- The Washington Times - Friday, August 9, 2002

Beginning today, the U.S. Secret Service will not allow cars to park, stop or stand from E Street to Pennsylvania Avenue west of the White House, nor will trucks be allowed to drive on 17th Street between H Street and Constitution Avenue.

"It's not a closure. It's a truck restriction on 17th Street," Secret Service spokesman Brian Marr said yesterday. "It is a security enhancement for the White House complex and our employees."

To reduce the threat of large quantities of explosives being detonated near the White House, trucks will be unable to drive along the designated eight blocks on 17th Street beginning today at 6 a.m.

The action by the Secret Service is not in responses to any specific threat, but "is part of an ongoing process," said Mr. Marr. "It should improve the traffic flow on 17th Street and not hinder it."

The news was not well received by D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Democrat, who said the Secret Service broke off discussions with the mayor's office by leaking news of the restrictions.

"The Secret Service simply leaked that [it] would happen [today]. That is not good. That is what happens in a police state," Mrs. Norton said. "I think they did it as leverage on the District. They did it to say, 'We can do it anyway.'"

Mrs. Norton said she does not think the restrictions are necessary.

"We are talking about distances from the White House that are very great," she said. "I do not believe they have justified them."

Mrs. Norton said the city should have demanded the opening of E Street NW, or extracted some kind of commitment on the construction of a circulator shuttle system, or a tunnel, which it did not get.

"We've been had," she said. "Somebody does not know how to negotiate."

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams released a statement yesterday saying he will work with the White House and the Secret Service "to control truck access in the immediate vicinity of the White House on 17th Street NW."

"We have established a solid working relationship with the White House focused on developing the appropriate balance between legitimate security concerns, while recognizing the importance of minimizing the interference with life and commerce in the District," Mr. Williams said.

Mrs. Norton said she had talked with city employees, who told her that the Secret Service did not alert them before leaking the information.

"We should have gotten more for this, and if we don't stand up and fight harder, we're going to see more of a shutdown of our city," Mrs. Norton said.

"The Secret Service has become a sovereign unto its own when it comes to what to do in the District of Columbia," she added. "We need to stand up and require that the Secret Service deal with us as police should with any city government."

Mr. Marr said the Secret Service had no response to Mrs. Norton's comments.

D.C. police said they will assist the Secret Service with enforcement.

"We'll help them in the implementation," D.C. police spokesman Anthony O'Leary said. But Lt. Dan Nichols said Capitol Police will not be involved.

There is concern about how the new restrictions will affect business in the area.

"Obviously, any time you take away any part of the transportation infrastructure, part of the city suffers," said Bob Grow, director of transportation for the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

"There is a delicate balance between protecting the president and balancing the economic and social needs of the city," he said, adding, "As these roads are closed off, it is becoming more of a fortress."

Mrs. Norton said she thinks "it's particularly outrageous when you consider that the businesses around the White House have been considerably hurt."

Daily business operations at Baumgarten will be impaired, said Mila Baturin, owner of the manufacturing company that has been located at 616 17th St. NW between F and G streets since 1996.

Mrs. Baturin learned of the closure last nightfrom a reporter. Her husband was informed by Secret Service agents.

"We get deliveries and we ship out our merchandise daily with trucking companies, so it will definitely affect business," she said.

But Metro Jewelry owner Maurice Trujillo said the Secret Service visited him Wednesday to forewarn him of the closure. He does not expect it will affect his store, which deals in retail sales, repairs and engraving.

"It's a small business and I don't use trucks and my customers don't come in trucks," Mr. Trujillo said, noting the store is located at 750 17th St., a half-block south of H Street. "I get small packages from UPS, Federal Express, the post office."

He said deliveries that arrive in their trucks will not be a problem.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide