Arlington, VA

(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.

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Morning Notes

Rolling Thunder to Coming to a Stop — The 2019 Rolling Thunder rally will be the group’s last Memorial Day rally in the D.C. area, organizers say. The rally has brought thousands of bikers, along with road closures and motorcycle noise, to Arlington over the past three decades. [Washington Post]

The Gritty Pre-History of Crystal City — “Before development flourished (the entrepreneurs offered bargain rates to federal agencies), the area ‘was a conglomeration of places that sold junk, used tires, a drive-in movie theater, a run-down ice skating rink, second-hand materials — it was very unattractive…’ The industrial area leading to the Potomac Yard railway tracks for decades was bordered by sketchy bar-rooms of the 19th-century Jackson City and National Airport’s precursor, Hoover Field.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Seasonal Pop-Ups at Pentagon City Mall — A trio of “seasonal pop-up shops” are opening at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City: Chukulata, a sweet shop selling crepes and other treats; PolarX Ornaments, selling holiday decor and personalized ornaments; and Trunk and Drawer, which “specializes in men’s fashionable undergarments as well as sleepwear, activewear and swimwear,” per a press release.

Stepped Up DUI Enforcement Underway — “To help spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving, the Arlington County Police Department is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to get drunk drivers off the roads and help save lives during the national high-visibility enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, which runs from December 13-31, 2018.” [Arlington County]

JBG Buying More Sites in ‘National Landing’ — “JBG Smith Properties has reached a deal to buy a development site across from Virginia Tech’s planned innovation campus in Alexandria, part of a larger strategy to acquire land in and around the National Landing area that includes Amazon.com Inc.’s new headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Old Town Getting Left Behind? — “The old guard of Alexandria, mainly in Old Town, has for decades wielded a sort of NIMBY clout and deployed ample financial resources to fight projects. The plans to activate Alexandria’s 8.6-acre waterfront were delayed for years due to community pushback and legal challenges… But fears that Alexandria will be left behind as competition intensifies with flashier destinations such as National Harbor and The Wharf are spurring change.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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It’s Memorial Day weekend, which means that it is also Rolling Thunder weekend here in the D.C. area.

Thousands of bikers are expected to stream into the area over the next couple of days. The event, intended to raise awareness of American service members who were prisoners of war or remain missing in action, is prompting a number of road closures in Arlington.

The first of the planned closures is on 23rd Street S. between S. Eads and Fern streets. Starting today and running through Sunday, the Crystal City Sports Pub and Crystal City BID are hosting a free outdoor concert series dubbed “Crystal City Thunder,” from 4-8 p.m. each night.

More from the Arlington County Police Department:

Motorists using S. 23rd Street can detour around the closure by using S. 22nd Street (one block north of S. 23rd Street) via S. Eads Street or S. Fern Street, depending on their direction of travel.

Parking will also be restricted in the same location from 3:00 PM Friday afternoon until 9:00 PM Sunday night, except for motorcycles.  Motorcyclists are encouraged to back their cycle to the curb and line up in an orderly fashion to maximize the space.  Vehicles in violation will be subject to tow. If you are towed from a public street, call the Emergency Communication Center at 703-558-2222.

Barrels and other traffic management equipment will be deployed in the area.  Motorists are reminded to follow police direction and be aware of the extra motorcycle traffic associated with this event and the Rolling Thunder Rally.

The police department is also warning of “severe” traffic impacts from a temporary closure of eastbound I-66 Saturday morning, “to allow veterans of the Vietnam War to travel to the Arlington National Cemetery.”

The Arlington County Police Department is informing the public that traffic on I-66 Eastbound on Saturday, May 26, 2018 from 8:15 a.m. to approximately 9:30 a.m. will be severely impacted by temporary closures to allow veterans of the Vietnam War to travel to the Arlington National Cemetery. Route 110 southbound and Washington Boulevard (Route 27) near Columbia Pike will also incur temporary traffic disruptions.

In addition, between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., traffic in the Crystal City area may experience delays as another veterans’ group is escorted through the area.

