As Grand Prix officials are making final preparations for this weekend's race, traffic is backing up.
You say you still have to work Friday, when the downtown congestion and closings will be at their peak?
If you're coming from the north, west or due east, there shouldn't be much problem. But coming in from the south — from Anne Arundel, eastern Howard or Southwestern Baltimore County — could be a challenge. Light Street, Interstate 395 and Russell Street will all be closed Friday. Martin Luther King Boulevard will be the main route into downtown from the south, but it could become seriously congested.
With I-395 and Light Street closed for much of the extended weekend, the main north-south route into the city will be Martin Luther King Boulevard. City officials acknowledged that route could become seriously congested and urged drivers to venture farther afield to avoid central Baltimore.
For many who use public transportation, the Grand Prix will bring significant disruption.
The city's two Charm City Circulator routes will be affected. The north-south Purple Route will be split in two by the race, which will close Light Street at Pratt. A southern portion will circulate around Federal Hill and Sharp-Leadenhall. The northern part will run from Penn Station to Redwood Street.
The eastbound part of the Orange Route loop will shift from Pratt Street to Baltimore Street. Travelers going from downtown to Federal Hill can walk along the Inner Harbor promenade.
The light rail line between BWI-Marshall Airport and downtown will be split in two because the race course crosses the line at Camden Yards.
Northbound trains will end their run at Hamburg Street, near M&T Bank Stadium, while southbound trains will end at Baltimore Street. Riders who want to travel the full length of the route can take a shuttle bus that will ferry them from Baltimore Street to Hamburg via Martin Luther King Boulevard.
MTA spokesman Terry Owens acknowledged the transfer to the "bus bridge" would add time to the trip. "I would tell people, give yourself an extra half-hour to get through downtown," he said.
Riders of eight bus routes that cross downtown east to west will need to get off the bus, catch a free downtown shuttle, and make a second transfer.
MTA Deputy Administrator Simon Taylor acknowledged that the multiple transfers would be a burden to some riders and said the MTA would suspend fares on those routes from Thursday to Monday.
Taylor said the shuttles were expected to run every 10 minutes. He added that the agency would deploy supervisors throughout downtown to keep the service on track.
"They will be monitoring very closely to see how that is operating," he said.
Several other MTA routes that run north and south will either be diverted or cut short before reaching their usual destinations because Pratt Street will be closed.
MARC riders who use the Camden Line will have to present tickets or passes bought in advance to gain access to the Camden Station platform area Friday - because that area will be reserved for ticketed spectators. Riders who use the Penn Line will probably see few disturbances.
The least-disrupted mode of travel is likely to be the Metro, and MTA officials see the Grand Prix as an opportunity to showcase a subway that many local residents have never used. The agency is encouraging Grand Prix attendees and downtown workers to park at a Metro station and take a train to Lexington Market or Charles Center.
Reporter Frank D. Roylance contributed to this report.