As tens of thousands of people begin to descend on the National Mall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, area transit and government agencies say commuters could experience travel nightmares Wednesday.
The Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Lincoln Memorial. President Barack Obama and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are scheduled to speak, and security will be tight.
Several roads and memorials in D.C. -- as well as the Arlington Memorial Bridge -- are now closed and will remain closed through most of the day in response. The bridge is closed to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
In anticipation of a difficult morning commute, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) urged federal employees to consider teleworking, if possible.
For those attending the commemoration event, anyone without a ticket will only be able to access the commemoration by walking west into the area of the Reflecting Pool via the Elm walkway north of the World War II Memorial off 17th Street.
Program organizers will provide free shuttles from the Foggy Bottom Metro station to the event for ticketed spectators with mobility issues. They will be dropped off at Henry Bacon Drive and Constitution Avenue,
Participants are encouraged to take public transportation.
HOW TO GET AROUND:
Visitors are advised to use public transportation. Metrorail opened at 5 a.m. Wednesday and is operating on a normal weekday schedule.
To access the assembly location for the march at 600 New Jersey Ave NW, Metro says riders should get off at Union Station or Judiciary Square on the Red Line
For the National Mall, Metro says participants should get off at Foggy Bottom (Orange/Blue Line), Farragut West (Orange/Blue Line), Farragut North (Red Line) or the Archives (Green/Yellow Line).
If you choose to participate in the bell ringing ceremony, you should NOT plan to use the Arlington National Cemetery Metro station as the Arlington Memorial Bridge will be closed to pedestrian traffic. The closest stop to that event will be the Foggy Bottom stop.
Metro doesn't suggest the Smithsonian stop be used, either, as crowding is expected.
The morning commute hasn't been without a hiccup for Orange Line riders -- trains were single-tracking between Vienna and West Falls Church early Wednesday due to a disabled train. Regular service resumed shortly after 8 a.m., but Metro warned that residual delays may remain.
These NPS sites will be closed from 4 a.m. Wednesday until the end of the event, expected to be around 4 p.m.
- Lincoln Memorial
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Korean War Veterans Memorial
- World War II Memorial
- DC War Memorial
The following road closures went into effect at 3:15 a.m. Wednesday in the National Park Service's jurisdiction.
The closures are for pedestrians as well as vehicles. In addition, Commercial vehicles will not be permitted on Constitution Avenue between 1 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.
- Arlington Memorial Circle will remain open; however, Arlington Memorial Bridge is closed.
- F Street traffic will be allowed to access the northbound lanes of the Rock Creek Parkway to eastbound Virginia Avenue.
- Rock Creek Parkway from Virginia Avenue to Parkway Drive -- drivers should use Connecticut Avenue or 16th Street as an alternate route
- Parkway Drive from Rock Creek Parkway to Lincoln Memorial Circle
- Independence Avenue from 15th to 23rd streets NW
- Ohio Drive from Inlet bridge to Parkway Drive, including the A, B and C parking lots
- Theodore Roosevelt Bridge will remain open; however, users of the Ohio Drive exit will be forced to U-turn north onto the Potomac Freeway.
- Maine Avenue from 15th Street to Independence Avenue, including Tidal Basin parking lot
- North- and southbound lanes of 17th Street between Independence and Constitution avenues
- Daniel French Drive
- 23rd Street from Independence Ave to Constitution Ave
- Henry Bacon Drive
In addition to the National Park Service roads closed above, the Metropolitan Police Department closed the following streets at 3 a.m. and should reopen them by 6:30 p.m.
- Westbound ramp from I-395 to Maine Avenue SW -- all traffic will be diverted to the 12th Street tunnel
- Ramp from the 9th Street tunnel to westbound Maine Avenue SW -- all traffic will be diverted to outbound I-395
- 200 block of Maiden Lane merging with Maine Avenue SW -- all traffic will be diverted to northbound 14th Street SW
- Southbound Potomac River Freeway and the ramp to Independence Avenue -- traffic will be diverted to outbound Theodore Roosevelt Bridge
- Ramp from eastbound Teddy Roosevelt Bridge to Independence Avenue NW
Rolling closures are in effect along the route for the “Let Freedom Ring” Commemoration and Call to Action procession. The march will form at 600 New Jersey Avenue NW and proceed as follows:
- Proceed toward Louisiana Avenue NW
- Right towards Constitution Avenue NW
- Proceed to the US Department of Labor -200 Constitution Avenue (first rally point)
- Pass the United States Courthouse 400/500 Constitution Avenue NW veers off to the left
- Move down towards Constitution Avenue towards 5th Avenue NW
- Proceed to 600 Block of Constitution Avenue NW
- Proceed to Department of Justice – 10th and Constitution Avenue NW (brief rally)
- Continue to proceed down Constitution Avenue NW towards 14th Street
- Cross Constitution Avenue
- Proceed down 14th Street
- Proceed down Madison Street NW towards the Washington Monument
- Proceed to the WWII Memorial
- Proceed to the Lincoln Memorial where President Obama will speak
"No parking" signs have been posted on Constitution Avenue from 17th to 23rd streets NW on both sides of the street.
Morning Traffic Pattern
A modified traffic pattern will be in effect for the morning rush hour. All traffic changes on Rock Creek Parkway from Shoreham Hill to Virginia Avenue will be made in accordance with the Guideline Manual for traffic changes in the Washington Metropolitan area. All traffic from southbound Rock Creek Parkway will be forced to eastbound Virginia Avenue.
Evening Traffic Pattern
The evening traffic change will be made at the conclusion of the event.
As a security precaution, all items listed below will not be allowed onto the National Park Service property in conjunction with this event. The Secret Service reserves the right to prohibit any other items that are determined to be a potential public safety hazard.
- Animals other than helper/guide dogs
- Bags and signs exceeding size restrictions (8"x6"x4")
- Glass or thermal containers
- Laser pointers
- Mace/Pepper spray
- Supports for signs and placards
- Weapons of any kind
VISITOR SAFETY AND SECURITY:
Food and water will be available for purchase at concession stands in the area. Portable restrooms, including ADA-accessible restrooms, will be available.
Attendees should prepare for temperatures in the mid-80s and likely rain. If you are sensitive to heat, NPS recommends that you:
- Bring enough food and water for the entire day (water-bottle filling stations will be available).
- Drink plenty of water even when not thirsty.
- Wear weather-appropriate clothing.
- Use sunscreen.
- Minimize consumption of beverages containing caffeine or alcohol.
- Eat throughout the day.
- Take frequent shade breaks.
- Periodically get out of the heat and into air conditioning, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Reduce exertion during the hottest hours.
- Bring extra medication.
If you lose a member of your party, head to the U.S. Park Police family reunification tent, which will be set up on the south side of the Reflecting Pool between the D.C. War Memorial and the WWII Memorial. Uniformed Park Police officers will take any lost person to the tent.
First aid stations will be on both sides of the Reflecting Pool. Cooling tents will be located on the north side of the Reflecting Pool.