The weekend and beyond: Memorial Day events, getaways, Metro delays


Rolling Thunder roars into D.C. during the annual Memorial Day ride honoring veterans on May 29, 2011. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

This is one of the big holiday weekends when many travelers leave the D.C. region while many others head into it for Memorial Day activities. The highway departments will suspend road work for the peak travel times, but Metro is shutting stations on the Red and Orange lines.

One exception to the roadwork suspension: Crews continue to work on that sinkhole that opened up at 14th and F streets NW.

The Capital Weather Gang says the cool-down will last through the long weekend, but the days will become increasingly sunny.

The Nationals play the Phillies through Sunday, and have a Memorial Day afternoon game with the Orioles. Those games are likely to draw many out-of-town fans into D.C. At RFK Stadium, D.C. United will play the Portland Timbers at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The Delaplane Strawberry Festival is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Sky Meadows State Park, also a great place for a hike along the Appalachian Trail. See more event listings in the Going Out Guide.

The peak period for the holiday getaway usually is 1 to 8 p.m. Friday. Use this link to our summer getaway guide.

HIGHLIGHTS: Virginia traffic | Bay Bridge | Metro delays | Rolling Thunder | Memorial Day events | Monday transit | D.C. holiday rules

Virginia traffic patterns

The Virginia Department of Transportation took a look at historic traffic data to see the times and places where congestion has been heaviest on Memorial Day weekends. While history doesn’t necessarily foretell the future, it’s useful to see the traditional hotspots statewide:

  • Interstate 95 southbound between Lorton and Fredericksburg on Friday afternoon through Saturday morning.
  • Interstate 95 northbound between Interstate 295 in Richmond and Doswell, and between Thornburg and Dumfries, on Monday afternoon and evening.
  • Interstate 64 eastbound between Interstate 664 and Willoughby Spit on Friday and Saturday afternoons.
  • Interstate 64 westbound between Granby Street and Willoughby Spit on Friday and Monday afternoons.
  • Interstate 81 northbound between Lexington and Fairfield on Monday afternoon.

Northern Virginia HOV lanes

This is the schedule for the holiday weekend.

  • Friday: Normal HOV-3 restrictions are in effect. Interstate 95/395 reversible lanes will be southbound starting at 1 p.m.
  • Saturday: I-95/395 reversible lanes remain southbound until 2 p.m. and switch to northbound by 4 p.m.
  • Sunday: I-95/395 reversible lanes remain northbound all day, but will be closed to regular traffic for the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • Monday: HOV restrictions on Interstate 66 and I-95/395 are lifted. I-95/395 reversible lanes remain northbound all day.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge

The best Bay Bridge travel times for summer weekend getaways are Thursdays before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m., Fridays before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m., Saturdays before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m., Sundays before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m., and holiday Mondays before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m. The regular car toll for the bridge now is $4, paid eastbound, but it will go to $6 on July 1.

Metro weekend delays

Service on the Red and Orange lines will be affected by Metro’s rebuilding program from 10 p.m. Friday through the rail system’s midnight closing Monday.

Red Line. Free shuttle buses will replace trains between Shady Grove and Twinbrook. The Shady Grove and Rockville stations will be closed. Trains between Twinbrook and Glenmont are scheduled to operate every 10 minutes during the daytime hours, and on their regular weekend schedules at other times.

The buses will add about 20 minutes to normal travel time between Twinbrook and Shady Grove. People who would normally park at Shady Grove or Rockville for a weekend trip might want to drive closer in, to Twinbrook, White Flint or Grosvenor stations, and park there.

Orange Line. Buses will replace trains between Vienna and Ballston. The Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations will be closed. Trains between Ballston and New Carrollton will operate on their regular weekend schedules.

The buses will operate on express and local routes. The express between Vienna and Ballston will add about 25 minutes to normal travel times. The local, stopping at all the stations, will add about 40 minutes to normal travel time if taken all the way.

Rockville Hometown Holidays

The city’s festival covers several major events, including the Taste of Rockville from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, a 9 a.m. Monday concert and a Memorial Day ceremony starting at 9:30 a.m. The parade starts at 10:30 a.m. See more details on the Rockville Web site.

Note that the Rockville Metrorail station will be closed this weekend. There are bike racks and many places to park throughout the Town Center

Rolling Thunder

On Sunday, motorcyclists begin to gather in the North and South Pentagon parking lots at 7 a.m. for a noon departure across the Memorial Bridge, around the National Mall, to West Potomac Park in D.C. See a map on the Rolling Thunder Web site.

From 7 a.m. to about 4 p.m., Washington Boulevard in Arlington County will be closed from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge. During that time, Arlington Cemetery will be accessible only from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110. In D.C., streets will be closed along the route as the bikers pass by.

Memorial concerts

The National Memorial Day concert is set for 7 p.m. 8 p.m. Sunday on the west lawn of the Capitol. These streets are closed through 4 a.m. Monday: First Street between Independence Avenue SW and Constitution Avenue NW, Pennsylvania Avenue NW between First Street NW and Third Street NW, Maryland Avenue between First Street SW and Third Street SW. First Street between Garfield Circle and Peace Circle will remain closed through 7 p.m. Monday. Parking near the Capitol is very limited. The nearest Metrorail stations are Capitol South and Union Station.

The Marine Band plays at Wolf Trap at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Memorial Day events

The annual wreath-laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at Arlington Cemetery.

The National Memorial Day Parade is scheduled for 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. The Constitution Avenue parade route starts at Seventh Street NW and ends at 17th Street. See a map.

The streets along the following route will be closed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Constitution Avenue will be closed between Seventh and 23rd streets NW from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Seventh Street\ NW from Constitution Avenue to Independence Avenue also will be closed.

The closest Metrorail stations to the parade route are Archives, on the Yellow and Green lines, and Smithsonian and Federal Triangle on the Blue and Orange lines. Be sure to note Metro’s weekend work schedule above and the Monday service plan below.

Metro’s holiday schedule

On the Monday holiday, Metrorail will open at 7 a.m. and close at midnight. Trains will operate on a Sunday schedule, and off-peak fares will be in effect. Parking is free at the Metro lots and garages.

Metrobuses will operate on a Sunday schedule. MetroAccess subscription trips are not in effect on Monday. People who qualify for the paratransit service and want to make trips this Monday need to make separate reservations.

See more Monday transit information compiled by Mark Berman.

D.C. holiday rules

The District Department of Transportation will lift the reversible lane restrictions for the Memorial Day holiday on Monday. Parking regulations will be enforced in the Nationals Park neighborhood. Elsewhere, the Department of Public Works will suspend enforcement of expired meters and the residential parking and rush hour lane restrictions. Booting, towing and abandoned vehicle removal also will be suspended for the holiday.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.
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