- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2005

Federal authorities yesterday assured D.C. officials that they would not have to pay $17 million in costs associated with the Presidential Inauguration, but some city leaders still fear extensive road closures will damper commerce on a day when throngs of visitors are expected.

Sharon Gang, spokeswoman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams, said he was notified officially yesterday that the city will be reimbursed $12 million under the Urban Area Security Initiative grant fund, which the Department of Homeland Security administers for security needs in the region when unforeseen events occur.

The District will pay the remaining $5 million from its annual Emergency Planning and Security Cost Fund. That money comes from a federal payment of $15 million to help pay for security for federal events.

Ms. Gang said city officials will continue to press for a supplemental grant from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to cover expenditures.

About 750,000 people are expected to attend the swearing-in ceremony and the inaugural parade Thursday.

City leaders have expressed concern that security measures for the events will make it difficult for visitors to get around and could cost the District tourism dollars.

The Secret Service announced Tuesday that traffic and parking restrictions will empty downtown Washington of automobile traffic from 7 p.m. Wednesday through about 4 a.m. next Friday.

“It’s very hard to argue that, during the parade itself, there should be extensive vehicular transportation,” said D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat. “I really thought I had to concentrate on our real concern, which was making sure that pedestrians could get around easily … and that the message to downtown was that tourist facilities should remain open … .”

The restricted area runs from Foggy Bottom south to the Lincoln Memorial on the west side, and extends east beyond the U.S. Capitol, including the Library of Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Streets will be closed in a large section encompassing the White House, the Mall and the Capitol. The western and northern parts of the perimeter will be restricted to residents or those with official business in the area.

The Archives-Navy Memorial and Smithsonian Metro stations also will be closed until after the parade, as they were during the 2001 inauguration.

Mrs. Norton said she was pleased the Secret Service did not close more Metro stations, which had been considered.

Ms. Gang said Mr. Williams resisted the street closings, but agrees that they are “appropriate.”

“The good thing is, the city has been at the table with the Secret Service,” she said. “There will be some disruptions during the parade and before, but a lot of people are coming for more than one day.”

Brian Boyer, spokesman for the DC Chamber of Commerce, said his organization is encouraging businesses in the secure perimeter to operate as normal during the inaugural festivities.

“It’s never a good thing for businesses when the city turns into an armed camp,” he said. “As a chamber of commerce, we realize the need to be secure for this event, but we also want to make sure there is balance so that commerce can continue to be conducted.”

• Jon Ward contributed to this report.

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