Rolling Thunder Honors Veterans

The roar of motorcycle engines is filling the air in the nation's capital.

Organizers say hundreds of thousands of bikers and spectators gather every Memorial Day weekend for the Rolling Thunder "Ride for Freedom." The event got its start in 1988, and it honors military veterans and members of the military missing in action.

Bikers rally at the Pentagon all morning Sunday, then cross the Memorial Bridge at noon and cruise around the National Mall.

Drivers throughout the region should watch out for a large number of motorcyclists on the roads all weekend. As hundreds of thousands of motorcycles race into the District for the Rolling Thunder Ride to Freedom, so will some road closures.

The annual event honoring military veterans and soldiers who are missing in action will begin May 24 at the Pentagon at 7 a.m. Given their name because of the roaring sound their bikes make as they ride in unison, Rolling Thunder will enter D.C. via Memorial Bridge after they’ve filled both the North and South Pentagon parking lots with motorcyclists. They’ll then ride around the National Mall.

While the Ride for Freedom only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, the massive amount of motorcyclists taking part in the race will shut down roads for nearly four hours. This year, the following roads will be closed from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.:

  • Memorial Bridge to 23rd street
  • North on 23rd street to Constitution Avenue
  • East on Constitution to Pennsylvania
  • East on Pennsylvania to 3rd Street South
  • South on 3rd Street to Independence Avenue
  • West on Independence to West Basin Drive
  • Southwest on West Basin Drive to Ohio Drive
  • Northwest on Ohio to Franklin D. Roosevelt Park, where the motorcycles will then disband.

Authorities suggest that motorists find alternate routes or allow for possible delays if they’re driving near the area.

The NBC Washington traffic map will be updated throughout the day as roads open or close, so you can always check back here for the latest conditions; viewers can also follow traffic reporter Melissa Mollet on Twitter at @first4traffic.

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