On Sunday, Washington Blvd and the Memorial Bridge will be closed to traffic for the Rolling Thunder Rally. More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department and Virginia State Police will close part of Washington Boulevard near the Pentagon on Sunday, May 27, 2018, for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally.  From 7:00 a.m. to approximately 4:00 p.m., Washington Blvd. (Route 27) will be closed from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge.

In addition, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.

Motorists should expect large numbers of motorcyclists in Northern Virginia and the entire Washington Metropolitan area during the Memorial Day weekend.

For questions or concerns, please contact Lieutenant Steve Meincke at 703-228-4148.

AAA Mid-Atlantic, meanwhile, is reminding drivers to keep an eye out for motorcyclists during the event.

During the Memorial Day holiday weekend, waves of motorcyclists, as far as the eye can see, will participate in the annual Rolling Thunder procession to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.   As a result, “motorists could encounter possible delays if operating in the vicinity of this event and may wish to consider alternative routes,” warns the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). With an upturn in motorcyclists in the region this weekend, area motorists should know how to detect and respond to so many bikers sharing the road, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic. For safety’s sake, motorists should also listen for the sound of motorcycles approaching in blind spots during Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom XXX.

Tragically, “motorcyclists are overrepresented in crashes and fatalities,” highway safety advocates warn.  Advocates point the finger of blame at the rising age of motorcyclists, traffic congestion, and distracted driving as overarching factors in the number of roadway deaths of motorcyclists. Other factors include alcohol impairment and recreational marijuana and drug impairment.  “In 2016, one-quarter of motorcyclists who died had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit, the highest percentage of any vehicle type,” according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). “Data suggest that trend continued in 2017.”

“Across the nation and around the Washington metro area, motorcyclists are disproportionately vulnerable to losing their lives and limbs in traffic crashes,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Although the average motorcyclist rides his or her bike between 3,000 to 6,000 miles per year, motorcycle riders and passengers are ‘about 27 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash, and six times as likely to be injured,’ research shows.”

Watch out for motorcyclists during Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom XXX. Motorcycle fatalities soared to the highest level in a decade in Virginia during 2017, according to Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) data. All told, 107 motorcyclists lost their lives in crashes on Virginia roads in 2017, as motorcycle fatalities increased nearly 50 percent over 2016, when 72 motorcyclists died in motorcycle-related crashes across Virginia, according to the 2017 Virginia Traffic Crash Facts report. Of the 1,794 motorcycle riders injured in crashes in 2017, almost half, 830 bikers or 46.2 percent, were age 41 or above. Motorcycle crashes comprised 1.7 percent of all traffic crashes in the state, but 12.7 percent all fatalities.

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

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Thousands of motorcyclists are gearing up for the 31st edition of the annual “Rolling Thunder” ride through Arlington and D.C. in a few weeks.

Bikers with the veterans group are scheduled to gather in Arlington once more this Memorial Day weekend, May 25-27. The Rolling Thunder headquarters is again set for the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, with events planned throughout the weekend.

On Friday, May 25, riders will roll into town and then gather for a “Blessing of the Bikes” at the National Cathedral and a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Sunday, May 27 will feature the main event, as bikers convene in the Pentagon parking lots early that morning before riding across the Memorial Bridge into D.C. for a rally, which will include speakers and musical performances around the Reflecting Pool. Country artist Rockie Lynne is set to headline the concert.

The group’s mission is to raise awareness about American prisoners of war and service members who remain missing in action, according to the Rolling Thunder website.

Anyone looking to celebrate Rolling Thunder’s arrival can also gather for free outdoor concerts hosted by the Crystal City Sports Pub for the entire weekend.

Come celebrate Memorial Day weekend and Rolling Thunder on 23rd Street! We’ll have live music, cold beer and good food all weekend from 4-8pm on Friday, Saturday AND Sunday.

The legendary Roadducks will be jamming all weekend, so come by for a bit, or party for three days straight. Either way, a good time will be had by all!

This outdoor event is FREE to attend and there will be a cash bar and food available for purchase.

Location: 536 23rd St. S (the parking lot across from the Crystal City Sports Pub)

Rolling Thunder typically causes road closures around Arlington the day of the main rally, not to mention the occasional noise complaint from neighbors. County police have yet to release exact details on the changes in traffic patterns.

