Independence Day Parade participants carry an American flag July 4, 2015, in Washington. (Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post)

Thousands of people are expected to be in the nation’s capital Thursday for Fourth of July celebrations — and protests — events that will present travel challenges for visitors and residents.

With President Trump at the center of this year’s festivities, there are new challenges due to extra security: a larger than usual list of road closures covering much of downtown and monumental Washington, new traffic restrictions for the Potomac River and the grounding of air traffic at Reagan National Airport in the evening.

Drivers should expect day-long — and rolling — street closures. If you’re planning to use Metro — and you should — plan for long waits at stations and crowded platforms and trains.

“Be patient, plan ahead, anticipate the need for extra time to get around, stay alert and be courteous to one another and to law enforcement,” D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said last week. “We encourage everyone to enjoy the holiday, partake in the celebrations and have fun but we also remind folks to use safety precautions, common sense and good judgment."

Officials are urging residents and visitors to use public transportation to get around the city. Metro plans to run rush-hour level service starting in the early afternoon to accommodate the crowds.

Most of the impacts are near and around the Mall, but other events such as a ballgame at Nationals Park and smaller Independence Day parades and fireworks across the region will also draw crowds and complicate travel. Add to that hundreds of demonstrators expected to protest Trump’s takeover of July Fourth, traditionally a nonpartisan, nonpolitical celebration.

Trump’s “Salute to America” will feature a speech by the president at the Lincoln Memorial, reserved seating for hundreds of VIPs, two fireworks displays, military tanks on the Mall and flyovers by the Blue Angels and Air Force One.

As many as 500 people are expected to attend Code Pink’s protest — one of several planned Thursday by activists opposed to the president’s presence during the holiday festivities. The group will be flying the orange balloon known as “Baby Trump.” The demonstrations are expected to be relatively small by D.C. standards.

Expect tight security, including bag checks to enter the events on the Mall through six designated access points. Leave large backpacks and other prohibited items such weapons and drones at home.

And plan for hot weather. The Capital Weather Gang is forecasting highs in the low 90s and the possibility of thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening.

If you are coming down for the events by car, transit or even by water, the key is to have a plan, be ready to walk and have lots of patience, as you may encounter delays and crowding along your trip. Here’s what you need to know.

The events


Scenes from the Independence Day Parade on July 4, 2015 in Washington. (Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post)

This year’s Independence Day festivities include an address by President Trump and a longer fireworks show.

The location: The Mall area.

The schedule:

  • 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.: National Independence Day Parade. Constitution Avenue NW from 7th Street NW to 17th Street NW. The event includes marching bands, fife and drum corps, floats, military units, giant balloons, equestrian, drill teams, and more.
  • 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Salute to America. Trump will address the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The program is a homage to the U.S. armed forces, with music and military demonstrations, including flyovers. Gates to this event open at 3:30 p.m.
  • 8 to 9:30 p.m. A Capitol Fourth. The annual concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol honors the salute America’s 243rd birthday with performances. This year’s performers include Carole King, Vanessa Williams, Colbie Caillat, the National Symphony Orchestra, and a special appearance by the Sesame Street Muppets.
  • 9:07 p.m. Fireworks Display. This year’s celebration includes fireworks from two different locations on the Mall. The first display will begin a 9:07 p.m. behind the Lincoln Memorial and will be followed 15 minutes later by fireworks from West Potomac Park. (The fireworks will be canceled in case of heavy rain, thunderstorms or high winds, according to the U.S. Park Service).

Access to the Mall: The Mall area where spectators will gather for the fireworks viewing will open to the public at 10 a.m. Entry will be restricted to specific points, where you will be subject to security checks. These are the entry points:

  • South side of Memorial Bridge (opens at 10 a.m.)
  • Constitution Avenue NW between 23rd Street NW and Henry Bacon Drive NW (opens at 10 a.m.)
  • Constitution Avenue NW and 17th Street NW (opens at 2 p.m.)
  • West side of 14th Street NW at Madison Drive NW (opens at 2 p.m.)
  • West side of 14th Street SW at Jefferson Drive SW (opens at 10 a.m.)
  • Maine Avenue SW and Raoul Wallenberg Place SW (opens at 10 a.m.)
  • East Basin Drive just south of the Jefferson Memorial — no access to the Mall from here. (opens at 10 a.m.)
  • East Basin Drive at Inlet Bridge SW (opens at 10 a.m.)

Prohibited items: A long list of prohibited items includes alcohol, balloons, glass containers and personal fireworks. No firearms are allowed.

