Plans Still Evolving for Thursday Closures
The road closings around the Pentagon on Thursday are now scheduled to begin at 3 a.m. They will be lifted at 1 p.m. if conditions permit, Arlington police say.
Drivers today should be seeing alerts about Thursday's commute on the variable message signs along I-95/395 and the Capital Beltway, among other places.
The street closures, which will be done to provide security and access for the the invitation-only dedication of the Pentagon Memorial on Thursday morning, are quite extensive and will occur in a sector of I-395 that is congested even under normlal circumstances during rush periods.
Police and Virginia traffic managers are advising commuters to avoid the area, especially between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Metrorail is a better option than driving through the zone. All stations will be open. The trains will be running on their regular schedule Thursday morning.
Buses are a different story: All Metrobuses that normally serve the Pentagon Transit Center, the largest transfer station in the Metrobus system, will move to the Pentagon City Metro station from 2 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday.
It will be a grand day for telecommuting.
While drivers should expect significant delays around the Pentagon and Crystal City, this isn't an alert for Northern Virginia drivers only. For example, drivers from Maryland who come in on New York Avenue or I-295 and head for the Southeast-Southwest Freeway in the District to reach the 14th Street Bridge are very likely to encounter extra congestion along those routes.
On Thursday, they may be better off using the Capital Beltway and the Wilson Bridge to exits in Alexandria and points south toward Springfield. Or park at Metro's Greenbelt, Largo and Branch Avenue stations to take the train.
I asked Lt. Don Grinder, Arlington police spokesman, to address some of the questions raised by readers on Monday.
-- "I ride my bike to work in DC along the trail around the Pentagon down to Memorial Bridge. Will that be closed as well on Thursday morning?"
The bike trail along Washington Boulevard will be closed.
-- "Does this mean there will be no access from Washington Blvd. to the 14th street bridge? My commute is on the GW Parkway from Spout Run to the 14th St. Bridge."
You can use the George Washington Parkway to reach I-395, but you must take the parkway south to the Humpback Bridge. (There's no construction at the Humpback Bridge during rush periods.)
Northern Virginia's Traffic Operations Center will be doing a simulation of Thursday morning's drill today. Early Thursday morning, VDOT will be monitoring the traffic patterns that develop from the road closings and will be prepared to adjust the highway message boards or the timing on traffic signals in the area.
Here's the Arlington police list of the roads to be shut down at 3 a.m.:
Washington Boulevard eastbound at Interstate 395 and Columbia Pike and westbound at Memorial Bridge, I-395 and Hayes Street; southbound I-395 to the Pentagon south parking lot; and Columbia Pike from Joyce Street to the Pentagon south parking. I-395 northbound HOV will have no access to Washington Boulevard.
Also: South Fern Street from Army Navy Drive to the Pentagon; South Eads Street from Army Navy Drive to the Pentagon; Rotary Road throughout Pentagon south parking; and the north-south connector road at the Pentagon. Traffic heading north on the I-395 HOV lanes won't have access to Eads Street and must exit at Army Navy Drive.
Sluggers: No HOV/slug traffic will be allowed into South Parking Lot. The Pentagon Reservation Commuter Slug Drop-off will be relocated to Army Navy Drive.
Parking will not be available at the Pentagon. The planners of the memorial ceremony suggest guests arrive by Metro at the Pentagon stop, on the Yellow and Blue lines. When they get to the Pentagon Station, they should go to Pentagon South Parking. The nearest public parking is at Pentagon City Mall.
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