- The Washington Times - Monday, January 28, 2002

Road restrictions on commercial tractor-trailers around the U.S. Capitol that have been in effect since the September 11 terrorist attacks are here to stay, U.S. Capitol Police say.
Capitol Police spokesman Lt. Dan Nichols says officers no longer will be stationed at intersections to redirect trucks, but the restrictions, prompted by fears a hijacked truck packed with heavy explosives could be detonated near federal buildings, are still in effect.
"This is permanent," Lt. Nichols said. "There will be truck restrictions on Capitol Hill from now on."
He said officers in squad cars are patrolling the restricted area and will pull over commercial tractor-trailers larger than 11/4 tons that are in violation.
When initiated after the terrorist attacks, the truck restrictions were criticized by business and political leaders, who complained they weren't provided enough notice to create alternate traffic plans.
Detours have created hazards along the narrow neighborhood streets of Capitol Hill, but residents say conditions have improved.
"That has all really calmed down here," Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kent Jarboe said. "I think, in part, the truckers have realized they can't do it, and they've found other ways."
Lt. Nichols said Capitol Police began enforcement with mobile patrols because they felt truckers were aware of the restrictions.
"That's what actually led us to change our technique," he said. "We got beyond the education phase for the truckers who enter the area."
Capitol Police continue to inspect trucks that need to do business inside the restricted area, and they are capable of marking and tracking them, Lt. Nichols said.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, said through spokeswoman Doxie McCoy that when the restrictions went into place, she wanted to ensure access for Metro buses, tour buses and cars, and that she objected to rerouting trucks through neighborhood streets.
But Mrs. Norton said she is not opposed to police efforts to ensure the Capitol's security and is working on a federally funded transit-management plan that would ensure the neighborhoods don't suffer from the restrictions.
D.C. Council member Sharon Ambrose, who represents the Capitol Hill neighborhood, said she had no objections to a permanent ban on trucks around the Capitol complex.
"We are not upset about it," said Mrs. Ambrose, Ward 6 Democrat. "The restrictions have not, as far as I can tell, caused any great hardship to the businesses on Capitol Hill."
Bruce Robey, vice president of the Capitol Hill Association of Merchants and Professionals, says most of the problems, including confusion leading to missed deliveries, have been ironed out.
"Since then, it's been OK," he said. "I've asked a lot of people at meetings, and they said they're not having problems."
But Mr. Robey criticized Capitol Police for not communicating their intentions to community members and wondered aloud where the truck restrictions might be leading.
"The next shoe to drop is they're going to close it to all traffic," he said. "That's what I'm afraid of."

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