'Human Gridlock' Plagues Ceremony

Inauguration spectators wait for hours to get in and out of Mall area
By Rebecca Smith Hurd,  Newser User
Posted Jan 20, 2009 3:16 PM CST
Crowds take part in the inauguration of President Barack Obama along the National Mall today in Washington.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The record-breaking crowd—an estimated 1.8 million people—at today’s inaugural events is overwhelming Washington’s streets and mass-transit systems, creating long waits for spectators trying to exit the Mall area, the Post reports. Hours after the swearing-in, some were still waiting to enter Metro stations. “It’s something you have to endure for the chance of a lifetime,” one traveler said.

Others were frustrated by the sea of humanity, which caused them to be pushed, trapped, or prevented access to the scene. “This is the worst experience ever,” one woman said. Metro officials are trying to ease the “human gridlock” by opening gates and letting passengers ride for free. Meanwhile, local hospitals report treating dozens of people, mostly for cold- or alcohol-related issues.