ANC6B Holds Up R&R Marathon Pending Better Management Plan

The tentative course through Capitol Hill for the 2016 Rock 'n Roll Marathon

The tentative course through Capitol Hill for the 2016 Rock ‘n Roll Marathon

ANC6B Holds Up Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Pending Better Management Plan

WMATA Suggests Full Service Could Return to Stadium Armory Metro In 3 Months

by Larry Janezich

Still stinging over what they perceived as a badly mishandled 2015 Rock ’n Roll marathon, ANC6B told the organizer and WMATA that they wanted a concrete plan to keep the March 2016 race from repeating the chaos of this year.  The concerns have been heightened by WMATA’s estimate that service at Stadium/Armory Metro stop which is closest to the marathon’s RFK stadium finish line will be reduced for the next six months while fire damage near the stop is repaired.

Many residents of the city – especially in the Capitol Hill residential districts which suffer the greatest impact of the race – question whether the benefits to the city justify the disruption of the lives of so many residents.  DC hosts two annual marathons – the Marine Marathon in the fall (much of which is in Virginia) and the R&R Marathon in the spring (all of which is in DC).

At the October meeting of the ANC Planning and Zoning Committee, commissioners told the organizers that they wanted to hear from WMATA before considering approval of the marathon.

A long list of complaints about the 2015 race included:

Stadium/Armory Metro Stop overwhelmed with people trying to board trains on a weekend schedule.

Out of Service escalator at Stadium/Armory Metro contributed to huge back up of people trying to get onto Metro.

Discouraged riders walked in the rain to Eastern Market Metro, only to encounter backups there.

No alternate transportation – buses – available to facilitate moving of people.

Not enough WMATA and organizer personnel on site to manage and direct crowds.

Inadequate signage.

Police offices ignorant of cross over points where moving across the race course would be permitted.

Street closures earlier than announced.

WMATA Assistant General Manager Lynn M. Bowersox told the ANC that managing a 20,000 member crowd was difficult, and that with other – usually larger events – organizers pay WMATA the cost of increasing service to accommodate crowds. She said that a new assessment by WMATA suggests that normal service could be restored to Stadium/Armory Metro stop in three months instead of six.  Finally she offered that the escalator currently down for maintenance at the stop would be back in business by the end of January.  According to Bowersox, WMATA is open to addressing specific areas of concern, but, she said, she was only hearing generalities about overwhelming numbers of people.

Commissioner James Loots told Bowersox, “I want to hear more than Metro is returning to normal – because last year, normal was not good enough.” He said he could not support the race without a written commitment about what the organizers and WMATA will do to prevent recurrence of 2015.

Commissioner Brian Flahaven said that WMATA and the organizers need to be more proactive and that “it is a small thing to ask that the race have no negative impact on the community.”

The Commission subsequently voted not to support the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon until and unless the organizers and WMATA respond to a forthcoming list of concerns and provide commitments regarding concrete actions which will be taken to address those concerns.  The vote was unanimous, 10 – 0.

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