(Updated at 10:50 p.m.) The annual Rolling Thunder rally is coming to an end, but first a final big motorcycle gathering is planned this weekend.
Locals have a love-hate relationship with Rolling Thunder, which means increased traffic and noise along local roads and highways, plus road closures and other disruptions over Memorial Day weekend. In an ARLnow poll, however, most people said they either enjoy or do not mind the rally.
Rolling Thunder — which helps bring attention to American military Prisoners of War, Missing in Action and veterans issues — has for years used the Hyatt Regency hotel in Crystal City as its home base over the weekend. Bikers typically start to arrive on Friday before departing on Monday.
As in the past, this year’s schedule of events includes a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Friday and the main event — a rally in the Pentagon parking lot — on Sunday. During the day, the bikers hang out on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial.
A number of road closure are planned around the Pentagon for the Sunday rally. Per Arlington County Police:
The following closures will be implemented from 7:00 a.m. until approximately 4:00 p.m.:
- Washington Blvd. (Route 27) will be closed from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge.
- Route 110 southbound from Iwo Jima to I-395 will be opening and closing intermittently
- I-395 North Exit 8B will be CLOSED
In addition, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.
ACPD says drivers should also expect numerous rolling road closures Saturday for a separate veterans motorcycle ride and memorial service.
The Arlington County Police Department will implement multiple road closures on Saturday, May 25, 2019, resulting in traffic disruptions, to accommodate escorts of Vietnam veterans groups.
- From approximately 7:50 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., I-66 Eastbound will be closed at N. Sycamore Street to allow police to escort 400 veterans of the Vietnam War to travel by motorcycle to Arlington National Cemetery. The escort will proceed east on I-66, south on Route 110, west on Washington Boulevard and exit onto Columbia Pike to Southgate Road. Significant travel delays can be expected along this route during this time period.
- From 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., traffic in the Crystal City area may experience delays as another veterans group is escorted through the area.
Motorists should expect large numbers of motorcyclists in Northern Virginia and the entire Washington Metropolitan area throughout the weekend.
The Rolling Thunder organization says its mission will continue despite the annual event coming to an end.
“The organization will continue to bring awareness to the public, in years to come, with regional demonstrations,” Rolling Thunder said in a press release.
Less than 7 days out! Got your scooter all squared away? pic.twitter.com/Z3RIWxjpIP
— Rolling Thunder DC (@RTWashDC) May 19, 2019