen not to stay and will report for duty for their morning shift from their homes.”

Stafford said that officers who are not staying on campus have made their own arrangements to arrive at work on time on Tuesday. There will be additional officers to “work 24/7” on both Monday and Tuesday, she said.

Despite extraordinary conditions expected on Tuesday, the University is working to make sure the day is as memorable and organized as possible.

“We will open J Street at 4 a.m. with coffee and breakfast for those who want to get a head start on the inaugural activities,” Emami said.

In addition, the hospital will close its Outpatient Rehabilitation and Ambulatory Surgery Centers and have no scheduled surgery or radiology procedures on Monday or Tuesday, Petinaux said.

“This is to avoid inconveniencing patients who otherwise do not need to travel downtown,” he said. “It also allows the hospital to free up resources, like operating rooms and medical personnel, to address the potential increase in patients who might present at the emergency department due to the anticipated crowds.”

Employers anticipate the unexpected for the day, but promise to continue doing their jobs thoroughly.

Inauguration Day “is expected to be bigger than anything we have seen before,” Emami said. “But we are prepared to be there for the community to make sure they are enjoying their day.”

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