WASHINGTON - Expect the mid-week holiday to alter traffic patterns throughout the region.
Area roads will be busy this week with a mix of vacationers traveling through town, event-goers traveling around town and locals going about their day-to-day business as usual. On Independence Day, a large influx of traffic into the city can be expected with numerous street closures on tap for the annual celebration on the National Mall.
For many in Washington, weekend plans are already afoot. AAA estimates that 46 percent of would-be travelers intend to begin their vacations prior to the Fourth of July holiday. The organization estimates that the bulk of the 34.4 million people who hit the roads for the holiday will depart on Wednesday.
Lighter than normal morning and afternoon rush hours are likely to continue through the end of the week. In place of two traditional rush hour periods, expect a gradual peak in traffic volumes around mid-afternoon. Friday and Saturday will likely be the easiest days to get around.
Motorists will see a reprieve from the routine road work through next week, including on Interstate 95 in Virginia.
Most vacationers will be heading home on Sunday. Volume delays are likely to form on Interstate 95 in Virginia and I-70 East and I-270 South in Maryland by late morning. In addition, westbound U.S. 50 on the Eastern Shore will likely be congested throughout the day as beach vacations draw to a close.
A Capitol Fourth
Expect one large rush hour late Thursday as thousands migrate into downtown Washington for the city's Independence Day celebration.
Numerous streets will be closed near the National Mall for the day's events. Some city streets will be blocked as early as 5 a.m. and many of the closures will last through 11 p.m. The Arlington Memorial Bridge will be closed from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Closures beginning at 6 a.m.
- 4th Street from Independence Avenue SW to Constitution Avenue
- 7th Street from Independence Avenue SW to Constitution Avenue
- 15th Street from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to Maine Avenue
- 17th Street from Independence Avenue to E Street NW
- 19th Street NW from C Street to Constitution Avenue
- 20th Street NW from C Street to Constitution Avenue
- 21st Street NW from C Street to Constitution Avenue
- 22nd Street NW from C Street to Constitution Avenue
- 23rd Street from Independence Avenue SW to C Street NW
- Virginia Avenue NW from 18th Street to 20th Street
- Constitution Avenue from 14th Street to 23rd Street
- Independence Avenue from 14th Street to 23rd Street
Closures beginning at 11:30 a.m.
- 14th Street from Independence Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue
- 3rd Street from Maryland Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue
- 9th Street Tunnel from Pennsylvania Avenue to the SE/SW Freeway
- 12th Street Tunnel from the SE/SW Freeway to Pennsylvania Avenue (scheduled to reopen at 3 p.m.)
Closures beginning at 3 p.m. in Arlington
- N. Meade Street from Marshall Drive to U.S. 50
- Marshall Drive from Route 110 to N. Meade Street
- Eastbound N. Fairfax Drive from N. Pierce Street to N. Fort Myer Drive
- Exit ramp from westbound U.S. 50 to N. Lynn Street (Rosslyn exit)
- Exit ramp from eastbound U.S. 50 to N. Meade Street (Rosslyn exit)
- Long Bridge Drive from Boundary Channel Drive to S. 10th Street
Closures beginning at 8:30 p.m. in Arlington
- Eastbound U.S. 50 at N. Pershing Drive
- Columbia Pike between S. Orme Street and S. Joyce Street
- S. Joyce Street from Army Navy Dr to Columbia Pike
The parade will run along Constitution Avenue from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Capitol Fourth Concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol begins at 8 p.m. The celebration concludes with the fireworks display near dusk.
Driving into and parking near the city will become increasingly difficult through the day. As dusk nears, a surge of inbound traffic normally swells toward the Potomac River bridges.
The George Washington Parkway, Interstate 395, Interstate 66 and Route 110 in Arlington normally slow to a crawl as the fireworks display begins. The Metropolitan Police Department says that any vehicles that stop on the bridges will be immediately ticketed and towed. In years past, police have stopped all traffic on I-395 at the 14th Street Bridge during the fireworks show.
Authorities strongly urge those who plan on attending to take public transportation. Metro expects more than 500,000 riders on July 4 and will provide extra rail service to downtown Washington. More on rail service can be found here.
A bike corral will be set up by Capital Bikeshare at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue in Northwest for riders using Bikeshare to get to the National Mall. The corral will be available from 12 p.m. until an hour after the fireworks on the Mall are over.
The National Park Service has set up entry points to gain access to the National Mall:
National Mall and Memorial Parks Event Entrances:
- West entrance, or George Washington Memorial Parkway side of Arlington Memorial Bridge;
- Constitution Avenue and Henry Bacon Drive, NW
- Constitution Avenue and 17th Street, NW
- Constitution Avenue and 15th Streets, NW
- West side of 14th Street, at Madison Drive NW
- West side of 14th Street, at Jefferson Drive, SW
- Maine Avenue and Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW (i.e. formerly 15th Street)
- East Basin Drive, SW, at Inlet Bridge
- East Basin Drive, SW, just south of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial (Access to Jefferson Memorial ONLY)
George Washington Memorial Parkway Event Entrances:
- U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial and Netherlands Carillon (no access to National Mall)
- Memorial Circle (access to National Mall via Arlington Memorial Bridge limited to pedestrians only)
- Columbia Island/Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove (no access to Potomac Riverfront or National Mall)
- Gravelly Point, north of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (no access to National Mall)
- Washington Sailing Marina at Daingerfield Island (no access to National Mall)
View a map of the event access points here.
