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12/04/2012 12:31 pm ET | Updated Dec 05, 2012

National Christmas Tree Lighting 2012 Street Closures Will Cause Big Traffic Headaches On Thursday

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WASHINGTON -- While it's certainly not unusual for D.C. area drivers to complain about traffic delays and congestion, there's one day of the year that can create a moment of dread for some commuters: the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.

Typically, major commuter roadways adjacent to the Ellipse are closed to traffic during the middle of the evening rush hour, causing a ripple effect of gridlock around the White House and downtown.

This year's tree lighting ceremony, set for Thursday and hosted by award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris, will close portions of 15th and 17th streets NW from 4:15 p.m. to 7 p.m.

15th Street will be closed between Constitution Avenue and E Street/Pennsylvania Avenue. 17th Street will be closed between Constitution Avenue and New York Avenue. Both routes are used by thousands of Virginia-bound commuters trying to reach the 14th Street, Arlington Memorial and Theodore Roosevelt bridges during the evening rush hour.

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