Inauguration in DC: Widespread road, bridge closures; Metro service changes

street bridge closures
Street and bridge closures. (Courtesy U.S. Secret Service)
metro map inauguration 2021
Metro station closures. (Courtesy WMATA)
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WTOP’s Dave Dildine reports that the Key Bridge is taking the brunt of bailout from Tuesday’s bridge closures. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Capitol police walk past a poster seeking information on individuals who attacked the Capitol building, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington. Security n been heightened ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Capitol police walk past a poster seeking information on individuals who attacked the Capitol building, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington. Security n been heightened ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Advice for travel for the inauguration. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
street bridge closures
metro map inauguration 2021
road closure
Capitol police walk past a poster seeking information on individuals who attacked the Capitol building, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington. Security n been heightened ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Widespread bridge, road and Metro closures are making it difficult, if not impossible, to travel through parts of D.C. ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration.

The 3rd Street Tunnel is now open between the freeway and New York Avenue. It had been closed earlier Wednesday.

In the wake of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol and threats of violence, there has been an “unprecedented” ramp-up in security in the District for Wednesday’s presidential event.

Multiple bridges into D.C. are closed to inbound traffic until Thursday morning, adding to an already extensive list of road closures and mass transit changes. The District also shut down 13 Metro stations.

Bridge closures

Police planned to stop inbound traffic on multiple bridges across the Potomac and Anacostia rivers before dawn Tuesday. As of 10 a.m. the following bridges were closed:

  • Arlington Memorial Bridge (closed in both directions)
  • Interstate 66/Theodore Roosevelt Bridge
  • Interstate 395/14th Street Bridge

According to D.C. police, the following bridges will have commercial vehicle restrictions until 6 a.m. Thursday, but remain open to local vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists:

  • South Capitol Street/Frederick Douglas Memorial Bridge – North bound lanes will have commercial vehicle restrictions but remain open to local traffic. South bound traffic will flow normally, toward Maryland.
  • 11th Street Bridge – Travel lanes into the Navy Yard area will have commercial vehicle restrictions but remain open to local traffic.
  • John Phillip Sousa (Pennsylvania Ave.) Bridge – Travel lanes west toward downtown will have commercial vehicle restrictions but open to local traffic. South bound traffic will flow normally, toward Maryland.
  • Key Bridge – will remain open, but access to Whitehurst Freeway will be closed. Traffic from the Key Bridge will make a left turn onto Canal Rd/MacArthur Blvd and local traffic may go right on M Street. East bound on M Street will have commercial vehicle restrictions.

With the bridges shut down, WTOP Traffic reporter Dave Dildine noted a bottleneck formed on the Georgetown-bound Key Bridge — one of two remaining Potomac bridge crossings until Thursday, along with the Chain Bridge farther north.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and congressional Democrats said they had an agreement with U.S. Secret Service that authorized Virginia State Police to help with bridge closures spanning the Potomac River during the Jan. 20 inauguration.

“The 2021 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history,” read Friday’s joint statement. “It is very important now that the U.S. Secret Service and its partner agencies communicate road and bridge closures swiftly and clearly in order to keep disruptions to a minimum.”

WTOP Traffic reporter Dave Dildine said the bridge closures at the Potomac River alone would normally disrupt an estimated 800,000 trips — though, he added, that number is based on usual traffic patterns. He said drivers are already making plans for telework or alternate routes due to the advance notice.

Occasionally, D.C. and Virginia police have held up traffic up to Key Bridge for July Fourth fireworks, but “nothing like what’s planned for this inauguration,” Dildine said.

To accommodate those bridge closures, authorities are diverting northbound traffic from I-395 onto the George Washington Parkway, despite the commercial traffic restrictions. Eastbound traffic on I-66 is diverting to Route 110. Traffic on the I-395 Express Lanes heading northbound is diverting to the mainlines near Edsall Road.

The following bridges will remain open:

  • Chain Bridge — Open to all traffic
  • East Capitol Street — Open to all traffic
  • Benning Road — Open to all traffic
  • New York Avenue — Open to all traffic

Street closures

Security measures were ramped up early in part due to warnings about pre-inauguration demonstrations in both downtown D.C. and state capitals across the U.S.

The National Special Security Event — which involves tens of thousands of National Guard troops and federal law enforcement personnel — began last Wednesday, meaning many businesses around the Capitol and White House will be inaccessible.

Many federal agencies are requiring nonessential workers to telework.

