Seeing Red Over Orange,

D.C. Firms Raise Concerns

Last week's orange terrorist alert made some local business people see red.

The security alert -- orange is the second-highest level -- that led the federal government to shut down or restrict roads in the District was a big inconvenience for many businesses.

Restrictions around the International Monetary Fund and World Bank headquarters in Foggy Bottom delayed traffic for thousands of workers headed to their jobs. And random stops of trucks big enough to carry bombs slowed delivery vehicles trying to make their rounds.

It was a dramatic acceleration of security measures, which have been getting tighter in the District in recent years. And by the end of the week, one of the region's most prestigious business groups had weighed in, too.

A prominent member of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, which has closely studied emergency preparedness since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, says the federal government should coordinate more with locals, echoing the criticism of D.C. officials.

"This region has done an incredible job at coordinating," said John E. "Chip" Akridge III, a D.C. developer and chairman of the Board's Emergency Preparedness Task Force. "The one piece we've had trouble with is getting the federal government to coordinate with us. When they dismiss people from work and close streets without talking to anybody, they just have a legacy and history of not cooperating with anybody."

Specifically, Akridge criticized the decision by the Capitol police and other federal officials to close several roads around the Capitol without consulting local officials.

Certainly, Akridge praised much of the coordination after last week's alert. Since 9/11, in fact, local governments are coordinating better, he said, in things like getting police and fire officials in different jurisdictions to communicate better. And he praised what he said was the deliberative, thoughtful process in which local and federal officials jointly agreed last week to limit access by pedestrians to 15th Street along the side of the Treasury Department building.

-- Neil Irwin

John E. "Chip" Akridge III wants better coordination.