The Washington Post

Getting around D.C. on July 4

Independence Day celebrations will slow travel across the D.C. region, but nowhere more than in the nation’s capital and across the Potomac River in Arlington County.

Street closings

The road work projects on Constitution Avenue NW, 17th Street NW and the George Washington Parkway’s Humpback Bridge are suspended for the holiday, but it will be very difficult to drive near the Mall because of numerous street closings and parking restrictions in effect from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., and near the Potomac River in Arlington, where restrictions will be in effect from 6 a.m. to midnight.

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.


The anti-drunk driving program SoberRide will offer free cab rides to people 21 and older who have overindulged 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).

baseball GAME

The Washington Nationals will play the Chicago Cubs at 1:05 p.m. at Nationals Park. That will put extra traffic around South Capitol and M streets and along the 11th and 14th Street bridges and the Southeast-Southwest Freeway. It also will add riders to the Green Line.


The train system will open at 7 a.m. 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.

The Smithsonian station will be closed for most of the day, reopening only for entry after the fireworks show on the National Mall.

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.


The buses 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. For updates on detours, check Metro’s Web site at


The MetroAccess service for disabled people will operate on a regular schedule, 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.

Travel tips

Avoid long lines at Metro fare vending machines after events by loading up your paper Farecard or SmarTrip card for a round trip. A One-Day Pass, which costs $9, is good for Metrorail travel all day July 4.

With Smithsonian closed most of the day, Federal Triangle station is going to be very crowded. Better bets within walking distance of the Mall are Farragut North, Federal Center SW, Capitol South, L’Enfant Plaza, Archives, Union Station and Judiciary Square stations.

The Rosslyn station is about five blocks north of the Iwo Jima Memorial. The Pentagon City station is within walking distance of the Air Force Memorial.

The transfer stations at Metro Center, Gallery Place and L’Enfant Plaza will also be very crowded. Avoid the hassle of transferring just to get a little closer to the Mall and walk the rest of the way.

Because of the changes in transit schedules and the disruptions on the streets, Metro’s Trip Planner and the Next Bus arrival time calculator won’t be of much help on July 4.

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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