The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments called yesterday for consultation with the Secret Service, the White House and other agencies over a controversial federal proposal to close Pennsylvania Avenue to traffic between 15th and 17th streets NW.
D.C. City Council member H.R. Crawford, chairman of COG's board of directors described the proposal, made public last month, as "somewhat shocking" and "extremely damaging" for downtown traffic. He said the plan reflected "a fortress mentality."
One COG board member, Del. Marian Van Landingham (D-Alexandria) denounced the plan as "another step toward the imperial presidency."
The resolution, approved unanimously by the board, urged "full consultation and participation" by the District, the COG-affiliated Transportation Planning Board and the Metro transit system before any move to restrict Pennsylvania Avenue traffic is carried out.
Noting that the section of the avenue in front of the White House is used daily by more than 30,000 cars and buses, the COG board said that federal agencies "should take no action to prohibit" access unless officials conclude that traffic poses "a significant security risk" to the White House.
The proposal was disclosed by federal officials, including Secret Service chief John Simpson and Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III, at a recent congressional hearing. It was described as aimed at improving security for the White House.
Federal officials have repeatedly described the proposal as preliminary, saying it would require extensive review before being put into effect. "There's no concrete plan yet," a Secret Service spokesman said yesterday.
A Treasury spokesman said any further move would be coordinated with local officials.
D.C. officials have said that other road construction would be required to accommodate traffic if Pennsylvania Avenue is blocked. One proposal, they said, is a tunnel under the avenue, estimated to cost $300 million to $500 million. Other schemes might entail widening E Street, H Street or Constitution Avenue.
In other actions yesterday, the COG board:
* Proposed setting up a new committee, including Federal Aviation Administration officials, to devise plans to reduce aircraft noise near National Airport. The board had shelved last month the long-debated "scatter plan," which was aimed at curbing noise over some areas.
* Called for stepped-up efforts to prevent abuse of traffic regulations allowing right turns at red lights. The move followed recent COG proposals to crack down on other traffic violations.
* Agreed to set up an office at the Pentagon to help employes form car pools.