Major traffic congestion expected for Christmas tree lighting near White House

A traffic jam forms on the Interstate 66 Potomac Freeway through Foggy Bottom in D.C. during the 2015 National Christmas Tree Lighting. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
The 2015 National Christmas Tree Lighting caused traffic jams throughout D.C., including on the Interstate 66 Potomac Freeway through Foggy Bottom. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Gridlock spreads to streets as far north as K Street during the 2015 National Christmas Tree Lighting closures. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Gridlock spreads to streets as far north as K Street during the 2015 National Christmas Tree Lighting closures. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Many roads in downtown D.C. are clogged with traffic during the 2015 National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Many roads in downtown D.C. are clogged with traffic during the 2015 National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Visitors look at the National Christmas Tree with the Washington Monument in the background on the Ellipse near the White House, in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Visitors look at the National Christmas Tree with the Washington Monument in the background on the Ellipse near the White House, in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) (AP/Jose Luis Magana)
James Taylor, left, with his wife Caroline "Kim" Smedvig, Garth Brooks, and Tricia Yearwood perform during the lighting ceremony for the 2016 National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
James Taylor, left, with his wife Caroline “Kim” Smedvig, Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood perform during the lighting ceremony for the 2016 National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (AP/Alex Brandon)
Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama, Eva Longoria Baston
President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughter Sasha light the 2016 National Christmas Tree during the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Also on stage is the host Eva Longoria. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) (AP)
President Barack Obama, sings "Jingle Bells," with Santa Claus, James Taylor, Eva Longoria, and Garth Brooks during the lighting ceremony for the 2016 National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Barack Obama, sings “Jingle Bells,” with Santa Claus, James Taylor, Eva Longoria, and Garth Brooks during the lighting ceremony for the 2016 National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (AP/Alex Brandon)
Actress Reese Witherspoon, mother-in-law Marian Robinson, Malia Obama, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attend the national Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse south of the White House December 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. The lighting of the tree is an annual tradition attended by the president and the first family. (Photo by Olivier Douliery- Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — DECEMBER 02: Actress Reese Witherspoon, mother-in-law Marian Robinson, Malia Obama, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attend the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse south of the White House December 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. The lighting of the tree is an annual tradition attended by the president and the first family. (Photo by Olivier Douliery- Pool/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Pool)
First lady Michelle Obama and Miss Piggy read "The Night Before Christmas" to children on stage during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at the Ellipse in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
First lady Michelle Obama and Miss Piggy read “The Night Before Christmas” to children on stage during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at the Ellipse in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
With the Washington Monument at right, Hargrove technicians install lights on the National Christmas Tree, a large evergreen tree in the northeast quadrant of The Ellipse near the White House in this 2015 file photo.  (AP File Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
With the Washington Monument at right, Hargrove technicians install lights on the National Christmas Tree, a large evergreen tree in the northeast quadrant of The Ellipse near the White House in this 2015 file photo. (AP File Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (AP/Carolyn Kaster)
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A traffic jam forms on the Interstate 66 Potomac Freeway through Foggy Bottom in D.C. during the 2015 National Christmas Tree Lighting. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Gridlock spreads to streets as far north as K Street during the 2015 National Christmas Tree Lighting closures. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Many roads in downtown D.C. are clogged with traffic during the 2015 National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Visitors look at the National Christmas Tree with the Washington Monument in the background on the Ellipse near the White House, in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
James Taylor, left, with his wife Caroline "Kim" Smedvig, Garth Brooks, and Tricia Yearwood perform during the lighting ceremony for the 2016 National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama, Eva Longoria Baston
President Barack Obama, sings "Jingle Bells," with Santa Claus, James Taylor, Eva Longoria, and Garth Brooks during the lighting ceremony for the 2016 National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Actress Reese Witherspoon, mother-in-law Marian Robinson, Malia Obama, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attend the national Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse south of the White House December 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. The lighting of the tree is an annual tradition attended by the president and the first family. (Photo by Olivier Douliery- Pool/Getty Images)
First lady Michelle Obama and Miss Piggy read "The Night Before Christmas" to children on stage during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at the Ellipse in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
With the Washington Monument at right, Hargrove technicians install lights on the National Christmas Tree, a large evergreen tree in the northeast quadrant of The Ellipse near the White House in this 2015 file photo.  (AP File Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Get the latest traffic updates on the WTOP Traffic Center page.

WASHINGTON — The holly, jolly mood at the 95th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse will be surrounded by a white-knuckled chorus of honking and cursing Thursday as commuters are once again faced with the event’s security closures.

The ceremony is known for causing late afternoon and evening gridlock in downtown D.C. since it will occur during the workweek rush hour Nov. 30.

The law enforcement action plan hasn’t changed this year: 15th Street NW and 17th Street NW will be blocked on either side of the White House and Ellipse by early afternoon. The kicker comes when busy Constitution Avenue is closed to vehicle traffic between 14th Street NW and 18th Street NW around 2 p.m.

All of the roadblocks are scheduled to remain in place until 8 p.m. The traffic delays and gridlock are usually most intense and widespread between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“If we’re given the information as to what we need to avoid, then we can go for the routes that remain open,” said Bob Marbourg with the WTOP Traffic Center.

Many downtown commuters reach for the telework option on the day of the tree lighting. Office workers may otherwise want to hit the road early since it will likely end up being “a late rush hour for drivers just trying to get out of downtown,” Marbourg said.

And the closure of Constitution Avenue “puts a lot of extra volume on Independence Avenue,” he added.

The delays can ripple as far north as the West End and Dupont Circle to as far east as Capitol Hill. The Southeast/Southwest Freeway, Potomac Freeway and E Street Expressway are often much slower than normal during the ceremony.

A few Metrobus routes — including the 30N, 30S and 36 — will be detoured around the closures.

Several big acts will perform at Presidents Park before lighting, including Wynonna, the Beach Boys and the U.S. Navy Band. The ticket lottery for the ceremony took place in October.

The event will be televised on the Hallmark Channel on Dec. 4.

Below is a map and list of the closures:

From 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

  • 17th Street NW between Pennsylvania Ave and Constitution Ave NW
  • C Street NW between 17th Street and 18th Street NW
  • D Street NW between 17th Street and 18th Street NW
  • E Street NW between 17th Street and 18th Street NW
  • F Street NW between 17th Street and 18th Street NW
  • G Street NW between 17th Street and 18th Street NW
  • New York Avenue between 17th Street and 18th Street NW

From 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Constitution Ave NW between 18th Street and 14th Street NW
  • 15th Street between H Street NW and Madison Drive NW
  • 17th Street between Constitution Ave and Independence Ave SW
  • Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 14th Street and 15th Street NW
  • E Street NW between 14th Street and 15th Street NW
  • F Street NW between 14th Street and 15th Street NW
  • G Street NW between 14th Street and 15th Street NW
  • New York Avenue NW between 14th Street and 15th Street NW

This content was republished with permission from CNN.

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