The weekend and beyond: Prepare for congestion in D.C.

April 12, 2013

The 2011 National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. This year’s parade is set for Saturday. (Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post)

This week saw the D.C. area skip spring and jump right ahead to summer, but the  Capital Weather Gang forecast says we’re in for “a gorgeous springlike weekend.” Friday has been wet and windy, but Saturday and Sunday should be quite lovely.

That’s good, because there is a lot going on this weekend. The Nationals, Wizards, Capitals and United will all play home games on Friday and Saturday. The National Cherry Blossom Festival winds down on Sunday, preceded by Saturday’s parade and street festival. (Head to the Going Out Guide for more on two beer festivals this weekend and loads of other events.)

Here’s what you need to know this weekend:

Sports, sports and more sports

The four active D.C. sports teams all have home games on Friday and/or Saturday, the last time D.C. will have this many active professional teams playing until the fall. When the NationalsWizardsCapitals and United play home games, be prepared for increased traffic around Nationals Park, the Verizon Center and RFK Stadium.

Nationals: The Nats host the Braves for a three-game series (7:05 p.m. Friday, 1:05 pm. Saturday and 1:35 p.m. Sunday). After that, the Nats are out of town until April 22. Here are some tips for getting to the ballpark.

Wizards: Washington’s home finale is at 7 p.m. Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers. The team closes out its season on the road next week against Chicago.

Capitals: The Capitals take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in D.C. at 7 p.m. Saturday.

United: The New York Red Bulls come to RFK Stadium for a game at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Prepare for crowded trains, packed streets

Metro logged one of its busiest days on Wednesday, and the system could be particularly jammed up this weekend. On Saturday, there are games at Nationals Park, the Verizon Center and RFK Stadium, while the Japanese Street Festival and Cherry Blossom Parade will draw people toward downtown D.C. Expect the Metro system to be very busy as people head to these events. You should avoid driving into or through D.C. if at all possible, but if you must, expect to encounter delays.

Cherry blossoms

Still haven’t made your way to the cherry blossoms? If you’re heading there this weekend, check out this map and review these travel tips:

Metrorail: Metro ridership spikes during the blossom season, as anyone who has boarded a train recently can attest. Expect packed trains, but enjoy a reprieve from weekend track work (it doesn’t resume until April 19, when two Orange Line stations and the Judiciary Square station on the Red Line will close).

Walking: Smithsonian is the Metro station closest to the Tidal Basin, but it’s a madhouse at blossom time. If you can manage a little more walking, consider the L’Enfant Plaza, Federal Triangle or Foggy Bottom stops.

Biking: Capital Bikeshare has multiple stations near and around the Mall. (You can find a map at www.capitalbikeshare.com.) If you bring your own bike, there is some parking near the Washington Monument and by the Jefferson Memorial.

Parking: It can be tough to find parking near the Tidal Basin during blossom time. Drivers can park at Hains Point and take a shuttle. Limited parking for people with disabilities is available near the memorials.

READ: More travel tips for cherry blossom season.

11th Street closure in Southeast D.C.

11th Street SE will close between M and K streets from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The following detours will be in place during the closures:

  • Northbound 11th Street traffic will be detoured via M Street SE to 8th Street SE, then onto G Street SE and back onto 11th Street north of K Street SE
  • Southbound 11th Street traffic will be detoured to I Street SE, then to 8th Street SE and M Street SE to get back to 11th Street south of M Street SE.

This is part of the 11th Street Bridge Project, and additional closures are coming during the weekends of April 20-22 and May 4-6.

Japanese Street Festival 

This event on Saturday (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.) will close the following streets from 7 p.m. on Friday until 11 p.m. Saturday.

  • Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 9th and 14th streets NW
  • 10th Street NW between Constitution Avenue and E Street NW
  • 11th Street NW between Pennsylvania Avenue and E Street NW
  • 12th Street NW between Constitution Avenue and E Street NW
  • 13th Street between NW Pennsylvania Avenue and E Street NW.

Cherry Blossom Festival Parade

The parade’s rehearsal will close the following streets on Saturday beginning at 4:30 a.m. until around 1 p.m.:

  • 7th Street between Pennsylvania Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW
  • Constitution Avenue between 6th and 9th streets NW.

The parade itself is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to noon and will close Constitution Ave from 7th Street NW to 23rd Street NW between 9:30 and sometime after the parade ends.

The parade will head north on 7th Street NW, go west on Constitution Avenue NW and continue to 17th Street NW, where the participants will disband.

Justin’s Cafe Block Party

This event will close First Street SE between L and K streets SE on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. (Read more about it here.) If you’re planning on driving to the Nationals game or otherwise traveling in the Navy Yard area, keep this in mind.

Race to Stop the Silence 8K

This event is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Sunday. The following streets will close at 5 a.m. Sunday and reopen by noon, according to D.C. police:

  • Pennsylvania Avenue NW from 12th to 14th streets
  • 13th Street from E Street NW to Pennsylvania Avenue NW

The race itself will form on Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 12th and 13th streets NW before heading east to Columbus Circle, veering from Northwest to Southwest and back again before ultimately finishing at Pennsylvania Avenue NW at 12th Street NW. Find a full map here.

Lane closures in Montgomery County

Northbound and southbound MD 355/Rockville Pike: Single-lane closures from Elmhirst Drive to Jones Bridge Road on Sunday and Monday from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. This is due to utility work.

North Frederick Road/Hungerford Drive/MD 355 at Mannakee Street: Single- and double-lane closures from Sunday at 7 p.m. through Monday at 5 a.m for resurfacing.

Southbound Rockville Pike/MD 355 at Marinelli Road: Single- and double-lane closures on Friday at 8 p.m. through Monday at 5 a.m for “patching.”

West Montgomery Avenue/MD 28 from Hurley Avenue to South Adams Street: Single- and double-lane closures from Sunday at 10 p.m. through Monday at 5 a.m. for resurfacing.

Pennsylvania Avenue closure in Maryland

Pennsylvania Avenue/MD 4 will have single-lane closures from Monday, April 15, through Wednesday, April 17, from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. the following mornings. This is for pavement markings and the placement of concrete barriers.

Bridge/tunnel inspections and closures in D.C.

The District Department of Transportation will inspect bridges and tunnels in D.C. in the coming weeks, which will create some lane closures. All of these closures are going to take place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., according to the District.

Wednesday, April 17:

E Street NW over I-395 – There will be alternating left- and right-lane closures of northbound I-395 under the E Street NW bridge.

Thursday, April 18:

11th Street SE over Eastbound SE/SW Freeway (I-695) – There will be alternating left- and right-lane closures of the eastbound SE/SW Freeway (I-695) under 11th Street SE, followed by a right- lane closure of the westbound SE/SW Freeway (I-695) under 11th Street SE.

Tuesday, April 23:

Southbound I-395 (Mall Tunnel Exit Ramp) to Eastbound SE/SW Freeway (I-695) [Bridge 1102/Ramp C, if you're curious] –  There will be alternating left- and right-lane closures of the ramp from southbound I-395 to eastbound SE/SW Freeway (I-695), followed by a left lane closure of the I-395 exit from eastbound SE/SW Freeway (I-695) to the Mall Tunnel.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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