Inauguration preps largely underway in D.C.

The presidential inauguration is a little more than a month away, but preparations are already underway. Earlier Thursday, Metro began selling 2013 commemorative inaugural SmarTrip cards featuring an image of President Obama. Emergency crews are getting ready for whatever they may face.

Drive down Pennsylvania Avenue and you can already see the work. Crews are building a platform outside the Wilson Building where the District of Columbia officials will be able to watch history as President Obama transitions into his second term.

Inaugurations are a big undertaking for D.C., so Council Chair Phil Mendelson held hearings because he wants to know plans are moving in the right direction.

“It’s important to know that the planning is being undertaken properly and thoroughly and also that the word is getting out,” he says.

There is concern about the city’s communication efforts with the public and the feds. Transportation is also a big deal. The city wants to avoid past mistakes, like in 2009 when people got stuck in the Third St. tunnel.

The director of the District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency assured the city it wouldn’t happen this time. He says a lot of that can be prevented.

“A plethora of signage. How do you get in certain areas? If you’re ticketed, where is your ticketed area? If you’re not, if you’re going to general admission, how do you get there? How do you get back out there?” asks Chris Geldart.

Early estimates show attendance will be between 600,000 and 800,000 people, down from 2009 when 1.8 million people attended. More locals from the Maryland and Virginia areas are expected to attend.

The numbers are based on hotel and bus reservations, but those numbers could change. In the meantime, the city is already repaving Pennsylvania Avenue so it can once again show off our nation’s capital.

President Obama will kick off the inaugural festivities with a national day of service on Jan. 19. Four past living presidents will serve as honorary co-chairs: Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Obama will take the oath of office in a private ceremony on Sunday, Jan. 20. The public swearing-in, along with a parade and inaugural balls, will take place the next day.