Flickr pool photo by Michelle Dupray

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The annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally rumbled into town late last week and has departed.

The Memorial Day weekend tradition, which is intended to honor military veterans and bring attention to the plight of those killed and missing in action, calls Arlington home. Its headquarters is at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City and its main rally point is the Pentagon parking lot.

While many appreciate the overall purpose of the event, others in Arlington do not love the noise that Rolling Thunder brings. Some living along I-395, I-66, Route 1 and other highways and main roads describe three nights of lost sleep, amid the constant rumble and roar of excessively loud motorcycle engines.

What do you think?

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Thousands of motorcycle riders are set to descend again on Arlington and D.C. for the annual Memorial Day weekend Rolling Thunder rally.

The bikers are scheduled to arrive next Friday, May 26, with many gathering around the event’s headquarters at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in the afternoon before a “Blessing of the Bikes” at the National Cathedral and a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

On Saturday the bikers will depart Crystal City around 10 a.m. and head to a free barbecue at a Harley-Davidson dealer in Fort Washington, Maryland. A wreath laying is also planned at the Navy Memorial in D.C. later that morning.

On Sunday, the group will gather en masse in the Pentagon parking lots before riding across the Memorial Bridge into D.C. for Rolling Thunder’s main event, which will include speakers and musical performances around the Reflecting Pool. Among those expected to perform is country artist Billy Ray Cyrus.

This is the 30th year of Rolling Thunder, which was founded to bring attention to plight of military service members missing or imprisoned during the Vietnam War.

From the group’s website: “[We] are united in the cause to bring full accountability for the Prisoners Of War-Missing In Action (POW/MIA) of all wars, reminding the government, the media and the public by our watchwords: ‘We Will Not Forget.'”

A number of road closures are expected on Sunday to accommodate the bikers. Though the event has largely gone off without a hitch over the past few years, some Arlington residents have complained about the frequent rumble of motorcycles that one can hear around highways and some main roads throughout the weekend.

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Police motorcycle officers / motorcade on I-395 on 5/13/16 (file photo)

Motorcades for groups of Vietnam War veterans will result in rolling highway closures and potential traffic tie-ups Memorial Day weekend.

The Arlington County Police Department announced Monday that there will be temporary closures on I-66 eastbound on Saturday, May 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The closures are in place to allow Vietnam War veterans to travel to Arlington National Cemetery.

Other roads to be affected by the motorcades include Route 110 southbound and Washington Blvd near Columbia Pike, according to police.

Also, traffic in and around Crystal City is expected to experience delays between 12:30 p.m and 1:30 p.m due to police escorts for another veterans group through the area.

Memorial Day weekend will also bring traffic disruptions on Friday and Sunday due to the 29th annual Rolling Thunder ride, which is separate from the Saturday veterans event. Starting Sunday morning a Rolling Thunder rally will be held at the Pentagon parking lot. That will be followed by a noon departure across the Memorial Bridge and into D.C., before another gathering near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally at the Pentagon (Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin)The return of thousands of motorcyclists to the area for the annual Rolling Thunder ride is just three weeks away.

The 29th annual Rolling Thunder will rumble into town on Friday, May 27. As in previous years, residents who live along I-395, Route 1 and other local highways can expect to hear what one might term the “sound of freedom” throughout much of the weekend.

Rolling Thunder will again have its base of operations at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Crystal City. If you’re heading to Chili’s for dinner, you’ll potentially be competing for street parking and tables with hundreds of bikers.

The main Rolling Thunder event will happen on Sunday morning, when the bikers will gather in the Pentagon parking lot from 7 a.m. to noon, before departing en masse across the Memorial Bridge to the area around the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C.

Rolling Thunder “pays homage to the nation’s veterans, particularly those still Prisoner of War/Missing in Action from all wars.” While the organization primarily exists to support veteran’s and POW/MIA causes, regardless of politics, it has recently posted some overtly political messages to its website.

“We pray for a new administration in 2016 that will follow the Constitution of the United States and worry about America, our people and our troops first,” said the organization’s National Executive Director and National President, in a letter to members. “Why can’t we let these foreign countries fight their own wars? This administration keeps getting us deeper and deeper in the war against Islam.”

