Great getaway: How’s Memorial Day weekend traffic?

Traffic often moves slowly on the Capital Beltway near the American Legion Bridge. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Millions of people are hitting D.C.-area roads for the Memorial Day weekend, as the unofficial start of summer kicks off. And AAA Mid-Atlantic projects about 3 million of those traveling this weekend will do so by car.

Although most people who were intending to leave for out-of-state destinations are long gone, those heading into the District Friday evening will encounter some volume.

At 5:30 p.m., inbound on the 14th Street Bridge, the HOV span is shut down at the Pentagon due to a crash. D.C. police ask drivers to seek alternate routes.

DC Fire and EMS reported that while assisting with the crash on the bridge, three firefighters were struck. Two had minor injuries and one has a serious injuries that are not life-threatening.

In Upper Marlboro, Maryland, a vehicle fire shut down lanes on northbound Maryland state Route 4 before Woodyard Road. Only the left lane is getting by, according to the WTOP Traffic Center.

On Interstate 95 southbound toward Virginia, beyond Woodbridge, WTOP traffic reporter Bob Marbourg said that traffic is moving reasonably well, “Better than your average Friday.”

D.C.-area drivers are also sharing the road with thousands of Rolling Thunder participants on motorcycles. At least two crashes involving a motorcycle have been reported Friday on the George Washington Parkway and Interstate 66.

“Blessing of the Bikes” at the Washington National Cathedral in Northwest D.C. took place at 5 p.m. Friday.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Crystal City and Pentagon areas in Arlington, Virginia, will be a hub of activity as riders gather there before heading out to other locations in the D.C. area.

WTOP has the full list of road closures for the final Rolling Thunder in D.C.

Leaving when not many people are on the roads is key to minimize traffic hassle during the holiday weekend.

“Anything off-peak is better than the peak travel time. I know that doesn’t sound like the best advice, but it truly is,” said Lt. Colonel Kevin Anderson, chief of the operations bureau of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.

Drivers Seth Firestone and Brian Morris, both from Ashburn, Virginia, told WTOP’s John Domen on their way to Dewey that leaving early was key.

“Absolutely. You got to. We wanted to try and beat as much traffic as we could,” Morris said.

“Left at 6 a.m., woke up early. Just wanted to beat some traffic,” Firestone added.

Kyle Lewis, of Frederick, Maryland, is headed to Ocean City with his wife and kids. He echoed the sentiment that drivers need to leave early.

“Only way to do it,” he said.

Anderson recommends overnight hours, such as after 10 p.m. or in the morning hours between about 3 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Peak travel times on each major area road, according to a study conducted by INRIX and AAA. (Courtesy INRIX/AAA)

Area law enforcement will be stepping up patrols over the holiday weekend and are asking drivers not to drive distracted.

“We want you to get there safely,” Anderson said. “Have patience, take your time and always use your seat belt in every position in the car.”

Even riding in the back seat, Anderson said you have to buckle up: “It will save your life.”

Memorial Day weekend forecast

There won’t be anymore storms for a while but they’ll return by the end of the holiday weekend.

  • Friday night: Mostly clear. Cool and comfortable. Lows: Upper 50s (suburbs) to mid-60s (cities).
  • Saturday: Partly sunny. Seasonably warm but still comfortable. Highs: Upper 70s to low 80s.
  • Sunday: Increasing clouds. Warmer and becoming more humid. Scattered afternoon thunderstorms. Highs: Upper 80s to near 90.
  • Monday: Mostly cloudy. Warm and humid. An isolated thunderstorm is possible. Highs: Mid- to upper 80s.

WTOP’s Dave DIldine, John Domen and Kristi King contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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