Construction is nearing completion at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Center for the Performing Arts. The first major expansion of the Kennedy Center will include studios, rehearsal rooms, classrooms, a lecture hall, a cafe and other features. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

A portion of Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway near the Kennedy Center will close to all traffic for four days, starting Thursday, for the installation of a new pedestrian bridge over the parkway that will connect the arts center to the riverfront.

The closure is likely to create significant backups for thousands of commuters on Friday and Monday, and scores of travelers who use the parkway over the weekend. Traffic impacts are anticipated in and around the Foggy Bottom area. As many as 37,700 vehicles travel through that portion of the parkway daily, according to city traffic counts from 2015.


Access will also be restricted for pedestrians and bicyclists. A portion of the popular Rock Creek trail — between F Street NW at the Kennedy Center and the Roosevelt Bridge — will be closed.

The travel lanes will be closed to vehicles from Virginia Avenue NW to the Interstate 66/Potomac River Freeway interchange, behind the Lincoln Memorial, starting at 8 p.m. Thursday through 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Here are the expected detours:

  • Traffic from the north will follow a detour on Virginia Avenue NW.
  • Traffic from the south will follow a detour onto the ramp that leads to Interstate 66/Potomac River Freeway.
  • Pedestrians and bicyclists will find detour signs at F Street NW at the Kennedy Center to Virginia Avenue and 23rd Street to the Lincoln Memorial.

Kennedy Center officials are urging neighbors to add extra time to get in and out of the area, and asking visitors to plan accordingly if they want to make it on time to any functions. If possible, people should use Metro to get there or avoid the area. Those who need to travel through there should be extra patient and follow detour signs. Traffic safety officers will be directing traffic in and around the Kennedy Center.

The bridge installation is one of the last pieces in a major expansion of the arts center — a total capital campaign of $250 million including construction, furnishings and program support. The expansion is adding 72,000 square feet of classroom and performance space on four acres south of the white marble arts center. The project also includes a reflecting pool and outdoor space that will allow for screenings or performances.

Construction started in fall 2015, and major work is expected to be completed this month for a September opening. The bridge will open Sept. 7, coinciding with the opening of the entire project. Kennedy Center spokeswoman Michelle A. Pendoley said the bridge will be closed off until the opening, with safety barriers and monitored by security. After this weekend’s installation, crews will work on installing walking surfaces, lighting, landscaping and guardrails. Drivers in the area should expect more partial lane closures during the next two months, she said.