- The Washington Times - Monday, April 2, 2001

A Bush-appointed task force studying the reopening of Pennsylvania Avenue has several proposals on its table. While a few, including the Rand Corp.s, should be stamped "favored status," one or two others should be immediately tossed into the to-be-shredded basket. Permanently banning Pennsylvania Avenue to vehicular traffic is not an option.

Under advisement from the Secret Service, Bill Clinton barricaded two blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Ever since, the area has looked more like "something behind the Iron Curtain," as Sen. Rod Grams aptly described it, than a testament to the open society for which the White House stands. For that reason alone the avenue must be reopened (although there are economic and traffic nightmares to boot).

The Rand report, which was submitted last year, acutely addresses security measures and also incorporates a pedestrian archway and "Jefferson´s Bow" which curves the avenue away from the White House and toward the hugely popular Lafayette Park. That proposal is favored by the Federal City Council (FCC), whose chairman is former Sen. Bob Dole.

Of course, the National Park Service threw its biased two-cents worth out there some time ago. Yet you really can´t call what the park service put together a "proposal," because what those men and women did was merely rubber stamp the leave-it-closed sentiment of their Secret Service brothers and sisters who no more want two-footers close to the White House than 18-wheelers (or four-wheelers, for that matter). Accordingly, Bill Clinton´s National Park Service came up with a wildly expensive pitch to beautify Lafayette Park and keep the avenue closed.

The task force has a few more months before President Bush expects recommendations that support reopening Pennsylvania Avenue, and other proposals will surely come its way. The park service plan, however, is not worthy of their company. To be sure, the only thing worse than wasting tax dollars on the National Park Service´s silly notion (and indeed a Bush White House endorsing a Bill Clinton gesture) is the fact that the park honchos would permanently close Pennsylvania Avenue to vehicular traffic.

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