The Capitol Police has an unusual obstacle to contend with Thursday as the department secures the grounds for President Barack Obama’s jobs speech: traffic.
A joint session of Congress will be held at 7 p.m. for the speech. That’s about two hours earlier than normal for such presidential addresses, according to a Capitol Police spokeswoman, which means closures will start earlier — just as commuters hit the roads.
“That’s smack in the middle of rush hour,” Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said. “We need to make sure we start earlier.”
Before Obama’s State of the Union address in January, Capitol Square was closed to unauthorized pedestrians at 6 p.m. and streets were blocked an hour later. On Thursday, the square will close at 4 p.m. and the streets an hour later.
In an attempt to reduce traffic in the area and buy more time for preparations, the department will close the Capitol Visitor Center to tours at 11 a.m. Police will also begin to reroute tour buses on the west side of the Capitol at that time. The buses will be directed to travel along Third Street instead of First Street.
Tours will return to the normal schedule at 9 a.m. Friday.
The following streets will be closed for the event starting at 5 p.m. They will reopen after the speech, although no specific time has been set.
North Side of Capitol Square
• D Street Northeast between Second Street Northeast and Louisiana Avenue Northwest
• C Street Northeast between Second Street Northeast and Louisiana Avenue Northwest
• Constitution Avenue between Second Street Northeast and Louisiana Avenue Northwest
• Delaware Avenue between Columbus Circle and Constitution Avenue Northeast
• New Jersey Avenue Northeast between Louisiana Avenue and D Street Northeast
• Pennsylvania Avenue between First Street Northwest and Third Street Northwest
• East Capitol Street between Second Street and First Street
• First Street between Columbus Circle Northeast and C Street Southeast
• First Street between Louisiana Avenue Northwest and Washington Avenue Southwest
South Side of Capitol Square
• Maryland Avenue Southwest between First Street Southwest and Third Street Southwest
• Independence Avenue between Second Street Southeast and Washington Avenue Southwest
• C Street between First Street Southeast and Washington Avenue Southwest
• Delaware Avenue between Washington Avenue Southwest and C Street Southwest
• New Jersey Avenue between Independence Avenue, and D Street Southeast
• South Capitol Street between Independence Avenue and D Street
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.