[This post has been updated]
Drivers may encounter a Friday afternoon rush hour that is a bit earlier and heavier than normal, because of the long holiday weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but this is not one of the big getaway weekends for the D.C. region.
In fact, many people will be in town for various holiday celebrations, including the parade at 11 a.m. Monday on MLK Avenue in Southeast Washington. This is the first time we’ve had the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial open for his holiday, so along with my regular weekend travel tips, I’ve included some advice on how to reach the memorial along the Tidal Basin.
The Capital Weather Gang says it’s going to feel a bit wintry this weekend, and there’s a chance of precipitation on Monday. Whether you’re bound for holiday events or just trying to reach the two Capitals and two Wizards games scheduled for Verizon Center over the long weekend, check the disruptions on Metro’s Blue and Orange Lines in D.C.
Metro weekend service
Blue/Orange lines: From shortly before 10 p.m. Friday till the midnight closing on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, free shuttle buses will replace Blue and Orange line trains between L’Enfant Plaza and Eastern Market. The buses will make intermediate stops at Federal Center SW and Capitol South, but those stations will be closed.
Metro says Blue Line trains will operate every 16 minutes between Franconia-Springfield and L’Enfant Plaza, and between Eastern Market and Largo Town Center.
Orange Line trains will operate every 16 minutes between Vienna and L’Enfant Plaza, and between Eastern Market and New Carrollton.
At the stations where the two lines come together, a train should arrive at the platform about every eight minutes.
On Friday night, these will be the last trains to operate through the work zone before the bus service starts:
* Leave New Carrollton at 9:33 p.m., Eastern Market at 9:50 p.m., L’Enfant Plaza at 9:56 p.m. and arrive at Vienna at 10:30 p.m.
* Leave Vienna at 9:12 p.m., L’Enfant Plaza at 9:46 p.m., Eastern Market at 9:52 p.m. and arrive at New Carrollton at 10:09 p.m.
* Leave Largo at 9:22 p.m., Eastern Market at 9:40 p.m., L’Enfant Plaza at 9:46 p.m. and arrive at Franconia-Springfield at 10:26 p.m.
* Leave Franconia-Springfield at 8:59 p.m., L’Enfant Plaza at 9:39 p.m., Eastern Market at 9:45 p.m. and arrive at Largo at 10:03 p.m.
Riders traveling through the work zone should allow 20 to 30 minutes of additional travel time, Metro said.
Red Line: From 10 p.m. Friday through the midnight closing Monday, trains will share tracks between Dupont Circle and Friendship Heights and between Takoma and Forest Glen.
Throughout the weekend, trains will leave the ends of the line at Shady Grove and Glenmont about every 24 minutes. Between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, additional trains will operate between Fort Totten and Farragut North.
Yellow Line: Because of track work work near Georgia Avenue station, trains will terminate at Mount Vernon Square rather than Fort Totten during the evening hours on Monday and Tuesday. To reach the stations north of Mount Vernon Square, take a Green Line train.
A brief wreath-laying ceremony is scheduled for 8 a.m. Monday. The memorial’s address is 1964 Independence Ave. SE.
Driving/parking: Don’t count on finding a parking space near the memorial. Free street parking for all the memorials in the area is available along Ohio Drive SW. However, that parking is very limited, and many motorists could wind up walking almost as far as they would from the closest Metro station.
The road entrance to the memorial is on West Basin Drive, off Ohio Drive. It has a few three-hour parking spaces, including some for disabled people. There’s a stopping area for tour buses as well.
Metrorail: Be sure to check the schedule above for closings and track work that may affect your travels.
Biking: The memorial area is a beautiful spot for cycling, but there are only a few bike stands near the King site.
Capital Bikeshare: A day’s membership in the bike rental program costs $7. There is a Bikeshare station at 19th Street and Constitution Avenue NW on the north side of the Mall. Other stations are at Virginia Avenue and 21st Street NW and at 19th and E streets NW. For details, check CapitalBikeshare.com.
Walking: The closest stations are Smithsonian and Foggy Bottom on the Blue and Orange lines and Arlington Cemetery on the Blue Line. None of these is a short walk but it should be manageable for a person in reasonable health.
Smithsonian is eight-tenths of a mile from the memorial grounds, Foggy Bottom 1.4 miles and Arlington Cemetery 1.2 miles. Foggy Bottom and Smithsonian are the most likely to be crowded. Alternatives are L’Enfant Plaza (Blue, Orange, Yellow, Green) at 1.3 miles, Farragut North (Red Line) at 1.5 miles, Farragut West (Orange and Blue) at 1.5 miles and McPherson Square (Orange and Blue) at 1.6 miles.
My choice would be the Arlington Cemetery station. It’s a nice, flat walk, and an inspirational one, because you cross the Potomac River via Arlington Memorial Bridge, looking up at the Lincoln Memorial, before bending right toward Independence Avenue.
The trip between the station escalators and West Potomac Park took me 21 minutes at a leisurely pace. Be especially careful crossing the roads around Memorial Circle.
Constitution Avenue NW
The National Park Service has not scheduled any lane closings for the holiday weekend along the work zone for Constitution Avenue NW.
Rock Creek Parkway
Watch for closings of the northbound and southbound curb lanes of Rock Creek Parkway at P Street, where crews will be working on the storm drainage from 5 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday and from 7 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday.
George Washington Parkway
The National Park Service says the rock stabilization project on the GW Parkway in Rosslyn has shut down for the winter, and drivers should find all lanes open. But the work will resume in the spring or summer.
Northwest Branch bridge
On the Maryland side of the Capital Beltway, the project with the biggest impact on commuter traffic is the reconstruction of the Northwest Branch bridge in Silver Spring.
The work that began last spring now has moved on to the next phase of construction. Temporary concrete barriers have been placed on the outside shoulders, and traffic is shifted to the left to allow for construction of the new outside parapets on inner and outer loops.
David Buck, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said that in the spring, traffic will be split around the work zone, and this will probably cause traffic delays.
Dulles Toll Road
Beginning this weekend, the airports authority said, workers will replace old electronic equipment along the Dulles Toll Road ramps. During the four-month project, single lane closings will occur in the work zones on weekends, but only along one ramp at a time. The weekend work begins on Fridays after 9:30 p.m. and is scheduled to end by 5 a.m. Mondays.
Metrorail project in Tysons
The Dulles Metrorail project continues to work on the guideway for the new Silver Line in the middle of Leesburg Pike (Route 7), and that work affects some major intersections in Tysons Corner.
The big blue-and-yellow truss building the guideway moved through the Tysons West Station and now is over the intersection of Tyco Road/Westwood Center Drive.
Project officials said this will require the middle of the intersection to be closed between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Friday nights. Leesburg Pike will be open for through traffic in both directions, but Spring Hill Road traffic will be detoured.