- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2001

Everyone in authority keeps telling us we're not supposed to "give in" to terrorism yet that seems to be precisely what we're doing, at least as regards the terrible idea of indefinitely closing sections of Constitution and Independence avenues around the U.S. Capitol.

A special task force is weighing closings that would block off Constitution Avenue between First Street NW and NE, and Independence Avenue between First Street SE and SW effectively sealing two of downtown Washington's major east-west arteries.

All of this is being proposed to "increase security," but the practical effect would be to turn greater downtown Washington into a fortified bunker of sorts. Pennsylvania Avenue north of the White House has been closed to vehicle traffic since 1995, while E Street south of the White House has been shut down since Sept. 11. There are concrete and law-enforcement barricades at Union Station and random street closings throughout the city.

If this is not "giving in" to terrorism living in cringing dread of attack then what is?

Closing these sections of Constitution and Independence avenues would have dire consequences for an already paralytic traffic situation downtown. Estimates suggest that the proposed closures would divert some 25,000 vehicles daily from Independence Avenue and another 13,000 from Constitution. But the raw numbers cannot convey the magnitude of the gridlock that would occur.

As Ohio Rep. Robert Ney, chairman of the House Administration Committee, said last week: "The Capitol is the people's house. The speaker wants to keep it that way. So do I and other members." Surely, addressing security concerns is an important matter, but let's find a better way to keep our streets safe and open, too.

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