D.C. heats up in anticipation for Tuesday

WASHINGTON, D.C. âÄî As the hours until inauguration quickly vanish, the atmosphere in the district is a mixture of fervent excitement and underlying apprehension. Thousands continue to pile into the capitalâÄôs limits, augmenting the city population from the standard 580,000 to much higher. Estimates of the surge of people vary from a million to as much as 4 million for the new presidentâÄôs Jan. 20 speech. Steven Taubenkibel , a spokesman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority , said aside from a few train delays Sunday, overloading and tardiness have not been large problems so far. However, public transportation is bracing itself for the worst as Tuesday approaches, and overcrowded metro stations as well as sluggish transportation could be a problem for many commuters. Yet the mood in D.C. for the most part remains united and euphoric; for Washingtonians it is their time to shine. In spite of the presidentâÄôs gentle message to remain home for the sake of safety, and with the forecast of freezing temperatures to boot, the Capitol steps will still most likely see record numbers for the inaugural speech. The estimated size of BushâÄôs 2001 inauguration was a slim 300,000; Clinton in 1993 at 800,000. It is likely, however, that ObamaâÄôs gathering will overcome the current record estimate âÄî 1.2 million for the Johnson inauguration in 1965. Johnny Barr, a bartender at a popular 24-hour restaurant in town known simply as The Diner , said business has been non-stop since late Friday afternoon. âÄúItâÄôs getting pretty crazy, there are definitely a lot of people and theyâÄôre still coming,âÄù he said. âÄúI am leaving the city for a few days to avoid the chaos.âÄù With massive gatherings come massive security procedures, and D.C. has been declared a state of emergency. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the Associated Press that ObamaâÄôs âÄúwill be the most security, as far as IâÄôm aware, that any inaugurationâÄôs had.âÄù So, in addition to record setting crowds and numbers of bridges being closed, the Obama swearing-in will have the highest security in history. The throngs of people descending upon the capital for the parade and speech Tuesday will be met by precautions ranging from thousands of extra police and plain clothed officers to expertly trained counter-snipers, magnetometers and bomb sniffing dogs. A large bulletproof cube has also been erected around the podium.