- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2006

The National Park Service will accept suggestions for another month on how to improve and preserve the Mall and its memorials without hurting the environment.

The Park Service has received at least 1,386 suggestions from the public, agencies, professional organizations and park sponsors since it opened the comment period last month. The process will continue through Jan. 5.

Most who have submitted suggestions oppose the removal of parking sites and increased parking costs, including additional parking meters.

One suggested the installation of bicycle racks on the Mall and on buses, and seasonal bike tours led by park rangers. Another recommended an increase of transit stops, more frequent transit runs and improved access for the disabled.

“We want to provide access for all users throughout the Mall,” Vikki Keys, superintendent of National Mall & Memorial Parks, said yesterday during a Park Service meeting at the Old Post Office Tower in Northwest .

About 16 million people visited the Mall and its memorials last year, officials said.

Plans are to accommodate D.C. traffic, which trails only Los Angeles and San Francisco as the nation’s most congested, according to the Park Service report.

Changes are likely to include transit stops within walking distance to memorials and museums and improved information about parking and transit availability.

Parking around the Mall would be discouraged. Reasonable fees, it is thought, would encourage parking at lots and garages near Metro and transit stations.

The Park Service will issue a report on an 18-month environmental study and proposed improvements to enhance the Mall and its memorials a couple of months after the comment period is completed.

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