- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 10, 2002

The first day of the latest traffic restrictions around the White House went smoothly yesterday, although businesses questioned whether the changes were necessary and said they would cause them problems.

Trucks are be allowed on 17th Street between Constitution Avenue and H Street NW from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., unless they have to make deliveries along that stretch. Additionally, no vehicles will be allowed to stop, stand or park on 17th Street between Pennsylvania Avenue and E Street.

The Secret Service and D.C. police began enforcing the restrictions at 6 a.m. yesterday, stopping all trucks at both ends of the restricted area. The officers checked drivers' papers and cargoes, and officers in sport utility vehicles and on bicycles enforced the no-stopping zone.

"It wasn't too bad. They just stop you, make sure you're who you're supposed to be, and send you on your way," said Robert Bradley, a driver for Federal Express who was delivering packages on Pennsylvania Avenue.

But some businesses complained about the effects of the restrictions.

"It's going to hurt business," said Ashby Franklin, a project manager for Office Movers, which has about 80 trucks in the District each day.

"A lot of drivers are on a timeline, especially when they are coming in from out of state," he said. The checkpoints will "throw their timeline off and that's going to affect how they're going to get paid."

Restaurants off 17th Street said they were asked by the Secret Service for lists of all their suppliers who would make deliveries by truck, including the phone numbers and addresses of those suppliers.

One retailer said the changes were beyond what was needed.

"Security is always good, but I think this is way too much," said Driss Benjelloun, 36, who has run a sidewalk jewelry stand on Pennsylvania Avenue between 17th and 18th streets for 10 years. "It's really hard to go through the city right now."

"Ever since [September 11], they've been closing down streets sporadically anyway. This is probably just a test to close the whole thing down," Mr. Franklin said.

Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House has been closed since a month after the April 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

"If they did shut 17th Street down, that would create tremendous problems for us," said Constantin Costa, owner of Maxim Restaurant on F Street. "We'd have to shut down our business."

Secret Service spokesman John Gill referred all questions about the new security restrictions to the mayor's office. He would not say whether restrictions will be expanded or how permanent they are. He also said he would not comment on whether the Secret Service has any plans to open E Street, which was closed after September 11.

"The mayor wants to see E Street reopened to vehicular traffic, because that is what is causing much of the vehicular congestion," said Tony Bullock, spokesman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who added that a possible solution would be to reopen E Street with the same restrictions imposed on 17th Street.

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