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Posted at 1:55 PM ET, 12/ 9/2010

Closings, detours for tree lighting

By Michael D. Bolden

[This post has been updated]

The National Christmas Tree Lighting and the headaches posed by the closing of some downtown streets is drawing nigh.

The event is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday on the Ellipse, south of the White House. According to the District Department of Transportation, the following streets will be closed beginning about 4:30 p.m. through the end of the event:
-- 15th Street from Pennsylvania/E Street NW to Constitution Avenue.
-- 17th Street from New York Avenue NW to Constitution.

Parking will be restricted on 15th and 17th streets from Pennsylvania to Constitution from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday.

Dr. Gridlock advises that the best best for those with tickets to the ceremony is to take Metrorail to McPherson Square, Farragut North, Farragut West, Federal Triangle or Metro Center.

Expect widespread impacts to transit services that operate on the streets in this area. We'll provide updates as they become available.

Metrobus
Some Metrobus routes will experience detours from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
-- Routes 32, 36, 37 and 39 westbound will use 13th Street NW to I Street and eastbound will use K Street to 13th Street.
-- Routes 42, S2 and S4 eastbound will use K Street NW to 11th Street.
-- Route 13 will be split, with 13A accessing Virginia Avenue and 19th Street via Constitution Avenue and the Memorial Bridge; 13B will access the Federal Triangle Metrorail station via Independence Avenue and the 14th Street Bridge.

Starting points for routes will also change:
-- H1, L1 and N3 will start at Virginia Avenue and 19th Street NW.
-- P1 and X1 will start at 10th Street terminal.
-- L2 will start at Farragut Square .
-- 11Y, G8, P17-19, W13 and X2 will start at Franklin Square.
-- Some S2 and S4 buses will turn around at Franklin Square.

If Constitution Avenue is closed during the lighting, Metro says buses will travel north on 18th, 20th or 22nd streets to K Street or south on 17th Street to Independence Avenue.

Maryland Commuter Bus
The Maryland Transit Administration says many of its routes will be affected and riders can expect significant delays. The agency announced the following changes for Route 929:
-- After serving the stop on Independence Avenue and 7th Street SW, the bus will continue straight on Independence to serve the stop on 18th Street and C Street NW. The following stops will not be served: Constitution Avenue and 7th Street NW, Constitution Avenue and 10th Street NW, and Constitution Avenue between 14th and 15th streets NW.

Other events
If you have any plans in the city tonight, the tree lighting may well affect your travel to and from venues. The Kennedy Center has several perfomances scheduled; the Florida Panthers are in town to take on the Washington Capitals; and there are events at the Smithsonian that may be affected.

Are you going to the National Christmas Tree Lighting or other events in the area? Or do you have advice for avoiding the traffic and subway congestion? Post a comment below.

By Michael D. Bolden  | December 9, 2010; 1:55 PM ET
Categories:  District, Driving, Metro, Metrobus  
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Comments

What are the closest Capital Bikeshare stations?

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | December 7, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

TheBoreaucrat,

Looks like locations north of New York Avenue on 15th Street and on 14th south of G may be the most convenient. Here is a link to the map of locations: http://www.capitalbikeshare.com/station_map

Michael Bolden
Development &
Transportation Editor

Posted by: Michael Bolden | December 7, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Bolden, that would be great information to include in posts on such events.

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | December 7, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Thankfully, I work and commute further north of the hellacious gridlock that this event always causes, but why can't this event be moved to a weekend so it won't be so disruptive to commuters and residents? It would kill people to wait 48 hours until Saturday night?

Posted by: WashingtonDame | December 9, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"Thankfully, I work and commute further north of the hellacious gridlock that this event always causes, but why can't this event be moved to a weekend so it won't be so disruptive to commuters and residents? It would kill people to wait 48 hours until Saturday night?"

Amen to that. The Caps have a home game tonight and my usual routine is to drive into the city, pick up my wife at her office near the Kennedy Center, then drive across town to where we park. Tonight I'm taking the Metro and I told her to take the Metro as well and meet me at Gordon Biersch. We'd never be able to make it across town. The only night that's usually close to this one in terms of hellacious traffic is Halloween with all the parents rushing to get home early.

What I find interesting about this event, from the perspective of someone who finds traffic and roads interesting, is that it underscores to me how many commuters are on autopilot and do not know of alternative routes to reach their destinations. For example, I mentioned my normal drive across town to Caps games. I turn left from Constitution onto 15th. But that will be closed tonight. I know very well that it's illegal to go left from Constitution to 14th as an alternative and that you have to go down to 12th. But lots of drivers seem NOT to know this (or not to care) and they just back up the traffic that much more trying to make illegal left turns there. It really astonishes me that people aren't familiar with the alternate routes within downtown so as to have a sense for what other ways make sense when something goes wrong. It seems to me that going out there and just joining the herd is a sure-fire way to get yourself stuck. (One absolute rule of thumb I use: It's always better to opt for a one-way street whenever possible. Failing that, opt for a wider street that has left-turn lanes. Otherwise, you risk interminable delays behind people struggling to go left who don't understand the concept of making a series of right turns.)

Viewed differently--95% of the people who normally use 15th Street will try to use 14th instead. So anyone in that area with common sense would opt for another route to avoid 14th (say, 13th to Pennsylvania to 12th to Madison, or 10th to Constitution to either the 9th Street Tunnel, 7th, or 12th to Madison).

Posted by: 1995hoo | December 9, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure this is not held on a Saturday because there are a lot of politicos in attendance. Hence the 5pm start time (right after work/end of the work day). Just makes it easier for scheduling purposes.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | December 9, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know how long the program usually lasts?

Posted by: shawn0898 | December 9, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know how long the program usually lasts?

Posted by: shawn0898 | December 9, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

1995hoo:

Thanks for your alt route analysis. What you need to embrace, however, is an alternative mode of transportation. There's no faster, or funner, way to get around DC than by bike.

Posted by: bikelikeme | December 9, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"Thanks for your alt route analysis. What you need to embrace, however, is an alternative mode of transportation. There's no faster, or funner, way to get around DC than by bike."

Do you mean I need to BIKE_OR_DIE? Your comments remind me of that notorious commenter from the old Washington Post discussion forum.


In all seriousness, while I could take my bike on the Metro, including at rush hour because it folds, I don't much enjoy riding in the cold, there's no place to store it at the Verizon Center, and--most importantly--it wouldn't help me much after the game in terms of getting my wife back home with me (I dropped her off at the Metro this morning for her commute). So I'll just cram into the Metro and hope that the ride home isn't too jammed.

Posted by: 1995hoo | December 9, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

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