Pentagon security changes mean new pedestrian paths at rail, bus stops

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 22, 2010; 9:25 PM

Metro passengers who walk between the Pentagon rail station and the bus platform will be required to use new walkways beginning Monday as part of Pentagon plans to move employee checkpoints farther from the building to increase security, Metro officials said Wednesday.

Pentagon officials have said they needed to add security checkpoints farther from the busy building entrance where gunman John Patrick Bedell opened fire March 4. That checkpoint has been only a few feet from the entrance where about 6,700 employees pass through during the morning crunch, they said.

When approaching the Metrorail station from the upper bus platform, Metro passengers may continue to use walkways that lead directly to the rail station's north and south escalators. However, only people with Pentagon building passes will be allowed to use the left center walkway near the rail station's south escalators that lead directly to the Pentagon visitor entrance, Metro said.

Metro passengers may continue to use the walkway near the station's north escalators but will be restricted to one side. That walkway, which is covered, also provides the most direct route to the Metrorail station's elevators, officials said.

A temporary canopy will be installed in October to protect Metro riders using the walkway to get to the south escalators. Until then, passengers will be directed to use the north escalators during bad weather.

The restrictions are in effect on weekdays between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Pentagon officials agreed to change their original security plan announced in July after transit officials and Northern Virginia leaders complained that it would cut off public access from the rail station's only set of elevators and leave Metro customers without a covered walkway in bad weather, said Kala Quintana, public outreach director for the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. The commission was also concerned that Pentagon employees waiting at the security checkpoint would back up into the bus area, she said.

Quintana said Pentagon officials were "very responsive" after meeting with commission members, Metro officials and local bus agencies.

"We understood they needed to step up security, but we also need to serve the public," Quintana said.

The Pentagon Metrorail station handles about 32,000 trips each weekday, Metro said.

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