OK, the big weekend is upon us. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected in the District over the next couple of days for the March for Our Lives event and National Cherry Blossom Festival.
If you plan to attend either event or simply need to be in the city for other reasons, we are here to help with information on transit services, road closures, parking restrictions and advice on how to get around. Keep in mind that there will likely be crowded conditions on Metro and other transit services starting on Friday as people begin to arrive in the city.
MARCH FOR OUR LIVES
What: A large rally and march in support of gun control laws to prevent mass shootings. Organized by high school students from Parkland, Fla. Will feature many student speakers and appearances by celebrities. There are no formal estimates of potential crowd size but is expected to rival some of the largest rallies in recent memory.
When: Saturday, 12-3 p.m., though crowds are expected to gather much earlier.
Where: Pennsylvania Avenue from 12th to 3rd Streets, and the surrounding vicinity.
Here is a full list of road closures and parking restrictions, which is subject to change. Note that some of these closures will be in effect as early as Friday. Suffice it to say, it will be very difficult to navigate your way anywhere near the march site.
Imagine a large rectangular area stretching from 14th St. NW to the west, Independence Avenue to the south, 1st St. NW to the east and E St. NW to the north. That is the area that will largely be closed off to vehicular traffic until at least 6 p.m. Saturday.
If you are taking part in the March for Our Lives, there are a number of ways to get there. Consider the following:
- Take Metro. Metrorail will be operating a weekday rush hour schedule for most of the day. YOU WILL NEED A SMARTRIP CARD. Metro is urging people to buy them in advance in order to save time. They are available at any Metro station, as well as CVS and Giant food stores.
- Consider getting an unlimited day pass for $14.50. This will save you the stress of worrying about fares and trying to predict how many rides you will take.
- The closest stops to the march are Archives/Navy Memorial, Smithsonian, and L’Enfant Plaza, though Metro Center, Gallery Place, McPherson Square and several others are within a reasonable walking distance. It should be possible to get to the march location from any line (Red, Green/Yellow, Orange/Blue) without the need to transfer trains. NOTE: FEDERAL TRIANGLE METRO STATION WILL BE CLOSED.
- Pack lightly. Metro will not let you bring a bicycle, large coolers or other large items onto trains Saturday.
- Think about getting dropped off at a Metro parking lot. Metro garages and lots may fill quickly, so Metro is encouraging the use of taxis, bikes, or bus services. If you do park at a Metro lot, you will be charged $2 upon exiting.
- MARC train is offering special Saturday service on the Penn Line from Baltimore into D.C. It’s possible to take the MARC Penn Line and get off at Union Station and walk to the march, avoiding Metro entirely. Trains arrive in D.C. as early as 7:22 a.m. and leave as late as 10:35 p.m.
- Lyft is offering free rides to the march. Organizers have set up a drop-off point at 7th and Independence Avenue.
- The March for Our Lives has an app available for download.
95 Express Lanes
Meanwhile, the 95 Express Lanes reversal schedule will be adjusted this weekend to support increased traffic visiting Washington D.C. On Saturday at about midnight, the southbound lanes will begin closing for reversal and will reopen in the northbound direction by about 2 am. At about 10 am, the northbound lanes will begin closing for reversal and will reopen in the southbound direction by about noon and remain southbound until Sunday.
On Sunday at about midnight, the southbound lanes will begin closing for reversal. The Lanes will reopen in northbound direction by about 2 am. Lanes will remain northbound until Monday at 11 am.
National Cherry Blossom Festival
The National Cherry Blossom Festival formally kicks off this weekend, with the opening ceremony at the Warner Theatre Sunday. (It was pushed back a day to accommodate the March for Our Lives rally.) The cherry blossoms were on track to be at peak bloom around this weekend, but cold temperatures and snow in recent days has pushed that forecast back until April 10. That could mean smaller crowds than initially expected this weekend, which is a good thing. Nevertheless, there will be many people heading to see the trees Saturday and Sunday.
The cherry blossoms are located at the Tidal Basin, which is to the south and west of where the March for Our Lives will be held. But, you can definitely expect some overlap crowds in the area of L’Enfant Plaza and Smithsonian.
To enjoy the blossoms:
- Consider coming on Sunday instead of Saturday to avoid the March for Our Lives crows.
- There is very little parking in this area, so don’t plan on driving to the blossoms.
- Use Metro and hop off at the Smithsonian or L’Enfant Plaza.
- Try the DC Circulator National Mall Route, which costs $1 and can take riders from Union Station to steps away from the blossoms.
- If you are driving through the area, consider avoiding the area near the Tidal Basin, particularly Independence Ave. SW, Maine Avenue.
The following Twitter handles could be useful to follow this weekend:
@Metrorailinfo - Real-time information on schedule changes and delays on the rail system.
@NationalMallNPS - From the National Park Service, offering details on the Cherry Blossoms and activity near the mall.
@CherryBlossFest - Official account of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
@DCPoliceDept - Metropolitan Police Department, offering public safety information and new details on road closures.
@DDOTDC - District Department of Transportation.
OK, that about covers it. If you come into the District this weekend, be patient, be friendly, and everything will go smoothly. The good news is that the weather is expected to be clear (but with temperatures in the 40s, perhaps a little cold for our visitors from Florida).