WASHINGTON — The last planned “America’s 9/11 Ride” is set to cause major traffic disruptions during the Friday, Aug. 19 afternoon commute.
Ted Sujurseth, who plans the ride, has said in emails to state police and area transportation officials that he expects this to be the final year the annual motorcycle ride will use police escorts. Those emails and related meetings have turned contentious at times over the resources needed to support the large ride, the route that would have the least impact on commuters, and the amount of notice the group gave to government officials.
The annual event commemorates the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks along with the first responders who were killed that day and since.
Riders are expected to leave the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania on Friday morning and arrive in Hagerstown, Maryland, by 11 a.m.
When riders leave Hagerstown, which is scheduled to be around 1 p.m., they plan to take Interstate 70 to U.S. Route 15 south to Leesburg before getting on the Dulles Greenway, then the Dulles Toll Road to Interstate 66 and eventually Route 110 in Arlington County.
This year’s route marks a change from previous rides. In 2002, 2003 and 2004 riders traveled on Interstate 270 and around the Capital Beltway.
When the riders reach the Dulles Connector Road, Virginia State Police plan to close entrance ramps to I-66 eastbound inside of the Beltway, and divert traffic exiting the Beltway onto Route 7 in Falls Church.
In Maryland, the State Highway Administration will not close any lanes or exits during the ride, but will have emergency patrols with the riders in an effort to keep traffic moving. Drivers are supposed to be able to move between the motorcycles to exit or enter the highways in Maryland.
The itinerary calls for riders to arrive in Crystal City just before 4 p.m. However, the Virginia Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority warn that delays from Leesburg and Dulles International Airport to the Pentagon could be as long as 90 minutes any time between 2 and 6 p.m., depending on whether the riders are on schedule.
Ride planner Sujurseth has said he expects up to 1,500 motorcycles and other vehicles to participate.
In the past, drivers caught unaware of the ride have been stuck on entrance ramps as the riders rolled by them.
VDOT warns of rolling delays from 2 to 6 p.m. on:
- Route 15 south to Leesburg
- Route 7 bypass
- Dulles Greenway
- Dulles Toll Road (ramp closures from Route 28 onto eastbound Dulles Toll Road)
- Dulles Connector Road
- I-66 (ramp closures from I-495, Sycamore Street, N Glebe Road, Lee Highway, and N Lynn Street)
- Route 110 to the Pentagon
“Drivers are advised to use alternate routes and expect heavier than normal traffic on local roads,” VDOT said in an advisory.
The airports authority, which operates the Dulles Toll Road, said closures will limit access between Route 28 and the Dulles Toll Road, and between the Dulles Access Highway’s local exits between the airport and Route 7:
- Eastbound traffic leaving Dulles International Airport will have unimpeded access to the eastbound Dulles Airport Access Highway (all the way to I-495 and I-66) and Route 28 north and south, but not to the eastbound Dulles Toll Road. Access highway traffic will share the road with the motorcycle procession east of Hunter Mill Road.
- Local exits before Route 7 in Tysons will not be available from the access highway. Route 28 or Route 7 are the recommended alternates.
- Traffic on Route 28 will not be able to exit to the eastbound Dulles Toll Road. Ramps to Dulles Airport and the Dulles Greenway will remain open.
- Eastbound Traffic from the Dulles Greenway will merge to one lane to join the eastbound Dulles Toll Road. The motorcycle procession will occupy the closed lane.
- The eastbound Dulles Toll Road will be divided in the center by cones. The two left lanes will be reserved for the motorcycle procession, while the two right lanes will be for local traffic.
- All westbound lanes and ramps of the Dulles Access Highway and Dulles Toll Road will operate normally.
The airports authority expects the motorcycles to use the Dulles Toll Road for several miles from the Dulles Greenway before moving into the Dulles Access Highway to continue the trip to I-66.
“All eastbound traffic in the Dulles corridor should plan extra travel time and expect delays,” the authority said.
On Saturday morning, a smaller group of riders are scheduled to leave the Pentagon at 6:45 a.m. to head to New York City.
This group of riders is typically much smaller than the group that rides from Pennsylvania to the Pentagon.
The riders plan to travel up Interstate 95 through Maryland to visit the World Trade Center site on Sunday.
The group expects to be north of Baltimore by 9 a.m., and into Delaware before 11 a.m.