Metro

Hours of operation: Metro will open at 7 a.m. and close at 11:30 p.m.

Scheduled track work: The platform reconstruction project on the southern end of the Yellow and Blue lines continues. Passengers in that area should consider using an open station on another line, rather than taking shuttle buses from stations south of Reagan National Airport. The good news is that no other major track work is scheduled in the 91-station system.

Restrictions: Bicycles and large coolers are not permitted after 2 p.m.

Metro has not announced any station closings, but transit some stations may be entry-only and exit-only to facilitate moving people through the system. Be prepared to walk to another station in the event this happens.

Getting to the Mall: The Smithsonian station is the closest Metro station to the Mall, but it gets very crowded during big events. To avoid the crush, you can exit at another station within walking distance of the Mall, including Federal Triangle, Foggy Bottom, Metro Center, Gallery Place, Archives, L’Enfant Plaza and Federal Center SW.

Because the Memorial Bridge will be closed not only to vehicles, but also to pedestrians this year, those who in previous years used Arlington Cemetery Station and walked across the bridge to the Mall should plan a different route.

Metrobus: The bus system will operate on a Saturday schedule. Road closures near the Mall will affect service on routes that serve the Mall area. Expect detours and delays. Some of the routes that operate near the Mall are 30N, 30S, 32, 36, 52, 54 and 74.

Other tips: Load or buy your SmarTrip cards in advance to avoid long lines at fare vending machines. Off-peak fares will be in effect. If you know you will be taking multiple trips, buy a One-Day Pass for $13, useful for Metrorail and Metrobus rides throughout the day.

Parking at Metro lots and garages will be free all day, but have a plan B in case your desired lot is full.

Air travel impacts

Air traffic to and from National Airport will be grounded for more than two hours Thursday, from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. for the flyover of military jets and again from 9 to 9:45 p.m. to accommodate the extended fireworks show.

Airport officials say they anticipate flight delays during the late afternoon and evening and that passengers should plan accordingly. Officials at the Federal Aviation Administration said that roughly 87 flights will be affected by the flight restrictions. There are 61 flights scheduled during the 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. period; 26 flights are affected during the latter closure, which is slated to begin at 9 p.m. and end at 9:45 p.m.

Getting to the airport by car may be more difficult because of the road closures in the D.C. side. Metro may be the best option for any travelers.

Construction at the airport will also affect access to Gravelly Point, a popular viewing area that many people access from the airport.

Watercraft restrictions


Fourth of July water restrictions. (D.C. government)

The following water restrictions will be in place from 4 a.m. to midnight July 4.

  • The area south of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge to the Arlington Memorial Bridge will be a No Anchorage Zone.
  • A designated anchorage zone will be north of the 14th Street Bridge on the west side of the Potomac River (Virginia shore side).
  • There will be a watercraft safety zone north of the 14th Street Bridge on the east side of the Potomac River (D.C. side); This means no boating, no anchoring.
  • Watercraft will be allowed to anchor outside of the channel north of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge and south of the 14th Street Bridge.
  • There may be intermittent travel restrictions between the 14th Street Bridge and the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge between 8:30 and 10 p.m.

Road closures

D.C. police and the National Park Service have a long list of road closures that will begin at about 4 a.m. Thursday. Parking will also be prohibited inside this perimeter for the duration of the closures.

A few highlights to keep in mind: The Arlington Memorial Bridge will close not only to vehicular traffic this year but also pedestrian traffic, which would complicate travel for thousands of visitors arriving from Northern Virginia who would have walked from Arlington to get to the Mall. And, the closures includes the shutdown of the Ninth and 12th street tunnels.

Road closures

Tunnel closures

4 a.m. to about

4 p.m. July 4

12:01 a.m. July 2

to 4 a.m. July 5

Diverted traffic

4 a.m. to about

11 p.m. July 4

Public entrance

and screening

First-aid station

“A Capitol Fourth” concert

(8-9:30 p.m.)

The U.S. Capitol grounds open at 3 p.m. Space is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

1,000 FEET

north

Capitol

South

Nationals

Park

(Game starts

at 11:05 a.m.)

U.S.

Capitol

Federal

Center

D.C.

PENN. AVE. NW

National Independence

Day Parade

(11:45 a.m.-2 p.m.)

