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.
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.
Closures beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Closures beginning at 3 p.m. in Arlington
Closures beginning at 8:30 p.m. in Arlington
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:
George Washington Memorial Parkway Event Entrances:
View a map of the event access points here.
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.
On Saturday, the Nats’ Post-Game Concert Series kicks off with the husband-and- wife duo Thompson Square.
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:
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.
Metro: “10 things to know about taking Metro July 4″