Pope Francis

Road closures, transit changes and extra security are set to arrive in the Capitol Hill area this week when Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the District.

Locals near Capitol Hill are expected to feel the effects of the pope’s visit most strongly on Thursday, when he is slated to speak to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol.

Here’s how his trip will affect the Capitol Hill area:

U.S. Capitol Visit

  • A ticketed event is scheduled to view a live video feed of the pope’s 10 a.m. address to Congress from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Attendees also might catch a glimpse of Francis outside, but should check the list of prohibited items.
  • No public, non-ticketed viewing areas are available on the U.S. Capitol grounds or the National Mall.
  • The U.S. Capitol will close to the public at 5 p.m. Tuesday and remain closed for the duration of the pope’s visit.

Street Closures

  • All streets within a three-block radius of the U.S. Capitol will be closed from midnight to noon on Thursday.
  • Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 3rd and 1st streets NW and Maryland Avenue SW between 1st and 3rd streets SW will both be closed from 5 p.m. Wednesday to 4 p.m. Thursday.
  • Louisiana Avenue NW between Columbus Circle and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington Avenue SW between South Capitol Street and Independence Avenue SW, and East Capitol Street between 2nd and 1st streets SE and NE will be closed between midnight and 4 p.m. Thursday.


  • Metro will increase service during afternoons and evenings. Metro does not have the capacity to increase service during rush hours and expects trains to be very crowded at those times.
  • Bicycles and large coolers won’t be allowed on Metro trains Wednesday or Thursday.
  • Bags, packages and containers may be searched at Metro stations.
  • There is no scheduled track work on any lines during the pope’s visit.
  • Updated information will be made available online.


  • D3 bus will not operate on Wednesday or Thursday.
  • X2 will not go further downtown than Gallery Place from 10:30 p.m. Tuesday to 2 p.m. Thursday.
  • 30N and 30S will not run between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle from 10:30 p.m. Tuesday to 2 p.m. Wednesday.
  • 32 and 36 only will operate from Southeast to 12th Street NW and Constitution Avenue NW from 10:30 p.m. Tuesday to 2 p.m. Wednesday.
  • 39 only will operate between Naylor Road and 6th Street NW and Constitution Avenue NW.
  • A9, P17, P19 and W13 only will run between Southeast D.C. and L’Enfant Plaza.
  • X1 only will operate between Benning Road NE and 6th Street NW and Constitution Avenue NW.

D.C. Circulator

  • The National Mall route will not operate at all on Wednesday or Thursday.
  • Buses on the Union Station-Navy Yard route will detour to avoid road closures near the Capitol. Buses going to Navy Yard will take Massachusetts Avenue NW to 4th Street NW to Pennsylvania Avenue SW, where it will resume its normal route. Buses going to Union Station will take Pennsylvania Avenue SW to 6th Street SW to Massachusetts Avenue NW, where it will resume its normal route.
  • Buses on the Georgetown-Union Station, Potomac Avenue-Skyland and Union Station-Navy Yard routes will all operate every 15 minutes from noon to the end of the day Wednesday.

Public Works

  • Street sweeping has been suspended on Wednesday and Thursday on the 200 block of East Capitol Street and the 200 to 300 blocks of Massachusetts Avenue NE.
  • All other parking restrictions and street sweeping schedules will be enforced as usual.


  • D.C. public schools all will be open for the entirety of the Pope’s visit. But school officials warn that road closures and crowds may affect transportation to and from school and said parents can contact the Parent Resource Center at 202-576-5000 for transportation-related questions during the pope’s visit.
  • Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy will close Wednesday.
  • Center City Public Charter Schools won’t hold classes Wednesday.

Map of street closures near Union Station (Image via AlertDC)

Drivers won’t be able to travel through some parts of Capitol Hill this month as crews begin to repair area streets tonight.

Sections of D Street, E Street and Delaware Avenue NE are scheduled to close during the next four weekends, according to a D.C. government alert.

Starting at 8 p.m. today, D Street between 2nd Street and Delaware Avenue NE is slated to close to traffic. The closure will block 1st Street NE at its intersection with D Street.

D Street might open by the end of the day Saturday. But the closure could run until Sunday.