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

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Rolling Thunder (Flickr pool photo by Michelle Dupray)

The annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally will rumble through Arlington starting today.

The Memorial Day weekend event will begin with the expected arrival of thousands of motorcyclists this afternoon, many of whom will be arriving via I-66. Authorities are warning drivers to expect delays on eastbound I-66 between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m.

The Hyatt Regency in Crystal City will serve as the hotel headquarters for the event, which according to organizers attracts some 900,000 bikers to the nation’s capital. The expected arrival time at the hotel is 3:00 p.m., according to a weekend schedule.

Arlington residents who live along the Route 1 corridor should, as usual, expect plenty of motorcycle noise throughout the weekend.

Aside from activity around the hotel, no Rolling Thunder events are planned in Arlington on Saturday. On Sunday, starting at 7:00 a.m., participants will gather at the Pentagon north and south parking lots for a large rally, which this year will include food trucks.

From the Pentagon, the bikers will depart for a rally on the National Mall, featuring various speakers and musical tributes, at noon.

To accommodate the large expected crowds, Arlington County and Virginia State Police will close Washington Blvd between I-395 and the Memorial Bridge from about 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.

“In addition, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110,” ACPD said in a press release. “Motorists should expect large numbers of motorcyclists in Northern Virginia and the entire Washington Metropolitan area this weekend.”

Flickr pool photo by Michelle Dupray

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Rolling Thunder rider in Crystal CityThe annual Memorial Day weekend motorcycle rally known as Rolling Thunder will begin arriving in Arlington on Friday afternoon.

As in years past, residents who live along I-395 and Route 1 can expect to hear the almighty roar of motorcycle engines as thousands of bikers from across the country make their way to hotels in and around Arlington. The rally’s official headquarters hotel is the Hyatt Regency at 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway in Crystal City.

According to the event’s official schedule, Rolling Thunder participants are expected to arrive at the hotel around 3:00 p.m. Friday.

Various Rolling Thunder events are planned around the D.C. area throughout the weekend, including a barbeque at a Harley-Davidson dealership in Maryland on Saturday and a speakers program at the Reflecting Pool on Saturday afternoon.

Also planned is a large rally in the Pentagon parking lot from 7:00 a.m. to noon on Sunday. Police will be shutting down part of Washington Boulevard to accommodate the rally.

From an Arlington County Police Department press release:

The Arlington County Police Department and Virginia State Police will close part of Washington Boulevard near the Pentagon on Sunday, May 25, 2014, for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally. From 7:00 a.m. to approximately 4:00 p.m., Washington Boulevard (Route 27) will be closed from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge.

In addition, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.

Motorists should expect large numbers of motorcyclists in Northern Virginia and the entire Washington Metropolitan area this weekend.

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Rolling Thunder rally in the Pentagon north parking lot (file photo)

(Updated on 5/24/13) The annual motorcycle rally known as Rolling Thunder will rumble into Arlington tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.

As in previous years, residents who live along I-395 and Route 1 can expect to hear the roar of motorcycle engines as hundreds of bikers make their way to the rally’s official hotel, the Hyatt Regency at 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway in Crystal City.

According to the event’s official schedule, Rolling Thunder participants are expected to arrive at the hotel around 3:00 p.m. Friday.

Also on the event’s Memorial Day weekend agenda: a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C. at 9:00 p.m. Friday, music and speakers at the Reflecting Pool from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, and a rally in the Pentagon parking lot from 7:00 a.m. to noon on Sunday.

Drivers can expect some road closures around the Pentagon on Sunday morning as a result of the rally. From Arlington County:

The Arlington County Police Department will close part of Washington Boulevard near the Pentagon on Sunday, May 26, 2013, for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally. From 7:00 a.m. to approximately 4:00 p.m., Washington Blvd. (Route 27) will be closed from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge.

In addition, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.

Motorists should expect large numbers of motorcyclists in Northern Virginia and the entire Washington Metropolitan area this weekend.

Rolling Thunder is now in its 26th year.

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