The cherry blossoms peaked last week, but the Cherry Blossom Festival just got underway on Sunday and many events are scheduled for this week and next. That includes the Blossom Kite Festival scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday on the Washington Monument grounds and Sunday’s 10 mile run, which will close some streets near the National Mall.
Because of the extra crowding during the Cherry Blossom Festival, Metro has temporarily suspended its midday and weekend track work programs.
Tourists will have a more pleasant experience — and give commuters a break — if they ride at off-peak times.
Also, visitors can buy a $9 Metrorail One-Day Pass, which is good for unlimited travel after 9:30 a.m. (Commuters, if you see a confused person feeding a paper card into the fare gate with no result, it may well be a tourist; the pass isn’t good till 9:30.)
Smithsonian is the Metro station right on the National Mall. But it’s jammed during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Try L’Enfant Plaza, Federal Triangle or Foggy Bottom.
Try to avoid transferring from one Metro line to another. The transfer stations at Metro Center, L’Enfant Plaza and Gallery Place will be very crowded, and the transfer may save only a little walking time.
On the escalators, stand to the right and walk on the left side. On the trains, be careful of the doors. They are easily busted when people lean against them, or try to hold them open.
Many riders have complained lately about the doors closing too quickly at the downtown stations, even before riders have a chance to get off.
Either the Wizards or the Capitals are playing at Verizon Center every night this week except Wednesday and Thursday, so expect crowding around the center and the Gallery Place station.
Buses in Mall area
The D.C. Circulators, the distinctive red, black and silver buses with the $1 fares, help tourists get around, but several routes have changed. The District dropped the Convention Center-Waterfront route. Metrobus Route 74 covers much the same ground, for a higher fare. It’s $1.50 with a SmarTrip card and $1.75 with cash.
The Georgetown-Union Station and Union Station-Navy Yard routes no longer stop inside the Union Station garage. Look for them now on the east side of Columbus Circle, which is in front of the station. On April 1, the Union Station-Navy Yard route will extend its evening hours to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
Tourmobile is gone. A new bus service operated by ANC Tours has begun running on a loop connecting the Union Station bus garage with the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Smithsonian Metro station for $5 per boarding. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Bay Bridge closings
The westbound span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge may be closed from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday and Tuesday nights and from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. Saturday night. Workers will be installing scaffolding around the bridge’s suspension towers for a painting project.
These overnight closings on the westbound span will continue for six to eight weeks. During those times, traffic will be two-way on the eastbound span.
Also watch for paving and line striping near the toll plaza from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night through Thursday.
O Street SE closing
As part of the 11th Street Bridge project, the District Department of Transportation will temporarily close O Street SE between 11th and 12th streets starting at 9:30 a.m. today and continuing through 6:30 a.m. April 15. A sidewalk will be open at all times on one side of O Street.
Drivers who want to reach O Street east of 12th Street SE will be directed to M Street, then to Water Street.
Arlington Boulevard interchanges
The Virginia Department of Transportation has imposed several closings as part of the reconstruction of the Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) interchanges at Courthouse Road and 10th Street. These closings will continue till the project is near completion in fall 2013.
The bridge from southbound 10th Street to eastbound Arlington Boulevard is closed. Drivers can use Washington Boulevard to North Pershing Drive back to Arlington Boulevard as a detour. The ramp from westbound Arlington Boulevard to North Fairfax Drive between Courthouse Road and 10th Street is also closed. Use 10th Street as a detour.
Finally, Fairfax Drive between Scott Street and Courthouse Road is closed. Scott, Taft and Troy streets will remain open. Drivers won’t be able to make left turns from Courthouse Road to Fairfax Drive.
Starting this coming weekend, the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride garage on Sunrise Valley Drive by the Dulles Toll Road in Herndon will undergo repairs and maintenance that will continue until the end of August.
During each of the project’s four phases, about 450 of the garage’s 1,745 parking spaces will be unavailable. Each of the three stairwells will be closed at some point during construction, but only one will be closed at a time.
Alternative parking: Reston South Park and Ride, 2531 Reston Pkwy.; Sunset Hills Park and Ride, 12050 Sunset Hills Rd.
D.C. bridge repairs
Through the end of April, the District Department of Transportation will be working on the Michigan Avenue bridge over Park Place NW, the South Capitol Street Bridge over Suitland Parkway and the Southern Avenue bridge over Suitland Parkway.
The work, to be done between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., will require single-lane closings.
While a single lane is closed on the Michigan Avenue bridge, a single lane also will be closed on Park Place under the bridge.
While a single lane is closed on the South Capitol Street Bridge, a single lane also will be closed on Suitland Parkway under the bridge.
Anacostia Drive closing
The National Park Service plans to close Anacostia Drive SE between Good Hope Road SE and the South Capitol Street off-ramps from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night through Friday. Workers will be repaving Anacostia Drive.
Cherry blossom run on Sunday
Metrorail will open at 5 a.m. Sunday for people traveling to the Cherry Blossom 10-mile Run.
The race staging area is on the Washington Monument grounds. The 10 mile run starts and finishes on 15th Street at Jefferson Drive. (Start times are 7:20 and 7:30 a.m.) See a pdf map of the course.
The 5K Run-Walk starts and finishes on Independence Avenue about 200 yards west of the intersection of 15th and Independence Avenue. See a pdf map of the course. The start time is 8:40 a.m.
2 to 11:30 a.m.: 15th Street between Constitution and Independence avenues.
5 to 10:30 a.m.: Independence Avenue SW between 14th and 23rd streets; Ohio Drive, 23rd Street to Virginia Avenue; Ohio Drive in East and West Potomac Parks; Memorial Bridge, along with Arlington Memorial Circle and Lincoln Memorial Circle; 23rd Street, Constitution Avenue to Lincoln Memorial Circle; 17th Street, Constitution Avenue to Independence Avenue; Raoul Wallenberg Place SW, Maine to Independence avenues; Daniel French Drive SW; Parkway Drive NW; Maine Avenue SW, 12th to 15th Street, where all traffic will be diverted to southbound Interstate 395. See a pdf map of the street closings.
With all those closings and with Metrorail opening two hours early, take the Blue or Orange lines to Smithsonian station and exit via the National Mall side.
Smithsonian can be crowded for big events like this, so if you’re up for a bit more walking, use L’Enfant Plaza on the Green, Yellow, Blue and Orange lines, or Metro Center on the Red, Blue and Orange lines.