“The plan is to mill the streets Friday night into Saturday morning, pave the street on Saturday, and if there is time, stripe the street. Otherwise, the striping will occur on Sunday,” the alert said. “Once the paint is dry, the street will be reopened. If weather causes delay, work will push the schedule back a weekend.”

The other closures are expected to follow the same repair schedule during the following three weekends.

Those scheduled closures are:

D Street between 1st Street NE and Louisiana Avenue NW from Aug. 14 to 16. The closure will block Delaware Avenue NE where it intersects with D Street.

E Street between Columbus Circle and North Capitol Street NE from Aug. 21 to 23.

Image via AlertDC


First Street NE (Photo via Google Maps)Motorists and cyclists planning to travel near Union Station this weekend may need to consider a new route.

The block of First Street NE between G Street and Massachusetts Avenue NE, adjacent to Union Station, will be closed for reconstruction work this weekend, according to the District Department of Transportation.

DDOT will close both lanes on Friday from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. The closure times will repeat Saturday and Sunday nights, weather permitting.

Signs will direct motorists around the block via North Capitol Street. But drivers are advised to find alternative routes.

DDOT predicts moderate-to-heavy delays in the area.

Photos via Google Maps


U.S. Capitol Visitor Center (Photo via Wikimedia/Fletcher6)(Updated at 10:30 a.m.) The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center has reopened after a fire alarm forced officials to evacuate the building this morning.

U.S. Capitol Police and the D.C. Fire and EMS Department didn’t find any signs of a fire, Lt. Kimberly Schneider of the U.S. Capitol Police said.

The visitor center is located underneath the plaza between the U.S. Capitol and 1st Street.

The office of the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms tweeted about 9:30 a.m. that “staff should respond to assigned assembly areas.” By 10:30 a.m., staff and visitors could return to the building.

First Street, between Constitution Avenue NE and Independence Avenue SE, and East Capitol Street, between 1st and 2nd streets, were closed temporarily as authorities investigated the alarm.

Photo via Wikimedia/Fletcher6


Greater Washington Soap Box Derby (Photo via Facebook/Greater Washington Soap Box Derby)Young speed enthusiasts will race cars through Capitol Hill this weekend — with or without driver’s licenses.

The Greater Washington Soap Box Derby is slated to return Saturday for its 74th running. Constitution Avenue and First Street NW near the U.S. Capitol will close to traffic from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the race, according to U.S. Senate Parking Operations.

Children, who are 7 to 18 years old, will compete in handmade soap box cars. The race has divisions for children who are 13 years old or younger and who are at least nine years old.

The winners of the two divisions will advance to the All-American Soap Box Derby championship next month in Ohio.

It it rains Saturday, the D.C. race will happen Sunday.

Photo via Facebook/Greater Washington Soap Box Derby


Capitol Crossing constructionDrivers who use I-395, H Street NW and Massachusetts Avenue NW may need to reconsider travel near the Capitol Crossing development construction during the next two months.

Massachusetts Avenue and H Street will close between 2nd and 4th streets NW starting today, every Monday and Tuesday through July, according to the District Department of Transportation. The closures will run from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Massachusetts Avenue also will lose lanes to closures on weekends, and occasionally weekdays, through July.

“Traffic delays are very likely to occur,” DDOT said.

Drivers heading north on I-395 also won’t be able to get off at Massachusetts Avenue NW for the next two weekends.

The 2nd Street NW off-ramp of I-395 to Massachusetts Avenue will close this Saturday and Sunday and next Saturday and Sunday, according to DDOT. With access to the ramp blocked, crews will demolish a retaining wall in the area as part of the Capitol Crossing development construction.

The closures will begin at 7 a.m. each of the Saturdays and end by 5 a.m. the following Mondays.

DDOT urges drivers to exit I-395 at either D Street NW or New York Avenue NW during those times.

Drivers can expect “heavy congestion and delays” in the area, according to DDOT.

Last month, Mayor Muriel Bowser urged locals to be patient as crews work to build Capitol Crossing.

“We invite all of our neighbors and commuters to pardon the dust while we’re making progress,” she said.