Start

7TH ST. SW

L’Enfant

Plaza

Archives

IND. AVE. SW

CONSTITUTION AVE. NW

12th ST. NW

Parade

Federal

Triangle

Smithsonian

Secure area

14th ST. NW

Jefferson

Memorial

Tidal

Basin

17th ST. NW

Finish

OHIO DR. SW

Fireworks

safety zone

Secure area

(Closed to

public)

Potomac

River

Lincoln

Memorial

G.W. MEM. PKWY.

Arlington

Mem. Br.

Roosevelt

Br.

Public access to the Mall begins at 10 a.m. and will continue until 9 p.m. All visitors are required to enter via security screening entrances.

Inbound bridge traffic to Constitution Avenue will be diverted to the E Street Expressway.

Virginia

Road closures

Tunnel closures

Public entrance

and screening

4 a.m. to about

4 p.m. July 4

12:01 a.m. July 2

to 4 a.m. July 5

Diverted traffic

First-aid station

4 a.m. to about

11 p.m. July 4

north

Nationals

Park

(Game starts

at 11:05 a.m.)

Capitol

South

U.S.

Capitol

N. CAPITOL ST. SE

“A Capitol Fourth” concert

(8-9:30 p.m.)

The U.S. Capitol grounds open at 3 p.m. Space is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

D.C.

maryland

AVE. sW

PENNSYLVANIA AVE. NW

Federal

Center

National Independence Day Parade

(11:45 a.m.-2 p.m.)

JEFFERSON dr. sw

MADISON DR. NW

4th ST. SW

INDEPENDENCE AVE. SW

Gallery

Place/

Chinatown

maine ave. SW

Start

CONSTITUTION AVE. NW

7TH ST. SW

L’Enfant

Plaza

Washington

Channel

Archives

East

Potomac

Park

Metro

Center

12th ST. NW

Smithsonian

Federal

Triangle

Parade

The northbound lanes of the 14th Street bridge will be diverted to eastbound I-395.

Secure area

395

14th ST. NW

McPherson

Square

15th ST. NW

White

House

Jefferson

Memorial

Farragut

North

Finish

Tidal

Basin

14th st. br.

Farragut

West

17th ST. NW

Public access to the Mall begins at 10 a.m. and will continue until 9 p.m. All visitors are required to enter via security screening entrances.

OHIO DR. SW

Fireworks

safety zone

Secure area

(Closed to

public)

Potomac

River

Lincoln

Memorial

Arlington

Mem. Br.

VIRGINIA

Roosevelt Br.

27

Inbound bridge traffic to Constitution Avenue will be diverted to the E Street Expressway.

Memorial

Circle

110

Arlington

Cemetery

WJLA

building

U.S. Marine Corps

War Memorial

key br.

Rosslyn

2,000 FEET

Road closures

Tunnel closures

Public entrance and screening

4 a.m. to about 4 p.m. July 4

12:01 a.m. July 2 to 4 a.m. July 5

Diverted traffic

First-aid station

4 a.m. to about 11 p.m. July 4

Farragut

North

key br.

k St. NW

McPherson

Square

Farragut

West

NEW YORK AVE. NW

Foggy Bottom/

GWU

D.C.

Inbound bridge traffic to Constitution Avenue will be diverted to

the E Street Expressway.

H St. NW

Public access to the Mall begins at 10 a.m. and will continue until 9 p.m. All visitors are required to enter via security screening entrances.

Gallery Place/

Chinatown

White

House

G St. NW

Metro

Center

Union

Station

F St. NW

Rosslyn

7TH ST. NW

National Independence Day Parade

(11:45 a.m.-2 p.m.)

17th ST. NW

14th ST. NW

15th ST. NW

12th ST. NW

Federal

Triangle

WJLA

building

Archives

PENNSYLVANIA AVE. NW

Roosevelt Br.

Parade

Start

Finish

CONSTITUTION AVE. NW

CONSTITUTION AVE. NW

MADISON DR. NW

U.S. Marine

Corps

War

Memorial

U.S.

Capitol

Lincoln

Memorial

Arlington

Mem. Br.

JEFFERSON dr. sw

Secure area

maryland

AVE. sW

Fireworks

safety zone

INDEPENDENCE AVE. SW

4th ST. SW

N. CAPITOL ST. SE

Smithsonian

Memorial

Circle

(Closed to

public)

Route 50 ramps and roads in the area of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial will be closed from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.

 

L’Enfant

Plaza

Tidal

Basin

Secure area

Capitol

South

Arlington

Cemetery

Potomac River

Federal Center

OHIO DR. SW

“A Capitol Fourth” concert

(8-9:30 p.m.)

