A motorcycle ride through Western Maryland and Northern Virginia commemorating 9/11 is expected to cause major traffic delays Friday and Saturday, state officials say.
Motorists are being advised to stay off roads or seek alternate routes as about 2,500 vehicles — including 1,800 motorcycles — are expected to make their way Friday from Cumberland, Md., to Arlington before heading back through Maryland on Saturday on their way to New York City.
The group of riders could stretch as much as 15 miles in length, according the Maryland State Highway Administration, and will make its way from Cumberland to Arlington between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday. Police will close most ramps along the route during that period.
"It's going to have a significant impact," said Lt. James E. DeFord, a Virginia State Police spokesman. "We want motorists to be patient and be aware that this is coming through. We'll get them out of the way as fast as we can."
The 10th annual ride, organized by America's 911 Foundation Inc., is scheduled to pass the sites in Pennsylvania, at the Pentagon in Arlington and in New York where planes crashed on Sept. 11, 2001.
Riders are expected to arrive in Cumberland between 8 and 8:30 a.m. Friday, and will then take Interstates 68 and 70 about 70 miles east to Hagerstown, arriving before 11 a.m.
After a midday break, they are expected to depart at 1 p.m., taking U.S. Route 15 south to Leesburg, Va., before traveling the Dulles Greenway to Arlington, where they are scheduled to arrive at about 3 p.m.
The group will then depart at 7 a.m. Saturday — after a memorial service at the Pentagon — traveling Interstate 395 to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, before passing through Baltimore's Fort McHenry Tunnel and Interstate 95 on its way to New York.
In addition to organizing the ride, America's 911 Foundation funds a scholarship program for children of active first responders and raises money and provides assistance for emergency-response departments and employees.
The group posted a message on its website this week asking those caught in traffic during the ride to "remember that you are still here" and "please take this time to reflect" on the lives lost on Sept. 11.
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