Water main break on 1st Street NE

A water main break has shut down a portion of 1st Street NE near Union Station.

The northbound and southbound lanes of 1st Street between G Street and G Place NE are closed to traffic as workers fix the 8-inch water main. Crews are expected to finish repairs by 3 p.m., according to D.C. Water.

The nearby U.S. Government Publishing Office is without water service, a D.C. Water spokeswoman said. No other D.C. Water customers are affected.

The cause of the break wasn’t immediately clear.


Water main break, 2nd Street SE(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) Officials have closed a street east of the Capitol because of a water main break.

Second Street SE is closed between East Capitol Street and Independence Avenue, near the Library of Congress.

A steady stream of water was flowing there this afternoon.

A 12-inch water main burst earlier today, DC Water spokeswoman Pamela Mooring said. Repairs are set to begin at 7 p.m. and continue for six to eight hours, until as late as 3 a.m. It won’t be clear until repairs begin whether anyone’s service will be disrupted tonight or early into tomorrow morning.

The Library of Congress was open as of 2:50 p.m. and had running water.

The street closure is expected to be in effect overnight, according to the Senate Sergeant at Arms.


Capitol Hill ClassicDrivers on Capitol Hill could have a difficult time traversing the neighborhood this weekend, as runners take the streets for the Capitol Hill Classic.

The annual 10K, 3K and fun run will close several streets to traffic Sunday morning, according to the Capitol Hill Classic’s website.

Streets closed for the 10K include:

  • C Street NE from 5th Street NE to 4th Street NE.
  • Maryland Avenue NE from 4th Street NE to 2nd Street NE.
  • Constitution Avenue NE from 2nd Street NE to 1st Street NE.
  • 1st Street NE from Constitution Avenue NE to Independence Avenue SE.
  • Independence Avenue SE from 1st Street SE to 3rd Street SE.
  • 3rd Street SE from Independence Avenue SE to East Capitol Street SE.
  • East Capitol Street SE from 3rd Street SE to 22nd Street NE.
  • 22nd Street NE from East Capitol Street SE to the entrance to RFK Stadium parking lots 6 and 7.

Streets closed for the 3K include:

  • 4th Street NE from C Street NE to East Capitol Street SE.
  • East Capitol Street SE from 3rd Street NE to 12th Street NE.
  • 3rd Street NE from East Capitol Street SE to Maryland Avenue NE.
  • Maryland Avenue NE from 3rd Street NE to C Street NE.

For the fun run, 4th, 6th and N streets NE around Stanton Park will be closed.

Closures likely will start at 8 a.m. All the streets are expected to reopen by about 11:30 a.m.


Cherry blossom trees along the Tidal Basin (Photo via Facebook/National Cherry Blossom Festival)

The District’s famous cherry blossoms are expected to be in peak bloom this weekend, just in time for the annual parade and street festival scheduled for Saturday.

Experts at the National Park Service estimate the flowers will be in top form Saturday through Tuesday. The peak bloom date is when 70 percent of the Yoshino cherry blossom trees that ring the Tidal Basin are open, which varies from year to year depending on weather.

Here’s what to expect:

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade — The parade will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, on Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th streets NW. Expect floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands and a long list of performers, including DC Roller Girls and the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders. Grandstand seats cost $20 each, but spots along the parade route can be claimed for free.

Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival — The street festival will be held Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 9th and 14th streets NW. The festivities will include a sake and beer pavilion, a Japanese language station, calligraphy sessions and live music on four stages. Admission costs $10 per person and is free for children 12 and younger.

Metro — WMATA is holding off on weekend track work because of the Cherry Blossom Festival. Regular service is expected on all lines. On Sunday, the system will open two hours early, at 7 a.m. for the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run. See the Metro website for up-to-the-minute website.

Street Closures — Streets will be closed west of Ward 6 on Saturday for the parade and festival, and on Sunday for the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run. The full street closure list for the festival and parade, plus the race, can be found online.

Want to Skip the Crowds? — If you can’t make it to the Cherry Blossom Festival or would rather dodge the crowds, you can watch the blossoms 24 hours a day via webcam. Footage captured by EarthCam and the National Park Service is available online.

