- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Fourteen months after terrorists crashed a hijacked plane into the Pentagon, officials in the Washington region yesterday warned they still have a long way to go if they are to avoid the gridlock that can occur after any regional emergency.
"If our largest employer in the region happens to release all of its 340,000 workers at the same time, our transportation system gets overloaded," said Michael C. Rogers, executive director of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, a regional planning agency.
The largest employer in the region is the federal government, which accounts for about 180,000 of the 400,000 passengers who use the subway system to commute to and from work each day.
About 1 million people commute into the city each day. Many of them work for private companies with personnel policies that mirror those of the federal government regarding closures and dismissals.
After the Pentagon attack, train platforms were clogged and major downtown intersections and commuter routes were impassable, as hundreds of thousands of people tried to reach their suburban homes at the same time.
While officials have identified more than 1,000 school buses in the region that could be used in the event of a mass evacuation, they are still promoting a strategy of "shelter in place," or a staggered schedule of dismissals.
"We still have a lot of work today in identifying where to shelter people," Mr. Rogers told a gathering of transportation planners and law-enforcement officials from Virginia, Maryland and the District. Officials throughout the region have been working to identify facilities to temporarily house and feed up to 250,000 people should a portion of the region be rendered temporarily inaccessible because of an act of terrorism or biochemical contamination.
Local governments are working to strengthen their partnerships allowing personnel from neighboring communities to operate across jurisdictional lines.
Recent examples of that cooperation have included cleanup efforts after tornados in College Park and LaPlata, Md., and the sniper attacks that threatened the area for three weeks in October.

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