Other Fireworks Displays on July 4th
Fireworks will draw crowds and light up the suburban skies near the following towns during the evening: Alexandria, Annapolis, Bowie, Germantown, College Park, Columbia, Fairfax, Falls Church, Frederick, Gaithersburg, Greenbelt, Kensington, Laurel, Leesburg, Manassas, McLean, Poolesville, Reston, Rockville, Takoma Park, Vienna, and Waldorf.
Expect congestion and stay alert for pedestrians near these fireworks displays. Follow the direction of local police when available.
Finally, travelers on Thursday evening who are within sight of a large fireworks show should stay extra alert for drivers who may be pulled over on the shoulders or roadside. Often, drivers will slow down to watch the displays in open areas and near clearings.
The Washington Nationals are home for the holiday weekend. The Nats will play the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game series lasting until Thursday and will host the San Diego Padres on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Expect crowds on the Southeast/Southwest Freeway and South Capitol Street before and after the games.
- Wednesday, July 5 vs. Brewers 6:05 p.m.
- Thursday, July 4 vs. Brewers 11:05 a.m.
- Friday, July 5 vs. Padres 7:05 p.m.
- Saturday, July 6 vs. Padres 4:05 p.m.
- Sunday, July 7 vs. Padres 1:35 p.m.
On Saturday, the Nats' Post-Game Concert Series kicks off with the husband-and- wife duo Thompson Square.
Other Holiday Road Changes
On Independence Day, the Rock Creek Parkway and Canal Road will run two-way all day long. The reversible lanes on Connecticut Avenue and 16th Street will remain in a non-rush hour orientation.
Rush hour parking restrictions will be lifted in the city. Parking at metered spots will be free on Thursday, except for in the area around Nationals Park.
Emergency No Parking signs will be in place on many streets downtown. Parking restrictions will be in effect from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the following routes:
- 3rd Street from Independence Avenue to Constitution Avenue
- 4th Street from Independence Avenue to Constitution Avenue
- 7th Street from Independence Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue
- 14th Street from Independence Avenue to Constitution Avenue
- 15th Street from Constitution Avenue to E Street NW
- 17th Street from Constitution Avenue to E Street NW
- Constitution Avenue NW from Pennsylvania Avenue to 23rd Street NW
- 10th Street NW between Constitution Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue
- 14th Street NW between Constitution Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue
- C Street NW from 17th Street to 18th Street
- Virginia Avenue NW from Constitution Avenue to 21st Street
Metro Track Work
Following the festivities on Independence Day, Metro gets down to business with weekend track work on the Blue and Orange lines. There is no work scheduled on the Red, Green and Yellow lines this weekend. The work begins at 10 p.m. Friday and lasts through late Sunday.
- Buses replace trains from Stadium-Armory to Cheverly
- Deanwood and Minnesota Avenue stations are closed
- Trains outside the work zone will run every 15 minutes
- Buses replace trains from Stadium-Armory to Benning Road
- All stations will remain open
- Trains outside the work zone will run every 15 minutes
Metro: "10 things to know about taking Metro July 4"
- Metrorail will open at 7 a.m. and close at midnight.
- Trains will operate on a Saturday schedule for most of the day, ramping up to
rush-hour service levels before and after the fireworks display. There is no
scheduled track work on July 4.
- Parking is free at all Metro-operated lots and garages.
- Off-peak rail fares will be in effect all day. To avoid lines, load enough
value on your SmarTrip or paper farecard for your entire round trip.
- Each trip taken with a paper farecard costs $1 more than those taken with a
SmarTrip card. SmarTrip cards are available at all Metrorail stations, as well as
local CVS, Giant and Safeway stores and Metro sales offices.
- We recommend planning your trip to a station on the same line as your starting
point to avoid congestion at transfer stations. All Metrorail lines have stations
within a short walk of the National Mall. Walk back to the same station at the
end of the event.
- Use stations other than Smithsonian or Federal Triangle. These two stations
often see the heaviest ridership (and largest crowds) for National Mall events.
Also note that Smithsonian Station will be "entry-only" at the conclusion of the
- See something? Say something! While there are no specific or credible threats
against Metro at this time, Metro Transit Police reminds riders to report any
unattended items or suspicious activity to the nearest uniformed employee, or call
Metro Transit Police at (202) 962-2121.
- Metrobus service will operate on a Sunday schedule. Buses that travel near the
National Mall may be subject to detours. Check wmata.com/alerts/bus for details.
- No bicycles or large coolers on Metrorail. For safety reasons--and to make room for everyone--we restrict these large items on July 4. Collapsable bicycles are permitted.
- Fourth of July entertainment guide: Music, fireworks and more
- Metro to run extra extra trains for fireworks in D.C.
© 2013 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.