From now through Thursday, travel will be restricted or impossible on:

  • Constitution Avenue between 23rd Street NW and 3rd Street NE
  • Independence Avenue between 23rd Street SW and 3rd Street SE
  • Maine Avenue between Independence Avenue SW and 7th Street SW
  • Rock Creek Parkway between Virginia Avenue NW and Ohio Drive SW
  • Massachusetts Avenue between 2nd Street NW and 3rd Street NE including Columbus Circle
  • Washington Avenue SW from Independence Avenue SW to E Street SW
  • K Street NW between Washington Circle and Mount Vernon Square
  • 9th Street Tunnel
  • 12th Street Tunnel
  • All numbered streets west of 7th Street between the Southeast/Southwest Freeway and K Street NW

From 6 a.m. Tuesday through 6 a.m. Thursday, travel will be restricted or impossible on:

  • I-695/I-395/Southeast-Southwest Freeway — Closed to all traffic
  • I-395/14th Street Bridges — Closed to all traffic
  • I-395/14th Street Bridge Express Lanes — Closed to all traffic
  • I-66/Theodore Roosevelt Bridge — Closed to inbound traffic
  • Memorial Bridge — Closed to all traffic
  • Whitehurst Freeway — Closed to inbound traffic
  • South Capitol Street Bridge — Closed to inbound traffic
  • I-695/11th Street Bridges — Closed to inbound traffic
  • Sousa Bridge — Closed to inbound traffic
  • 3rd Street Tunnel — Closed to all traffic
  • E Street Tunnel — Closed to all traffic

“Essential employees who normally cross these bridges to access their place of employment are encouraged to seek access to Washington from the east via 295 North at E. Capitol St., Benning Rd. or New York Ave. (Route 50),” the Secret Service said.


On Inauguration Day, Metro said bus and rail service will be suspended to the Pentagon. That means Pentagon station is closed Wednesday.

Blue and Yellow Line trains will still run, but they’ll pass through the station without stopping. The Pentagon Transit Center, served by six Metrobus lines, will also be closed.

Buses will be relocated to Pentagon City, on the east side of Hayes and 12th streets S., for the day.

Earlier, Metro also announced a number of changes to its service for the expanded National Special Security Event period.

Through Thursday, Jan. 21, 13 stations are closed inside the security perimeter. Trains will pass through the closed stations without stopping.

Trains will operate on a Saturday schedule, with Red Line trains running one train every 12 minutes, and all other lines running every 15 minutes.

“We are working closely with our regional and federal partners to keep the public safe during this National Special Security Event and to discourage travel within the secure zone,” said Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld. “While we are supporting law enforcement plans to enhance security, we are also keeping essential services in place for our residents who need to get to work, to medical appointments, and to grocery stores.”

These stations are closed:

  • Pentagon
  • Farragut North
  • Judiciary Square
  • Union Station
  • Archives
  • Arlington Cemetery
  • Farragut West
  • McPherson Square
  • Federal Center SW
  • Capitol South
  • Smithsonian
  • Federal Triangle
  • Metro Center
  • Gallery Place

There will be 26 bus lines detoured around the security perimeter.

Buses will operate on a normal schedule on weekdays and weekends, except on Inauguration Day, when they will operate on a Saturday schedule.

MARC Train

MARC Train suspended all service on the Penn, Camden and Brunswick lines through Wednesday. Regular service on all three lines will resume on Thursday.

Riders are encouraged to download the Transit app, follow MTA Maryland on Twitter or check out the service alerts webpage for additional updates.


Virginia Railway Express trains are not operating through Wednesday. VRE plans to resume “S” schedule service plus Fredericksburg Line trains 300 and 307 on Thursday.

Amtrak says there are special vehicle traffic patterns around Union Station in D.C. that will extra time to get to the station. Also, there is limited access to taxi and ride-share services.

Since Metro is not stopping at Union Station, the closest open station is NOMA/Gallaudet.

Amtrak is curtailing some service.

DC Circulator

The District Department of Transportation is modifying Circulator service on several routes due to closures implemented by the Secret Service. Changes are as follows:

  • National Mall (NM) route: Stopped until Jan. 25 at 5 a.m.
  • Rosslyn — Dupont Circle (RSDP) route: Stopped from Jan. 19 through Jan. 21
  • Georgetown — Union Station (GTUS) route: Western portion of the route replaced with a shuttle through Jan. 21. Shuttle service beings at 34th St. NW and Wisconsin Ave. NW, traveling to Pennsylvania Ave. NW and 24th St. NW. Buses loop back at Washington Circle.
  • Woodley Park (WP) route: No downtown service. Operating normal stops on P St. NW and 14th St. NW. Buses turn around at Thomas Circle; the following stops will not be serviced through Jan. 21: 13th St. NW at K St. NW; 14th St. NW at I St. NW; and 14th St. NW at K St. NW
  • Congress Heights (CHUS) route: Running shuttle service on all stops between the Congress Heights Metro station to the Anacostia Metro station.
  • Eastern Market — L’Enfant Plaza (EMLP) route: Detouring around L’Enfant Plaza. Final stop for the route is on M St. SW at 7th St. SW.

WTOP’s Will Vitka, Alejandro Alvarez, Dave Dildine and Jack Moore contributed to this report.

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