- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 30, 2001

Residents of the Washington area will have to get used to new inconveniences as the nation tightens security measures for the long haul.
More stringent security and identification checks will become the norm at military and government buildings in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Government and other workers also can expect more drills to prepare them for orderly evacuation during an emergency.
State police and federal inspectors are stopping and inspecting trucks carrying hazardous cargo amid concerns that such vehicles could be used by terrorists. The spot inspections likely will continue as the nation's war against global terrorism proceeds.
In the wake of the attacks, area commuters re-evaluated their routes to work as military installations and other government buildings stepped up security precautions.
The question now is how much of the new routine is permanent.
"There's potential for our political climate and security measures to change in a year, and you'd hope if we maintain this level of security we would find ways to better accommodate it either through moving checkpoints or expanding turn lanes, or even something as simple as adjusting traffic lights," says Justin McNaull, spokesman for the American Automobile Association's Mid-Atlantic chapter.
D.C. officials say parking spaces in the city will continue to be harder to find for residents, commuters and tourists. Parking attendants as well as police officers have been instructed to keep a closer eye on suspicious cars or individuals parked in front of public buildings.
Some things are certain more folks will try telecommuting, others will try mass transit.
Uniformed and plainclothes officers of the Metro Transit Police are making more rounds of the area transit system's 83 rail stations as well as trains and buses.
Officers and other Metro employees monitor surveillance cameras in the stations; the transit system will spend $2.3 million to attach digital video recorders to the cameras.
Sensors in some Metro stations are designed to detect chemical or biological agents, and transit officials are talking about expanding the pilot program in light of the terrorist attacks. The sensors, in place since 1999, are part of a $17 million, five-year program in association with the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Justice.
The transit system has taken other security measures, Metro spokesman Ray Feldmann says, but "frankly, those are things we'd rather not talk about and can't talk about."
As yet there are no plans to make Metro riders pass through metal detectors, or to search their bags. But transit officials will seek $20 million from the federal government for improved security gear, which could include bomb-detection or X-ray devices.
Tightening of security at public schools also is in the cards, Maryland Schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick says.
"Our schools have been very open to the public. Parents and community members have had pretty broad access with no ID checks or anything like that," Mrs. Grasmick says. "But we are going to have to be more careful now about who comes to our schools."
In the kind of long, drawn-out war on terrorism described by President Bush, schoolchildren also may need more mental health counseling, she says, some of which could be provided by trained teachers.
The cost of such changes would be covered in part by federal funds allocated to schools for spending related to the attacks. Maryland received $250,000.
Virginia has yet to draw up detailed plans for spending $500,000 in federal education funds.
"It takes time to fully comprehend something like this," says Kirk T. Schroeder, chairman of the Virginia Board of Education.
Fairfax County school officials, content with security, are reviewing crisis-management plans with police and fire departments. Extra security officers have been deployed indefinitely at D.C. schools near federal buildings.
"The impact of the attacks is immeasurable," says Wilma Bonner, assistant superintendent for D.C. high schools. "Students will become more vigilant about their surroundings and parents will be more concerned about their safety."
Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said Friday that he or the president this week will announce the reopening of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport with more stringent security procedures in place. But White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said no decision had been made.
Washington Dulles International Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Airport were operating under tighter security at 85 percent of regular flight schedules as of Friday. But some of that business includes passengers who otherwise would fly out of Reagan Airport, the only airport in the nation to be closed since Sept. 11.
In an unexpected development, a federal task force is leaning toward recommending the gradual reopening of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, congressional sources said Friday. President Clinton ordered the stretch of the avenue closed to vehicular traffic at the insistence of the Secret Service after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
At Union Station, motorists can drive into the parking garage only from the rear entrance on H Street. Amtrak police shut down the front entrance and cab stands in front of the building, fearing truck bombs.
As long as security is tighter and commute times longer, more commuters will share trains on Virginia's and Maryland's light-rail systems. But other than increased police patrols, riders won't notice much difference.
Leo J. Bevon, director of Virginia's Department of Rail and Public Transportation, says the agency just doesn't view trains as a big terrorist target. "You can't do much with it if you do hijack it," he says.
Chris Baker and Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.


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