Traffic tips for July 4


Driving and parking anywhere near the National Mall for the fireworks will be very difficult. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

Car travel will be especially difficult for people coming into the District from Virginia on Independence Day. Many roadways around the Mall will be closed from early morning until late at night. Parking near the Mall will be very limited. Watch for emergency no-parking signs.

The National Park Service notes several other places to view the fireworks over the Mall: Meridian Hill Park and Lincoln Park in the District, and Gravelly Point, the Mount Vernon Trail and the Marine Corps Memorial in Virginia.

Parking in Virginia is limited to Gravelly Point and the north Pentagon parking lot, the park service said. No parking will be allowed on grassy areas at Gravelly Point.

A very long list of road closings is at the bottom of this posting. But these are some of the most significant: Arlington Memorial Bridge, Rock Creek Parkway south of Virginia Avenue NW, Lincoln Memorial Circle and all approaches, the ramp from Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge to Constitution Avenue NW (with inbound traffic on Interstate 66 directed to the E Street Expressway), Constitution Avenue NW from 23rd to 14th streets, the eastbound Route 50 ramps to the George Washington Parkway and roads by the Marine Corps Memorial, the ramps connecting the parkway to the 14th Street Bridge and East Basin Drive from the 14th Street Bridge ramp to the Inlet Bridge.

The 14th Street Bridge and the Roosevelt Bridge will remain open throughout the day, the park service said. Don’t stop or park on the bridges. Vehicles that do so will be immediately ticketed and towed.

The Virginia Department of Transportation will adjust signal timings at more than 122 intersections along major arterial roads, including Routes 1, 29, 50, 7, 123, 236 and 244. Signals will be timed to help move traffic into the District during the day and then south and west between 9:30 p.m. and midnight.

[See also the guide to Metro travel on July 4.]

Biking
The park service will provide a free self-park bike area at 14th and 15th streets on Independence Avenue SW.

SoberRide
The anti-drunk-driving program SoberRide will offer free cab rides to people 21 and older from 10 p.m. on Independence Day to 4 a.m. Saturday. 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).

The Mall
The Mall will be open to the public at 10 a.m. Friday. Entry will be restricted to specific points, where people will be subject to security checks. The Capitol grounds will open at 3 p.m.

Events
These are the key traffic-generating and traffic-impeding events of Independence Day.

  • Nationals game. The Washington Nationals are scheduled to play the Chicago Cubs in Nationals Park at 11:05 a.m.
  • National parade. The National Independence Day Parade is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday along Constitution Avenue NW from Seventh to 17th streets.
  • Folklife Festival. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the Mall between Seventh and 14th streets.
  • Concerts. The concert at the Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument grounds is scheduled for 6 to 9:10 p.m. and the Capitol Fourth Concert, on the West Lawn of the Capitol, for 8 to 9:30 p.m.
  • Fireworks. The show on the Mall is scheduled for 9:10 to 9:27 p.m.
  • Palisades Parade. The neighborhood parade begins at Whitehaven Parkway and MacArthur Boulevard NW., and proceeds Northwest on MacArthur, left on Edmunds Place, left on Sherrier Place,then right into the Palisades Recreation Center. Road closings start noon and end about 1:30 p.m. MacArthur Boulevard will be closed from Reservoir Road to Arizona Avenue for the parade.
  • Capitol Hill Parade. The paraders form up at Eighth and I (Eye) streets SE at 8 a.m. The parade begins at 10 a.m. and ends at noon, after going north on Eighth Street and west on D Street SE. to the park at Seventh and D streets SE.

Road closings
This is the list collected by the National Park Service.

The District, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

  • Arlington Memorial Bridge and Arlington Memorial Circle on the Virginia end to and including Lincoln Memorial Circle in the District
  • Rock Creek Parkway south of Virginia Avenue NW to Lincoln Memorial Circle, including all approaches and ramps
  • Parkway Drive from Rock Creek Parkway to Lincoln Memorial Circle
  • Lincoln Memorial Circle and all approaches and ramps into and out of Lincoln Memorial Circle, including Henry Bacon Drive NW and Daniel Chester French Drive SW
  • Ramp from Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge to Constitution Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW and Ohio Drive SW
  • Inbound traffic on I-66 will be directed to the E Street Expressway
  • Constitution Avenue NW from 23rd Street to 14th Street
  • 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd streets NW between Constitution Avenue and C Street
  • 18th Street NW between Constitution Avenue and Virginia Avenue
  • Virginia Avenue NW between Constitution Avenue and 18th Street
  • 17th Street NW from E Street south to Independence Avenue
  • C and D streets NW from 17th to 18th streets
  • 15th Street NW from E Street south to Raoul Wallenberg Place
  • Raoul Wallenberg Place SW to Maine Avenue SW
  • Independence Avenue SW west of 14th Street to 23rd Street, including the merge with Rock Creek Parkway
  • Madison Drive NW from 15th Street to Third Street
  • Jefferson Drive SW from 15th Street to Third Street
  • Seventh Street NW between Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue
  • Fourth Street NW between Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue
  • Ohio Drive SW from the Inlet Bridge to Independence Avenue
  • West Basin Drive SW from Ohio Drive SW to Independence Avenue
  • East Basin Drive SW, east of the Jefferson Memorial to Ohio Drive

Virginia, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

  • Ramp from southbound and northbound George Washington Parkway to Memorial Avenue and Circle
  • Memorial Avenue (Traffic will be allowed to enter Arlington Cemetery and 110.)
  • Ramp from Route 27 to Memorial Avenue/Circle. (Traffic can exit onto Route 50.)
  • Ramp from southbound I-395 to the northbound George Washington Parkway. (Closes at 9 a.m.)
  • Ramp from Route 50 to Route 27
  • Ramp to northbound George Washington Parkway from Route 50

The George Washington Parkway will have one northbound lane open to vehicles. There will be a one-hour closing of the parkway in both directions between I-395 and Boundary Channel between 9 and 10 p.m. (Fireworks time.) The ramp from Route 27 to the northbound parkway will also be closed. Traffic will be diverted to I-395.

Virginia, 3 p.m. to midnight
The eastbound Route 50 ramps to the George Washington Parkway and roads in the immediate area of Marine Corps Memorial

Street closings from 11 a.m. to about 10 p.m. for the D.C. parade

  • Third Street, between Pennsylvania Avenue and Maryland Avenue SW
  • Constitution Avenue NW from Pennsylvania Avenue to 14th Street
  • 14th Street NW between Pennsylvania and Independence avenues.
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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