Drivers in the D.C. area Monday afternoon faced “extreme” delays heading into the District amid a demonstration related to a trucker convoy. And it could go on for the next several days. Here’s what you need to know.
The traffic meltdown Monday stemmed from the trucker convoy. It spread out and moved through the District on interstates 395, 695 and 295 — eastbound on the Southeast/Southwest Freeway from the 14th Street Bridge to the 11th Street Bridge — as well as traffic control operations that blocked exits to keep traffic flowing.
Chris Rodriguez, the director of D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said the plan is to continue to block the offramps so the convoy would move through the District and head back to Hagerstown, Maryland, where they have been congregating since last week.
“We have to assume it’s going to continue at least for the next several days,” Rodriguez said, but added that the number of trucks and vehicles in the group has decline significantly.
On Monday, D.C. police blocked all eastbound offramps on the freeway, including 14th Street SW, the 12th Street Expressway, the 3rd Street Tunnel, South Capitol Street and the ramp to northbound D.C. Route 295.
That meant that many drivers who were driving with the trucks — and those caught up in the convoy — could not easily exit the freeway.
“The traffic control for the truck convoy included closing every single ramp on the eastbound freeway for more than two hours,” WTOP traffic reporter Dave Dildine said.
“There were no eastbound exits available and eastbound drivers, whether in the group or not, were sent all the way across the Anacostia River southbound on I-295 way down past [Joint Base Anacostia] Bolling toward the sewage treatment plant at Blue Plains,” Dildine said. “In the process, many desperate drivers there tried to turn around on a muddy median strip on I-295 and got stuck. Everyone else incurred excruciating delays.”
By shortly after 4 p.m., all ramps had reopened
FINAL: Trucker Convoy (Tail) is exiting Southbound DC-295 from Blue Plains Dr., SW
🚗All Traffic Closures have been lifted along DC-395/695 & DC-295
— DC Police Traffic (@DCPoliceTraffic) March 14, 2022
Rodriguez said D.C. is fully invested in minimizing the impact of the convoy. He described the situation as “unpredictable and fluid,” saying they need to be flexible in their response.
“The challenge with the convoy is that they are highly decentralized and disorganized,” Rodriguez said.
Police said the trucks involved in the demonstration were part of the trucker convoy gathered in Hagerstown.
The protesters, separated intermittently by the congested traffic, waved flags and blew their horns as they drove. When asked why they had come to protest, one unidentified couple with Montana license plates answered “freedom.”
Last week, the “People’s Convoy,” a group of truckers and supporters, circled the Capital Beltway twice on Sunday and again on Monday, but didn’t cause major disruptions.
The convoy, which is inspired by similar efforts in Canada, are protesting COVID-19 mandates, although most restrictions have already lifted, along with various other issues.
The convoy began in California and converged in Hagerstown last week. Organizers of the convoy met with Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Cruz joined them for a ride as they circled the D.C. area.
WTOP’s Dick Uliano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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