- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Capitol Hill residents and community leaders are angry over the sudden road restrictions made by federal authorities to protect the federal enclave, which they say have made as many as 11 of their neighborhood streets more dangerous.
Eighteen-wheelers, diverted from their normal routes, now rumble through Capitol Hill’s narrow streets, said Ward 6 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kenan Jarboe, with trucks jumping curbs, getting stuck and reversing their course while trying to maneuver.
“In [our neighborhood], where we have large trucks trying to make impossible turns, fishing around the area, lost, and shaking foundations to old homes along the way, this is becoming an exacerbated traffic problem,” Mr. Jarboe said.
Mr. Jarboe and other ANCs in the surrounding areas all said they could have come up with a better truck-diversion plan if the Capitol Police had consulted with them ahead of time, before they took action closing their jurisdictions’ streets to trucks and tour buses on Thursday. An ANC does not have the same voting power as a City Council member, but they do enjoy legal authority under the District’s charter.
“The issue is notice; we weren’t given any,” Mr. Jarboe said.
The D.C. Department of Public Works’ Division of Transportation found out that city roads were being restricted only an hour before it happened.
There are six signs set up along Pennsylvania, Independence and Constitution avenues, South Capitol Street and Washington Avenue alerting trucks that the streets beyond the signs are off-limits, said Bill Rice, spokesman for DPW transportation division. But none of the signs has an arrow on them, telling drivers which way to go.
Mr. Rice knew from talks with the U.S. Capitol Police that road changes were in the works. But he had no idea a decision had been made until he turned on the evening news on Wednesday.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Bob Siegel, whose district is home to a lot of senior citizens with grandchildren coming to visit them, is worried about their safety because there are only six signs telling drivers where to turn to cover the 50-block, multidistrict area.
He said so few signs make “it dangerous if [truck drivers] don’t know where they’re going.”
And he said they won’t know where they should go because the signs don’t tell them.
“Traffic to 2nd Street closed to trucks,” reads one sign. The vague instructions leave it up to the driver how to bail out and take a side road through the neighborhoods.
“There are concerns about high-speed, truck traffic on our roads, while they look for the right way to go,” Mr. Siegel said.
His council member, Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6 Democrat, agrees and said none of this is the fault of Department of Public Works Director Dan Tangherlini.
“Neither [Mr. Tangherlini] nor John Koskinen, our city administrator, was given any more than an hour’s notice on the restrictions which is extraordinarily disrespectful, because they had discussed this with Capitol Police for two weeks beforehand,” Mrs. Ambrose said.
“I’m concerned, [and] I know my ANCs are concerned, but I am confident that Mr. Tangherlini will have a road plan in place sometime this week.”
Capitol Hill is not the only part of town that didn’t find out about changes in traffic patterns until the last moment.
Tony Bullock, a spokesman for D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, said several federal agency heads, including the State Department, have closed down city streets and sidewalks on their own without the authority to do so.
Streets and sidewalks around the Housing and Urban Development building and the Department of Transportation building in L’Enfant Plaza were closed for weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, he said.
In each case, the agency neither asked nor notified the city of its intentions, as required by law. Only streets around the White House, the Capitol, and the Justice Department building can be closed by federal fiat, he said.
“We are fighting for every square inch of space,” Mr. Bullock said. “These incremental closings have an impact that is very profound.”
Besides turning city streets into parking lots from the increased traffic, Mr. Bullock said, the closings hurt the city’s efforts to lure tourists and their much-needed spending.
Daniel F. Drummond contributed to this report.

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