Suspicious Package Disrupts NW Traffic

By Allan Lengel and Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Duke Ellington Bridge in the District, which is both a memorial to the famous musician and an important traffic artery, was shut down for a time last night while authorities investigated what was described as a suspicious package.

A police official said the package turned out to be a white bag that contained a pillow. Authorities said the strategic location of the abandoned bag necessitated a careful investigation.

The incident on the bridge came a day after the Lincoln Memorial was closed for more than two hours after a suspicious liquid and a threatening note were reported to be on the grounds.

The two incidents symbolize the heightened attention that has been devoted to such matters in recent years, particularly since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"Seems like every day we get something like that," a police spokesman said about last night's incident, which shut down the bridge for about two hours starting at 7:05 p.m.

The Ellington Bridge, a concrete arch structure completed in 1935, carries Calvert Street NW over Rock Creek Parkway and was once called the Calvert Street Bridge. It links Connecticut Avenue with the Adams Morgan neighborhood around 18th Street and Columbia Road.

The Calvert Street Bridge replaced an overpass that dated to 1891 and carried streetcars. In addition to vehicles, the bridge, which has broad sidewalks flanking its roadway, is often used by pedestrians.

Cars that normally turn onto Calvert Street continued on Connecticut Avenue last night, and traffic there quickly grew heavy as motorists peered toward the bridge and the emergency vehicles arrayed there.

Alonso Rivera, an employee at the House of Philly, a restaurant near the bridge, chuckled later when told of the report of the pillow. However, he said, "it's good to have this kind of precaution."

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