Many travelers are launching their summer getaways, but others are just waiting to see some fireworks launched this July 4 holiday weekend. The forecast is pretty good, though a bit overheated, for the next four days, the Capital Weather Gang says. Here’s some key information for either the getaway or the staycation.
Highway traffic in the D.C. area is likely to surge from about 1 to 8 p.m. Friday. The best news for northbound drivers is that the four new highway-speed E-ZPass lanes on I-95 at the Delaware toll plaza will be open this weekend, a month ahead of schedule. Stay left if you want to use them. Stay right for the cash lanes. Everybody should get some relief from this, but be cautious, because drivers will be dealing with new signs and lane striping.
Highway departments suspend their scheduled road work for the holiday weekend, resuming on Tuesday.
I-95/395 reversible lanes:The lanes will be southbound from 1 p.m. Friday to 2 p.m. Saturday. They will be northbound from 4 p.m. Saturday through 7:30 p.m. Monday. Then they will be southbound from 9 p.m. Monday till 1 a.m. Tuesday, reopening northbound by 3 a.m.
To the Outer Banks: The Virginia Department of Transportation encourages drivers to use I-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.
[Staycation advice after the jump]
Now, some advice for those sticking around the D.C. area.
Metro weekend delays
Because of the holiday events, the maintenance scheduled is squeezed into Friday night and Saturday.
Red Line: From 10 p.m. Friday through closing time, trains will share a track between New York and Rhode Island avenues. Metro will be smoothing the rail surfaces and working on the bridge near Rhode Island Avenue.
From 7 a.m. to midnight Saturday, trains will share a track between Rhode Island Avenue and Fort Totten. From midnight until 3 a.m. Sunday, trains will share one track between Fort Totten and Takoma. Riders should add about 20 minutes of travel time during these work hours.
Orange and Blue lines: Starting at 10 p.m. Friday and continuing all day Saturday till the 3 a.m. closing Sunday, trains will share a track between Eastern Market and Stadium-Armory. Workers will be replacing rail fasteners. On Saturday, trains will leave the ends of the lines about every 20 minutes.
East Potomac Park
The National Park Service has closed East Potomac Park to all pedestrian and vehicular traffic from the golf course entrance on Ohio Drive south of Buckeye Drive to Buckeye Drive on the river side of Hains Point until Saturday. The park and roads will reopen when the preparations for the Independence Day celebration is complete.
July Fourth activities
Driving to an area near the National Mall or along the Potomac River will be difficult on Monday. Taking Metro is a much better, less stressful way to get to and from the celebrations.
Northern Virginia traffic: The Virginia Department of Transportation will adjust signal times at more than 100 intersections on major roads, including Routes 1, 7, 29, 50, 123, 236 and 244 to help move traffic into and out of the District. The reversible lanes on Interstate 95/395 will be northbound until 7:30 p.m., and southbound from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. The lanes will re-open northbound by 3 a.m. Tuesday.
Humpback Bridge project: The National Park Service says the north tunnel under the George Washington Parkway is now open to the public. Pedestrians who want to reach the Potomac River shoreline for the July 4 fireworks can cross the pedestrian bridge over Boundary Channel and follow the trail to the south end of Columbia Island, through the north tunnel onto the west shore of the Potomac River.
SoberRide: The anti-drunk driving program SoberRide will offer free cab rides to people 21 and older who have over-indulged on Independence Day. The program will operate from 10 p.m. Monday until 4 a.m. Tuesday. To get a free ride home in the D.C. area (up to a $30 fare), call the SoberRide program toll-free at 800-200-8294 (TAXI).
Nationals Park: The Washington Nationals will play the Chicago Cubs at 1:05 p.m. in Nationals Park. That puts extra traffic around South Capitol and M streets and along the 11th and 14th Street bridges and the Southeast-Southwest Freeway. It also adds riders to the Green Line.
Metrorail: The train system will open at 7 a.m. Monday and close at midnight. Off-peak fares will be in effect all day. Parking will be free at all Metro lots and garages. Bicycles will not be permitted within the train system.
For rider safety in crowded conditions, escalators at many downtown stations will be turned off.
Beginning at 3 p.m., every other Orange Line train traveling in the direction of New Carrollton will terminate at Stadium-Armory and return to Vienna.
After 6 p.m., all Yellow Line trains will operate between Huntington and Mount Vernon Square only. Also starting at 6 p.m., trains will leave about every eight minutes from the ends of each rail line, with two exceptions: They will leave about every four minutes from Shady Grove on the Red Line and from Vienna on the Orange Line. In downtown Washington, riders should see trains arriving at the platforms about every four minutes.
Metrobus: The buses on Monday will operate on a Saturday schedule, meaning they operate less frequently than on a regular weekday but more often than on some other holidays. Because so many streets will be closed near the Mall and near other areas across the region where celebrations are occurring, many buses will detour. Check here for Metro’s updates on detours.
MetroAccess: The service for disabled people will operate on a regular schedule Monday, but all subscription trips will be canceled. Riders need to call 301-562-5360 for reservations or go to Metro’s Web site to book their trips. To the extent possible, the transit authority says, MetroAccess will provide regular service after the fireworks, but this may be affected by road closings. If the trip is in downtown Washington, expect delays.