The highway departments in the D.C. region will suspend road work just in time for travelers to hit their escape routes for the Memorial Day weekend. But the nation’s capital will be anything but empty this weekend. Thousands will arrive for memorial events that include wreath layings, Rolling Thunder and parades. The getting around weather will be hot, with a chance of thunderstorms today and Saturday, the CapitalWeather Gang says. The Memorial Day temperature is likely to be in the 90s.
Here are some of the things travelers need to know to keep their cool.
Metro weekend delays
We’ve been telling you that the transit authority’s maintenance program has gotten much more aggressive, but this weekend's activities should convince any doubters. From 10 p.m. tonight through the midnight closing on Memorial Day, Metro will shut four D.C. rail stations on the Blue and Orange lines: Stadium-Armory, Capitol South, Eastern Market and Potomac Avenue.
There will be no rail service between Federal Center SW and Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road.
Rail service on the western side of the disruption, the Mall side will be as it normally is on weekends.Trains on the eastern side of the lines are scheduled to run 25 minutes apart.
The centerpiece of the long-planned rail work is the replacement of four track switches at the Eastern Market Station.
Jim Hughes, who is in charge of planning these big projects for Metro, said free shuttle buses should effectively bridge the gap between the open portions of the lines. In fact, the transit authority does have a lot of experience in dealing with such station closings, and also knows what to expect of the crowds going to and from most holiday weekend events.
But Stars & Stripes & Spokes, a four-day festival for motorcycle enthusiasts at RFK Stadium, is a new factor. Attendees won’t be able to use the nearby Stadium-Armory Station and will instead rely on the shuttle buses — when they’re not on their cycles.
The shuttles will stop at all the closed stations. But because of the logistics at Capitol South, the buses will stop a bit farther away from the station entrance. Look for them a block north, on Independence Avenue near First Street SE.
Red Line: Metro also plans some weekend maintenance that will require Red Line trains to share a track between Friendship Heights and Grosvenor from 10 tonight through Memorial Day.
They also will share a track at various locations between Judiciary Square and Takoma from 10 tonight through the midnight closing Sunday.
The worst hours to make your escape are probably going to be 1 to 8 p.m. today.
Northbound: For I-95 drivers, the toll plaza at Newark, Del., will again be a bottleneck. Delaware continues to build highway-speed E-ZPass lanes in the middle of the plaza. The anticipated completion date is Aug. 15. Transportation officials recommend motorists consider alternative routes or travel during hours with lower traffic volumes.
Northbound and southbound toll lanes have been reduced as part of the construction. This reduction affects the manual cash lanes and the dedicated E-ZPass lanes. In both directions, there will be four manned and two designated E-ZPass lanes in operation.
As you approach the toll plaza, tune your radio to WTMC-1380AM for traffic reports. Before starting your trip, check the Delaware Department of Transportation Web site for current traffic conditions.
Hatem (Route 40) Bridge: The Maryland Transportation Authority says the project to replace the Hatem Bridge deck is wrapping up. The bridge carries traffic over the Susquehanna River between Havre de Grace and Perryville. The eastbound single-lane closures were lifted earlier this month, and the westbound closures are scheduled to be lifted today.
Advice from David Buck, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration: Generally speaking the same Interstates that are congested every Friday are even more so the Friday before Memorial Day. However I-97 south toward Annapolis, Route 50 east toward the Bay Bridge, Route 404 toward Delaware, I-70 and I-68 toward Deep Creek and I-95 north toward Delaware tend to take the brunt of the extra traffic.
Eastbound: The best travel times for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge are today before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m., Saturday before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m., Sunday before 11 a.m. and after 10 p.m. and Memorial Day before 11 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
Southbound: The reversible lanes on I-95/395 in Northern Virginia will be open to all southbound drivers from 1 p.m. today until 2 p.m. Saturday, and to all northbound driver from 4 p.m. Saturday through the rest of the holiday weekend.
Closure for Rolling Thunder: The I-95/395 High Occupancy Vehicle lanes will be closed to regular traffic from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Sunday for the annual Thunder motorcycle rally.
HOV restrictions on Interstates 66, 95 and 395 will be lifted on Memorial Day.
Interstate 64 Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel: The Virginia Department of Transportation encourages drivers heading to Virginia Beach to use the I-664 Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel as an alternative to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. To Virginia Beach, take I-664 south to the Monitor-Merrimac. Then take the Portsmouth/Norfolk exit (exit 15A) to I-264 east to Virginia Beach.
Interstate 64 HOV lanes: On Memorial Day, HOV restrictions will be lifted on I-64. The reversible roadway will be open to all westbound traffic from 1 to 11 a.m. and then to all eastbound traffic from 1 to 11 p.m. HOV reversible lane directions may shift throughout the three-day weekend depending on road conditions and traffic volumes.
Travel to the Outer Banks, N.C.: Motorists should use Interstate 664 and the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel to save time. From I-664 south, take I-64 west to exit 292, Chesapeake Expressway/I-464/Route 17. Keep left to continue to the Chesapeake Expressway (Route 168), and take Nags Head/Great Bridge exit 291B to the Outer Banks.
Jamestown-Scotland Ferry: The summer schedule is in effect beginning Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
These are just a few highlights of the many events scheduled for the long weekend in the D.C. area.
Stars & Stripes & Spokes: Various activities are scheduled for Friday through Memorial Day on the RFK Stadium grounds. Admission is free for everyone, and parking is free for people on motorcycles. Expect traffic congestion on the approach roads to the stadium.
Rolling Thunder: The annual motorcyclists’ tribute to veterans will organize Sunday morning in the Pentagon parking lot and at noon will proceed to the District via the Memorial Bridge and Constitution Avenue for a gathering near the Reflecting Pool and Korean War Memorial. Expect street closings in the area and limited parking.
Memorial Day parade: Begins at 2 p.m. Monday at Seventh Street NW and proceeds west along Constitution Avenue to 17th Street NW.
Memorial Day wreath layings: World War II Memorial, 9 a.m. Monday; Air Force Memorial, 9 a.m. Monday; Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery, 11 a.m. Monday.
Washington Nationals: There’s baseball through the weekend at Nationals Park.