Big Crowd Seen For Inauguration

Washington (AP) -

While Washington probably won’t see the record turnout of 2009, officials are planning for a bigger-than-average crowd for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.

District of Columbia officials have pieced together early data projecting 600,000 to 800,000 people will crowd onto the National Mall on Jan. 21. That projection is based on past attendance and data such as current hotel and restaurant reservations and chartered bus permits. The National Park Service is making plans for crowds to spread across about 12 blocks of the National Mall, from the Capitol to 12th Street.

The Metro transit system is making plans for a similar-size crowd, based on its past ridership. Transit officials say they will run the system at maximum capacity with peak rush-hour service for 17 hours on Inauguration Day, from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The inauguration is the biggest event every four years in the capital, followed by the annual July Fourth celebrations. The 2009 inauguration broke records when 1.8 million packed in shoulder to shoulder to see the first black president take the oath of office.

The city’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency chief, Chris Geldart, co-chairman of the district’s presidential inaugural committee, said he is hearing that some people who were overwhelmed by the 2009 crowd projections and stayed away now see 2013 as a second chance to witness history. Officials are expecting more people who live within driving distance in Maryland and Virginia to attend.