District of Columbia planners and Metro officials say they are confident that the proposed influx into Washington of as many as 32,000 more federal workers could be handled by Metro subways and feeder buses.
But city officials admit they haven't studied traffic problems that might be created and that they weren't aware of the extent of the National Capital Planning Commission's plans for federal workers when the city's own land-use plan, also released last week, was being prepared.
"There is no doubt we have the capacity to handle this planned level of employment and much more," said William I. Herman, director of planning for Metro. "I endorse the overall theme of development around the Metro system."
James O. Gibson, assistant city administrator for planning and development, described the federal planning commission's plan as a "boon to us that would increase the employment base in the District."
The commission's long-range proposal for federal facilities and employment would shift workers over the next 20 years from leased office space in suburban Virginia and Maryland to government-owned offices in the Navy Yard and at Bolling Air Force Base in Southwest and in Buzzard Point in Southeast.
City and Metro officials were privy to preliminary federal planning to shift workers to Bolling and the Navy Yard but not to the plan to relocate workers in Buzzard Point.
And they were unaware of the full extent of the proposed shift of federal workers until it was announced Wednesday. "We didn't know the specific number," Gibson said.
City and federal planners long have eyed sections of Southwest and Southeast Washington as sites for extensive commercial and residential redevelopment and for new government offices.
For instance, the city's Capital Gateway Development plan calls for construction of a $400 million complex of housing, offices and hotels between South Capitol Street and the Washington Navy Yard.
City planners took into account some of the proposed federal employe shifts in their plan's forecast that the city's work force would increase by 110,000 during the next 20 years. But Gibson said the estimate may be revised upward by about 17,000 jobs in light of the federal planning agency proposal.
The city hasn't yet studied traffic problems that might be created by a large influx of federal workers in Southeast and Southwest Washington, according to Wallace Cohen, a deputy assistant director for planning in the D.C. Department of Transportation.
There are no subway stops planned near Bolling nor Buzzard Point. Officials say that federal employes who are reassigned to offices in those areas would have to drive to work or ride feeder buses from the nearest subway stops.
Metro plans to open a subway station near the Navy Yard as part of its proposed Green Line extension, which was designed to link northern and southern Prince George's County to the District's downtown and Anacostia areas.
However, a federal judge last spring enjoined Metro from completing the line until it resolves a dispute with businessmen and community leaders over the location of the southern terminus of the line.
Meanwhile, local community groups have been slow to assess the 332-page comprehensive land-use proposal prepared by D.C. planners, which would restrict most future commercial growth to the downtown area and industrial development to the New York Avenue NE corridor.
Part of the problem is that city and federal planners still haven't finished work on a crucial companion document outlining policies for historic preservation and urban design, according to Rich Churchill, president of the Foggy Bottom Civic Association.
Arthur Meigs, president of the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations, said that many community leaders were generally pleased with a Wednesday briefing on the proposal they received from city planners.
"The general reaction was positive and gratitude for all the work that was done," said Meigs.
Joseph Grano Jr., president of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association, said the release of the proposal signaled the start of a citywide debate on long-term development trends.
"Now it's up to the community to come up with its own plan and up to the politicans to get what they want," Grano said. "The point is to know what you want and to fight for it."