Want Cherry Blossom-Themed Home Goods? — A $65 cherry blossom candle can be yours, Washingtonian reports.


Race map (Photo via Competitor Group Inc.)

Capitol Hill residents might have to move their cars tomorrow if they want to access them Saturday.

Several streets in the area will be closed to traffic for the Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Marathon, half marathon and 5K.

The closures in the area start as early as 6 a.m. for the races, which begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. The marathon and half marathon start at Constitution Avenue NW and 14th Street NW and end at RFK Stadium Lot 7. The parking lot also is the start and finish for the 5K.

All the streets are scheduled to reopen by 2 p.m.

The organizers have more details on the closures in this map.

Photo via Competitor Group Inc.

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Cupid's Undie Run (Photo via Instagram/CupidsUndieRun)

It’s a mighty cold weekend to run around in your underwear — but that’s what participants in Cupid’s Undie Run will do.

Runners in their skivvies will race about a mile Sunday afternoon, starting on the 300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue SE. A few spots in the previously sold-out race were open as of 2:50 p.m. It costs $80 to run but is free to watch.

The 300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue SE will be closed to traffic starting about 1 p.m., police said. Streets on the following race route will be closed to traffic from about 2 to 3:30 p.m.:

  • West on Pennsylvania Avenue SE to 3rd Street SE
  • North on 3rd Street SE to Constitution Avenue NE
  • West on Constitution Avenue NE to 1st Street NE
  • South on 1st Street NE to Independence Avenue SE
  • East on Independence Avenue SE to 3rd Street SE
  • South on 3rd Street SE to Pennsylvania Avenue SE
  • East on Pennsylvania Ave SE to the finish line

The race that takes place in 38 cities in the U.S. and Australia raises money for The Children’s Tumor Foundation.

Photo via Instagram/CupidsUndieRun


Capitol Building scaffolding (Photo via Flickr/remembertobreathe)The streets surrounding the Capitol Building will be closed to cars and pedestrians tonight in preparation for President Obama’s State of the Union address.

The closures go into effect starting at 6 p.m., in advance of the speech scheduled at 9 p.m. Here’s what will be closed, according to U.S. Capitol Police:

Streets open only to authorized pedestrians starting at 6 p.m.:

  • First Street between Constitution Avenue, NW and Independence Avenue, SW
  • Independence Avenue between First Street, SW and First Street, SE
  • First Street between Independence Avenue, SE and Constitution Avenue, NE
  • Constitution Avenue between First Street, NE and First Street, NW

Streets closed to cars starting at 7 p.m.:

  • North Side of Capitol Square
  • D Street, NE between Second Street, NE & Louisiana Avenue, NW
  • C Street, NE between Second Street, NE & Louisiana Avenue, NW
  • Constitution Avenue between Second Street, NE & Louisiana Avenue, NW
  • Delaware Avenue, NE between Columbus Circle, NE & Constitution Avenue, NE
  • New Jersey Avenue, NW between Louisiana Avenue & Constitution Avenue, NW
  • Pennsylvania Avenue between First Street & Third Street, NW
  • East Capitol Street between Second Street & First Street, NE/SE
  • First Street, NE between Columbus Circle, NE & C Street, SE
  • First Street, NE between Louisiana Avenue, NW & Washington Avenue, SW
  • Second Street, NE between Constitution Avenue & East Capitol Street, NE
  • Maryland Avenue, NE between First Street & Constitution Avenue, NE
  • South Side of Capitol Square
  • Maryland Avenue, SW between First Street, & Third Street, SW
  • Independence Avenue between Second Street, SE & Washington Avenue, SW
  • C Street between First Street, SE & Washington Avenue, SW
  • Delaware Avenue, SW between Washington Avenue, SW & C Street, SW
  • New Jersey Avenue, SE between Independence Avenue & D Street, SE
  • South Capitol Street between Independence Avenue & D Street, SE/SW

The Capitol Visitor Center closes today at noon. The House Gallery will be open until 5:30 p.m. The Senate Gallery will be open until 6 p.m.

The closures will be lifted once tonight’s event is complete.

Photo via Flickr/remembertobreathe


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