The U.S. Capitol grounds open at 3 p.m. Space is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Jefferson

Memorial

maine ave. SW

Washington

Channel

Arlington

National

Cemetery

Pentagon

North

Parking

Lot

14th st. br.

East

Potomac

Park

Nationals

Park

(Game starts

at 11:05 a.m.)

VIRGINIA

The northbound lanes of the 14th Street bridge will be diverted to eastbound I-395.

Pentagon

2nd ST. SW

Pentagon

2,000 FEET

Road closures

Tunnel closures

Public entrance and screening

4 a.m. to about 4 p.m. July 4

12:01 a.m. July 2 to 4 a.m. July 5

Diverted traffic

First-aid station

4 a.m. to about 11 p.m. July 4

Washington

Convention

Center

18TH ST. NW

20TH ST. NW

19TH ST. NW

21ST ST. NW

Farragut

North

L St. NW

key br.

k St. NW

k St. NW

McPherson

Square

NEW YORK AVE. NW

Foggy Bottom/

GWU

D.C.

Farragut

West

Inbound bridge traffic to Constitution Avenue will be diverted to

the E Street Expressway.

H St. NW

Gallery Place/

Chinatown

Public access to the Mall begins at 10 a.m. and will continue until 9 p.m. All visitors are required to enter via security screening entrances.

White

House

Union

Station

Capital One

Arena

G St. NW

Metro

Center

F St. NW

Rosslyn

7TH ST. NW

Union

Station

National Independence Day Parade

(11:45 a.m.-2 p.m.)

17th ST. NW

14th ST. NW

15th ST. NW

Federal

Triangle

12th ST. NW

Archives

PENNSYLVANIA AVE. NW

Roosevelt Br.

Finish

Parade

Start

CONSTITUTION AVE. NW

CONSTITUTION AVE. NW

WWII

Memorial

MADISON DR. NW

Washington

Monument

U.S.

Capitol

Lincoln

Memorial

U.S. Marine Corps

War Memorial

JEFFERSON dr. sw

Secure area

Arlington Mem. Br.

Smithsonian

maryland

AVE. sW

Fireworks

safety zone

Memorial

Circle

INDEPENDENCE AVE. SW

Route 50 ramps and roads in the area of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial will be closed from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.

 

4th ST. SW

N. CAPITOL ST. SE

INDEPENDENCE

AVE. SW

Arlington

Cemetery

(Closed to

public)

3rd

ST. SW

L’Enfant

Plaza

10TH ST. SW

6TH ST. SW

Capitol

South

Secure area

Potomac River

Tidal

Basin

Federal

Center

OHIO DR. SW

“A Capitol Fourth” concert

(8-9:30 p.m.)

The U.S. Capitol grounds open at 3 p.m. Space is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Jefferson

Memorial

Arlington

National

Cemetery

maine ave. SW

Washington

Channel

Pentagon

North

Parking

Lot

14th st. br.

Waterfront

The northbound lanes of the 14th Street bridge will be diverted to eastbound I-395.

Navy Yard-

Ballpark

East

Potomac

Park

Nationals Park

(Game starts

at 11:05 a.m.)

VIRGINIA

Pentagon

2nd ST. SW

frederick

douglass Br.

Pentagon

Anacostia

River

t St. SW

Fort

McNair

2,000 FEET

v St. SW

The following streets will be closed from about 4 a.m. to 11 p.m.:

  • Theodore Roosevelt Bridge inbound to Constitution Avenue; all traffic will be diverted to the E Street Expressway
  • Independence Avenue SW from 15th Street to 23rd Street SW
  • 23rd Street NW: northbound from Constitution Avenue to Virginia Avenue NW. Southbound 23rd Street NW traffic will be allowed to flow and access the outbound Theodore Roosevelt Bridge
  • 22nd Street NW from C Street to Constitution Avenue NW
  • 21st Street NW from C Street to Constitution Avenue NW
  • 20th Street NW from C Street to Constitution Avenue NW
  • 19th Street NW from Virginia Avenue to Constitution Avenue NW
  • 18th Street NW from Virginia Avenue to Constitution Avenue NW
  • 17th Street NW from New York Avenue to Constitution Avenue NW
  • 15th Street NW from Pennsylvania Avenue to Independence Avenue SW
  • 14th Street NW from Pennsylvania to Independence Avenue SW
  • 12th Street NW from Pennsylvania to Constitution Avenue NW
  • Ninth Street NW from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to Constitution Avenue NW
  • Seventh Street NW from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to Independence Avenue SW
  • Sixth Street NW from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to Constitution Avenue NW
  • Fourth Street NW from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to Independence Avenue SW
  • Third Street NW from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to Independence Avenue SW
  • Henry Bacon Drive NW from Constitution Avenue to Lincoln Memorial Circle NW
  • Constitution Avenue from 3rd Street to 23rd Street NW
  • Arlington Memorial Bridge (vehicle and pedestrian traffic)
  • Southbound Rock Creek Parkway will be closed at Virginia Avenue NW
  • Maine Avenue SW will be closed at I-395 to all westbound traffic
  • Access to East Potomac Park from I-395 will be by National Park Service permit only
  • The northbound HOV lanes of the 14th Street Bridge will be diverted to eastbound I-395. The northbound main lanes of the 14th Street Bridge will also be diverted to eastbound I-395.
  • Lincoln Memorial Circle and all approaches and ramps into and out of Lincoln Memorial Circle, including Henry Bacon Drive N, Daniel Chester French Drive SW, 23rd Street NW and 23rd Street SW
  • Ramp from Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge to Constitution Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW and Ohio Drive SW; all inbound traffic from the bridge will be directed to the E Street Expressway
  • Constitution Avenue NW from 23rd Street NW to 14th Street NW
  • Seventh Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to Independence Avenue SW
  • Fourth Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to Independence Avenue SW
  • 15th Street NW from E Street NW south to Raoul Wallenberg Place SW
  • 17th Street NW from E Street NW south to Independence Avenue SW
  • 18th Street NW between Constitution Avenue NW and Virginia Avenue NW
  • 19th Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to C Street NW
  • 20th Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to C Street NW
  • 21st Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to C Street NW
  • 22nd Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to C Street NW
  • Virginia Avenue NW from Constitution Avenue NW to 18th Street NW
  • C Street NW from 17th Street NW to 18th Streets NW
  • D Street NW from 17th Street NW to 18th Street NW
  • Raoul Wallenberg Place SW to Maine Avenue SW
  • Independence Avenue SW from 14th Street SW to 23rd Street SW, including merge with Rock Creek Parkway
  • Madison Drive NW from 15th Street NW to 3rd Street NW
  • Jefferson Drive SW from 15th Street SW to 3rd Street SW
  • Ohio Drive SW from the Inlet Bridge to Independence Avenue SW
  • West Basin Drive SW from Ohio Drive SW to Independence Avenue SW
  • East Basin Drive SW east of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial to Ohio Drive SW
  • Ramp from southbound and northbound George Washington Memorial Parkway to Memorial Avenue /Circle
  • Ramp from northbound Va. Route 110 to Memorial Avenue/Circle
  • Ramp from Va. Route 27 to Memorial Avenue/Circle
  • The right lane of northbound George Washington Memorial Parkway from the 14th Street Bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island.

Closed from 11 a.m. until about 10 p.m.

  • 3rd Street from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to Maryland Avenue SW
  • Constitution Avenue NW from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to 14th Street NW
  • 14th Street NW from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to Independence Avenue SW
  • Right lane of northbound George Washington Memorial Parkway from the 14th Street Bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island

Closed from 3 p.m. July 4 until midnight July 5

  • Eastbound U.S. Route 50 ramps to the George Washington Memorial Parkway and roads in the immediate area of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial
  • Southbound G-W Parkway ramp to 14th Street Bridge (9 to 9:45 p.m. as necessary)
  • Northbound G-W Parkway ramp to 14th Street Bridge (9 to 9:45 p.m. as necessary)

Tunnels closed from about 4 a.m. to 4 p.m.:

  • Ninth Street Tunnel
  • 12th Street Tunnel

Bikes and scooters

Bikes and scooters will be able to travel through areas restricted to motor vehicles, according to D.C. police. If you want to ride your bike, there are bike racks across the downtown and the Mall areas.

Other events

Nationals game. The Washington Nationals are scheduled to play the Miami Marlins at 11:05 a.m. at Nationals Park.

Palisades Parade. The lineup for the neighborhood parade begins at 10 a.m., and the parade starts at 11 a.m. from Whitehaven Parkway and MacArthur Boulevard NW. The marchers go northwest on MacArthur, turn left on Edmunds Place and left on Sherier Place, then right into the Palisades Recreation Center.

MacArthur Boulevard NW from Whitehaven Park to Edmunds Place NW will be closed from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Capitol Hill Parade. The parade participants line up at Eighth and I streets SE. The parade begins at 10 a.m.

Other parades and fireworks. There are plenty of shows across the entire region. See this list in the Going Out Guide.

Lori Aratani contributed to this report.