- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 13, 2001

Truckers familiar with Capitol Hill made deliveries to restaurants and retail stores there yesterday by avoiding restricted areas cordoned off by U.S. Capitol Police. But, many out-of-town truckers, unable to find alternative routes, never showed up leaving restaurateurs piping hot.
Capitol Police shut down the area around the U.S. Capitol to trucks and tour buses on Wednesday, concerned that large trucks could be hijacked by terrorists, packed with heavy explosives and detonated near federal buildings.
Marjorie Tuttle, owner of Art & Soul, a women's boutique at 225 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, said her sales have declined since the streets on Capitol Hill were closed.
"I've definitely seen a decline in business in terms of the tourists and out-of-town clients. We have a lot of clients who live in Virginia and Maryland who aren't driving to the Hill," Miss Tuttle said. "Just today, a clothing representative canceled her appointment with me because she's afraid to come to the Hill."
Residents criticized the restrictions as a rush to judgment, saying the Capitol Police lacked a formalized plan and did not contact the community beforehand. Merchants and residents said the road-access restrictions are a nightmare.
Bruce Robey, vice president of the Capitol Hill Association of Merchants and Professionals, said he has received complaints about missed deliveries and trucks clogging narrow streets.
He said he has not seen a road sign announcing detours, but he did see officers passing out 81/2-by-11-inch road maps to truckers being rerouted.
"What happens is truckers roll up, and if they are not given an alternate route or can't decipher the maps, they move on to the next delivery," Mr. Robey said. "Why are we forcing truckers to find alternate routes? I think this is a terrible idea, promoting more of the 'ground zero' D.C. is an unsafe place to be."
Another problem for merchants is rumors. Some customers are spreading word that the entire area is shut down, discouraging would-be consumers from the areas.
Miss Tuttle said "rumors like 'I hear I can't get around on the Hill' or 'I hear that Pennsylvania and Independence avenues are closed'" are a few of the stories she has heard from patrons.
Capitol Police have closed the areas between Second Street NE and NW on Constitution Avenue and Second Street SW and SE between Independence Avenue, D Street NE, and Massachusetts Avenue NE to all tractor-trailers, buses (except for Metrobuses and TourMobiles), recreational vehicles and large converted vans. All roads within those boundaries and those adjacent to them are also restricted.
Delivery trucks that need to go inside the boundaries will be screened at a police inspection station in the unit block of P Street SE, said Capitol Police Lt. Dan Nichols. Louisiana, Constitution, Pennsylvania and Independence avenues also will be subject to the restrictions.
For average motorists, the road restrictions in the Federal Enclave, almost 50 blocks surrounding the Capitol and the House and Senate office buildings, have not been affected by the detours.
Justin McNaull, spokesman for AAA's Mid-Atlantic Region, said he hasn't received any complaints about the restrictions.
"Commuters understand the safety issue as a valid one," he said. "Most of them avoid the area by listening to radio traffic reports; so they are not complaining, but truckers most likely do not."
Another issue is heavy vehicles traveling on the residential streets of Capitol Hill.
"My immediate concern is the diversion of truck traffic into residential areas as the result of the restrictions, specifically on Independence Avenue," said Capitol Hill resident Ken Jarboe.
Bonnie Ryan, daytime manager of Tune Inn, a restaurant and bar on Pennsylvania Avenue SE, said she has seen a decrease in folks coming in.
Barricading the streets hasn't helped, she added.

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