Presidential motorcade fuels rush hour traffic delays in DC area

President Biden’s motorcade from the White House to and from a campaign reception in Bethesda, Maryland, fueled major traffic delays during Tuesday evening’s rush-hour in the D.C. area.

As of 6:30 p.m., the Capital Beltway’s Outer Loop had reopened between River Road and the American Legion bridge after ramps were blocked earlier to empty the interstate of traffic in preparation for Biden’s return to the White House, according to WTOP traffic reporter Dave Dildine.

“Outer loop traffic is beginning to move slowly around the ‘big curve’ and southbound on the I-270 spur,” Dildine said, adding that traffic remains packed between Arlington Boulevard and the Legion Bridge.

The George Washington Parkway was blocked between the Beltway and Roosevelt Bridge, according to Dildine, with no traffic getting by.

Adding insult to the injury during the extensive motorcade-related closures, a “major traffic tangle in Georgetown,” Dildine said. “A broken down truck at the beginning of the Key Bridge is absolutely snarling traffic on the grid in Georgetown, and leading to very lengthy backups,” he said.

Some drivers in Virginia stuck in place for an hour

The most recent round of temporary Beltway closures on the Outer Loop came after the Inner Loop was drained of all traffic between Georgetown Pike and River Road earlier in the evening in preparation for Biden’s arrival to the campaign reception.

That caused major delays for some drivers on the Beltway in Virginia who remained at a standstill for up to an hour, Dildine said.

This was a longer stoppage than last week, but not as long as with June’s motorcade, though “perhaps no less frustrating,” Dildine said, adding that blindsided rush hour drivers were observed driving the wrong way on ramps in an attempt to get themselves off the Beltway.

Traffic holds began to develop around 3:40 p.m., when the president’s public schedule listed him as departing the White House.

Whenever a large motorcade dips onto the suburban highways, the traffic impacts tend to be more pronounced, Dildine said, adding that any traffic queues must be cleared in advance.

“Like the weather, traffic control for motorcades is only a best guess,” Dildine said. “There is no way to know exactly when and where it will move, or by what means.”

“In the past, state police have elected to hold traffic on the Beltway for lengthy periods of time. Earlier this year, a traffic stoppage on the Inner Loop lasted over an hour,” Dildine said.

He also said Secret Service doesn’t discuss their methods to “maintain operational security,” and that local and state police follow the protective agency’s lead.

“Although the Traffic Center’s concern is helping area drivers, we can’t make assumptions about the motorcade’s movement or risk compromising a Secret Service operation,” Dildine emphasized.

Dana Sukontarak

Dana Sukontarak is a Digital Writer/Editor for She loves haiku poetry, short sci-fi stories and word games. She grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and currently lives in Silver Spring.

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