Office of Operations Freight Management and Operations

Urban Freight Case Studies - Washington, DC

Transportation Operations and Parking Plan

The District is home to the Washington Convention Center, a state-of-the-art facility that opened in 2003 in downtown Washington, DC, that opened in 2003. As described in the Transportation Operations and Parking Plan, the Center has a total floor area of approximately 2.3 million square feet, covering six city blocks on 17 acres, and is the largest building in Washington. Its size allows the simultaneous setup and breakdown of one convention while another one is being held. The Center can hold conventions on consecutive days, and thus produce steady transportation activity from week to week. Not surprisingly, the efficient management of truck activities such as loading, unloading, storage, and security, without negatively affecting neighboring streets, is critical to the successful operation of the Convention Center.

Truck Operations

The Center has 72 truck loading docks, space to park up to 36 trucks along internal lay-by lanes and ramps, and capacity to store approximately 70 trucks in exhibit halls when not in use. Nearly 180 trucks can be stored within the building.

The greatest truck activity, 100 to 140 trucks per day, occurs about 12 days per year. This level of truck activity can be accommodated within the Center by staging truck arrivals and departures throughout the day and utilizing the building's large storage capacity. The Convention Center also has an agreement with RFK Stadium to permit truck marshalling activities at the Stadium on an as-needed and pay-per-use basis. This allows for efficient management of truck traffic without negatively affecting surrounding streets.

Truck operations in and around the Convention Center typically are expected to occur between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and are restricted to specific routes to prevent truck traffic in nearby residential neighborhoods (Figure 2). In addition, trucks are not permitted to park on surrounding streets, and all truck activity is expected to occur in the truck loading and unloading areas within the Convention Center itself. The Convention Center Transportation Manager provides this information to all contractors before an event.

Convention Center public safety personnel enforce truck restrictions on surrounding streets and they monitor truck activity near the Center and report any restricted truck activity to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Figure 2: Truck Circulation Plan and Prohibited Streets

Figure 2 illustrates the specific routes trucks operating in an around the Washington Convention Center are required to used. The map illustrates the following inbound route: L Street to 9th Street,9th Street to M Street, and enter the facility from M Street.  The outbound truck route is M Street to 9th Street and 9th Street to either Mount Vernon Place or Massachusetts Avenue.   The figure also illustrates the streets that trucks are prohibited from using. The restricted streets are 6th Street, between L Street and M Street, and M Street between 6th Street and 10th Street.

Source: Washington Convention Center Authority, Washington Convention Center Transportation Operations and Parking Plan (Washington, DC: 2004), figure 8.1.


The WCCA Advisory Committee, whose members are appointed by the Mayor's Office, serves as a forum for sharing information on Center activities and discussing issues related to the needs of the neighboring community, parking, and transportation. Meetings typically are held once a month.

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