Weekend Wakeup: This weekend, just avoid driving downtown

WASHINGTON — Expect crowded crosswalks, closed streets, and congestion downtown on Saturday for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Metro will accommodate expected crowds by keeping track work at a minimum.

In addition to congestion on the inbound roads, there are several major construction projects set to take place this weekend. New York Avenue will be closed in Northeast; Interstate 95 will be closed for overnight work in Virginia; and the Route 29 interchange project in Gainesville will reach a major milestone.

50th Anniversary of March on Washington

The Realize the Dream March, Rally, Global Freedom Festival and the “Let Freedom Ring” commemoration will cause delays and crowded conditions downtown on Saturday.

The National Park Service will block the Memorial Bridge between Memorial Circle and the Lincoln Memorial beginning at 6 a.m. Park police say they will keep access to Arlington Memorial Cemetery open by way of Route 110. Memorial Circle, they say, will be kept open from Washington Boulevard and the George Washington Parkway as long as foot traffic remains manageable.

Driving downtown will be difficult and in some cases impossible. As with any large event on the National Mall, the best way to get there is by taking Metro. Metro trains will be crowded, but WMATA says track work will be kept at minimum, delaying only customers departing Franconia-Springfield. Buying a fare card in advance may save you some time. The best stations for the day’s events: Farragut North, Farragut West, Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery for a scenic walk toward the Lincoln Memorial.

The day’s events will close streets on the south side of the National Mall between the Potomac River and Maine Avenue to the east of the Tidal Basin. The streets and parking areas near West Potomac Park and the Jefferson Memorial will also be closed.

Constitution Avenue is expected to remain open but will likely be slow as Independence Avenue will be closed for the march itself.

All Potomac River bridges will remain open except for the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

For more on the 50th Anniversary March on Washington click here.

Interstate 95 Express Lanes

Heavy work this weekend will close the southbound lanes on I-95 Friday between Springfield and Newington, Va.

Michelle Holland, spokesperson for VA MegaProjects, says to expect delays late Friday.

“We are continuing to work steadily on the 95 Express Lanes. Tonight we’re lifting a large steel girder that’s going to support one of the flyover ramps that will be built to take traffic into the Express Lanes from I-95 south.”

All southbound lanes will be shut down overnight Friday to safely hoist this material over and across the mainline.

“We will be diverting long distance traffic, or “thru” traffic, into the Express Lanes just south of the Franconia-Springfield Parkway. Drivers are encouraged to get into the HOV lanes earlier to avoid the congestion, to build in extra travel time and to expect delays,” Holland says.

Crews plan to close one lane south of the Beltway (near mile marker 169) at 9:30 p.m., a second lane at 11 p.m. and all lanes at midnight. The full closure will be lifted by 6 a.m. and all lanes should be open by 9 a.m. Holland says the HOV lanes will be closed on Saturday and Sunday night, but she says that daytime closures of the facility will not take place.

“We will not have closures on the HOV lanes for the next two weekends due to the heavier end-of-summer travel.”

New traffic pattern in Gainesville

VDOT warns that motorists could encounter major delays in Gainesville this weekend. Beginning at 9 p.m. Friday through most of the weekend, only one lane in each direction will be open on Route 29 near Linton Hall Road as crews prepare to shift traffic onto the new, highly anticipated elevated bridge over the railroad tracks.

Motorists can avoid delays of up to an hour through Gainesville by using I-66 and Route 15.

In addition to the traffic switch, crews will be paving and striping various segments of the connection to the new overpass. Police will be on the scene to assist with traffic control.

Consider bypassing the work zone by using Route 15 through Haymarket.

New York Avenue closure

New York Avenue will be closed both ways beginning at 9 p.m. on Friday for continuing bridge work. Crews will also be erecting a large sculpture on the north side of the overpass.

No major track work on Metro

Metro will not perform any significant track work this weekend. Only customers departing the Franconia-Springfield station will face delays with trains running at 24 minute intervals. All Metro stations will remain open throughout the weekend.

Metrorail information direct from Metro:

  • Metrorail will open at 7 a.m. and close at 3 a.m.
  • Trains will operate on a regular Saturday schedule throughout the day.
  • The only scheduled track work will affect Franconia-Springfield Station, where trains will depart every 24 minutes, rather than every 12 minutes. The other 85 Metrorail stations will have normal service with no track work. Riders should consider using stations other than Franconia-Springfield. (Huntington or Van Dorn Street stations are good alternates for Franconia-Springfield.)
  • For the safety and comfort of all Metro passengers, standard-frame bicycles will not be permitted on Metrorail between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

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