Reagan National traffic jams likely to start March 21; airport adds free parking

WASHINGTON – Starting next week, major lane closures will likely cause significant delays at Reagan National Airport. The bright side? With them will come temporary, limited free parking in airport garages.

Weather permitting, the two left lanes of the general roadway in front of Terminal B/C will close starting Wednesday, March 21, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said. The closure is expected to last about a month before the work zone shifts.

The closures, which will last for the next year or so, are part of the construction of new security checkpoint areas above the roadway between the Metro tracks and the existing terminal. Major construction impacts on the airport’s roads are expected to last until the new building supports are in place and the 50,000-square-foot structures are fully enclosed next year. The new checkpoints are scheduled to open in 2020.

Starting Wednesday, the airports authority will allow free parking in Reagan National’s garages for up to 60 minutes in an effort to move some pickups and waiting drivers out of the regular traffic lanes. After 60 minutes, the regular rate of $6 per hour will apply.

The airport also suggests using Metro to reach the airport when track work and service hours allow for it.

Where the lanes are closed, airport police will block off parts of the median to prevent drivers from picking people up across from the closures, since those lanes will be the only way for traffic to continue moving through. Speed limits are also being lowered to 15 mph.

During the busiest times, including around Easter weekend, traffic backups could stretch around much of the airport’s roadways, potentially even onto the George Washington Parkway.

Travelers are being urged to add lots of extra time to avoid missing a flight. Drivers can also consider using the upper-level roadway (labeled as Ticketing/Check-In for Terminals B/C) to avoid some of the backups, but that would not necessarily guarantee a faster trip.

Uber, Lyft and shuttle buses have already been shifted to the upper level.

Taxis will continue to use the lower-level roadway closest to the terminal.

Mary DePompa

WTOP Traffic Reporter, Mary de Pompa has a great understanding of the D.C.-area gridlock, being a third-generation Washingtonian. If you see more than she says, call Mary on the WTOP Traffic Hotline at 202-895-5048 or email her at

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