A D.C. City Council committee has ordered the city Transportation Department to present a program to rid the Duke Ellington Bridge of parked trucks and buses that have produced high anxiety in the neighborhood.
The bridge carries Calvert Street NW across Rock Creek Park, linking the Adams-Morgan district with the Connecticut Avenue commercial area that adjoins the Shoreham-Americana and Sheraton Park hotels.
Semitrailer trucks that deliver exhibits and other material to conventions at those hotels, and at the more remote Washington Hilton, often park on the bridge for several days until it is time to move the material out. Tour buses, whose customers are staying at the hotels, frequently park on the bridge overnight.
Area residents told a special meeting of the council's transportation committee recently that the large vehicles parked end-to-end are unsightly and create a hazard to residents walking across the bridge.
They said the vehicles form a solid wall that shields muggers on the sidewalks from the view of police cruisers and other cars driving past.
"The (existing) law says "no parking on the bridge." Enforce it," said council member David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1), who represents Adams-Morgan.
John Brophy, head of the Transportation Department parking bureau, agreed a problem exists that began when the city first permitted tour buses to park during the 1976 bicentennial observances.
The council approved Brophy's request for a 30-day delay in eliminating parking on the bridge so the department can produce a program that includes parking the trucks and buses elsewhere in the city. He said the use of car impoundment lots and fringe parking lots is being considered.
Tour buses and conventions are important to the city's economy, Brophy noted.
Jerry A. Moore Jr. (R-At Large), the transportation committee chairman, agreed reluctantly to grant the 30-day delay. He said the city should construct a special facility for overnight parking of tour buses.
Manuel B. Lopez, who lives on Calvert Street east of the bridge, described the potential danger of the parked vehicles. He said his wife once started walking home from Connecticut Avenue when she saw someone lurking on the bridge sidewalk behind the trucks, apparently waiting to rob her.
"She turned around and went back and got a taxi home," Lopez said. He urged the committee to ban parking immediately. "For someone who's caught on that bridge, undefended, they can't afford to wait" for an eventual solution to the problem, Lopez said.
Deputy Police Chief Lloyd W. Smith, who commands the Second District, said the parking "has been a constant source of complaints."
Police Lt. Brooks J. Kelly said the trucks are frequently ticketed, but their out-of-town drivers typically ignore the tickets.
Lawrence R. Myers, of the Kalorama Citizens Association, said he has observed trucks parked as long as four days without getting a ticket.
"The truckers and the hotels just feel they can get away with it," Myers complained. "One tow truck (to move the trailers) is just like a gnat with an elephant."