The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

March for Life and Women’s March bring protesters — and traffic challenges — this weekend

If you’re traveling around downtown D.C., here’s what you need to know.

Attendees cheer during the Women's March on Washington in 2018 by the Lincoln Memorial. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
Placeholder while article actions load

Protesters are back in the nation’s capital this weekend, presenting travel challenges Friday and Saturday.

March for Life, the largest annual antiabortion event, will draw thousands of protesters from across the country Friday for a demonstration that starts on the Mall and ends outside the U.S. Supreme Court.

Then Saturday, thousands of women and supporters are expected to march past the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue for the Women’s March on Washington, one of several demonstrations across the country. The event follows massive gatherings of women in the past two years in protest of President Trump’s disparagement of women, minorities and immigrants.

If you are participating in either event: Have a plan to get around the District; be ready to walk; and have lots of patience, as you are likely to encounter delays and crowds in your travels. Commuters should also add extra time to their travels Friday, as road conditions are likely to be difficult because of the possibility of light snow.

Both demonstrations will include rallies on the Mall. The antiabortion group will march along Constitution Avenue, while the Women’s March on Saturday take place along Pennsylvania Avenue. Drivers will encounter rolling road closures, and public transit users should expect busier Metro stations.

Metro officials always encourage event participants to purchase SmarTrip cards in advance to avoid the crush at fare machines. Riders age 5 and older need their own card to enter the system. Metro also recommends planning your trip to avoid transferring. Each Metro line has a station near the Mall.

Here’s what you need to know for each event:

March for Life

The 46th annual antiabortion event begins with a noon rally at 12th Street on the Mall, between Madison and Jefferson drives, just east of the Washington Monument. The nearest Metro stations are Federal Triangle and Smithsonian.

The abortion issue is more polarized than ever, leading some to view March for Life as a Republican rally

At about 1 p.m., participants will begin their march east along Constitution Avenue and up to First Street NE, to the front of the U.S. Supreme Court. The nearest Metro stations for the dispersing crowd will be Capitol South and Union Station.

Road closures will begin Friday morning, but the march’s main impact on traffic will be midday and during the afternoon rush hour. D.C. police have posted parking restrictions along the route, which will be in effect from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

D.C. police plan to close these streets:

  • F Street NW between Sixth and Seventh streets NW from 6 a.m. to noon
  • Seventh Street NW between F Street and Jefferson Drive SW from about 10 a.m. to noon
  • Constitution Avenue from 14th Street NW to Pennsylvania Avenue NW and Fourth Street from Independence Avenue SW to Pennsylvania Avenue NW from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Third Street from Independence Avenue SW to Pennsylvania Avenue NW and Constitution Avenue NW from Third Street NW to Second Street NW, from noon to 3 p.m.

Women’s March

The third annual Women’s March on Saturday is expected to draw as many as 10,000 protesters. Demonstrators will gather for a 10 a.m. rally at Freedom Plaza. The nearest Metro stations are Metro Center and Federal Triangle.

What’s in a name? Women’s March groups spar over who owns the name and the movement.

At about 1 p.m., participants will line up to march toward the White House. As of Thursday afternoon, organizers had not released a march route, but they are expected to walk along Pennsylvania Avenue to Lafayette Square, in front of the White House. The nearest Metro stations for the dispersing crowd will be McPherson Square, Farragut North, Farragut West and Metro Center.

Road restrictions will not be as extensive as for the March for Life on Friday. D.C. police said parking restrictions will be in place from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday along the march’s event gathering and route.

Road closures will begin at 6:30 a.m. and last until about 4 p.m. at:

  • E Street NW between 14th and 12th streets NW
  • 13th Street, NW, between Pennsylvania Avenue and F Street NW
  • Pennsylvania Avenue NW, between 14th and 15th streets, NW and between 12th and 14 streets 

Closures starting at 10 a.m. and until about 3 p.m. include:

  • Pennsylvania Avenue NW, between 12th and Ninth streets
  • 11th Street NW, from Pennsylvania Avenue to F Street NW
  • E Street NW, between Ninth and 14th streets NW
  • 12th Street NW from Constitution Avenue to F Street NW

Transit options may be trickier Saturday, because Metro service will be adjusted for safety and maintenance work. The Red Line will run regular service on Saturday morning (Red Line work will impact train arrivals starting Saturday night, with trains every 10 to 20 minutes, depending on where you get on). Blue and Yellow line trains will run every 20 minutes; and the Orange, Silver and Green lines will run regular service.