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National Christmas Tree lighting expected to bring messy commute

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stand after lighting the 2017 National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse near the White House, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The police department corrected the time the closures will start. 

WASHINGTON — The excitement surrounding Wednesday afternoon’s National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse can be tempered by all of the commuters who will get stuck in traffic around it.

The 4:30 p.m. ceremony leads to road closures near the White House between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.

In past years, Loudoun County Commuter Buses have been delayed 10 to 45 minutes, the county warned riders. Sometimes, backups were even worse across areas of the city many blocks away from the closures, especially between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Taking Metro, working from home, or simply departing work later than usual are among the best ways to avoid major delays.

On Wednesday, 17th Street Northwest is scheduled to be closed between Pennsylvania Avenue and Constitution Avenue starting at noon. Beginning at 2 p.m., that closure extends across the National Mall to Independence Avenue Southwest.

Also starting at 2 p.m., 15th Street Northwest is scheduled to close between H Street Northwest and the National Mall, and Constitution Avenue Northwest is scheduled to close between 14th and 18th streets.

Closures and special street parking restrictions in the area are expected to be lifted around 8 p.m.

Model and actor Antonio Sabàto Jr. is hosting the 96th annual tree lighting. This year’s event features a number of country and Christian musicians as well as tenor Anthony Kearns.

During this tree lighting, the festivities focus on the permanent tree that grows outside the White House on the Ellipse. The first family has a separate tree inside the White House.

Tickets for this event have already been distributed through a lottery.

Below is a map and list of the closures:

From 1 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

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