For the past three decades, Ruth Rappaport has savored her quiet life on Third Street NE, a strip of charming brick-and-clapboard rowhouses a few blocks from the bustle of the U.S. Capitol.
But with new security checkpoints around the Capitol, Rappaport's street has been transformed into a new artery for dozens of Metrobuses, provoking anger among residents who complain of gas fumes and screeching brakes.
"Do you like living on a major bus route?" reads an anonymous flier slipped under residents' doors in recent days, urging them to complain to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
"You see what I'm talking about?" said Rappaport, 80, a retired Library of Congress supervisor, as an N22 bus lumbered down the narrow street while she sat on her porch. "I don't like the pollution, I don't like the noise."
Joe Warren, 42, a Justice Department lawyer who lives on the street with his wife, Sarah, and two young sons, said that the traffic has altered the neighborhood's character, and that residents don't know how long they will have to put up with buses rolling past their homes.
"It has impacted our quality of life," Warren said. "Capitol Hill, for the people who live here, is a sleepy village within a city. That's one of the attractions. Now it's not a sleepy village."
The U.S. Capitol Police last month established more than a dozen security checkpoints around the Capitol, closing off a portion of First Street NE, which had been the main roadway for bus traffic.
Since then, WMATA has rerouted eight bus lines around the Capitol, including four along Third Street NE, which carries northbound traffic, and three in the opposite direction along Fourth Street NE, said Steve Taubenkibel, a WMATA spokesman.
The lines along Third Street -- the 96, 97, A11 and N22 -- make 186 weekly trips, carrying roughly 8,000 riders. The lines along Fourth Street make slightly fewer trips, he said.
"If it were up to us, we would like to have the buses on their normal routes," Taubenkibel said. "If the federal officials close these streets, we have to obey the rules."
Third and Fourth streets were chosen for the rerouting, he said, because they are close to First Street, where the lines previously traveled. "We want to try to get a schedule in place, if we have to reroute, that provides the least amount of inconvenience to our customers, and try to miss as few bus stops as possible," he said.
Moving the bus lines to other streets in the neighborhood, he said, would only inconvenience other residents.
Not everyone on Third Street is irked by the additional traffic, which also includes tour buses and trucks. Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), the former presidential candidate who owns a rowhouse there, said he hasn't noticed anything different, perhaps because he spent most of August away from the District.
"With all the security and the construction, I guess we're getting the overflow," he said with a shrug as he arrived home on a recent afternoon. "We'll survive."
Nancy Domenici, the wife of U.S. Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), who owns a house across the street, said she has begun to notice buses bunching up behind each other at the traffic light at the end of her street.
"There's a lot at certain times of the day," she said, adding that she's uncertain how long the disruption will go on. "We don't know if it's temporary."
Another resident, a retired economist who declined to be identified, said he was worried that the vibrations generated by the buses will damage the foundation of his home.
As compensation for having to endure the new traffic, the man said, the city should at least reduce the property taxes along the street by 40 percent.
"They want us to make all the sacrifices," said the man, who said he has lived on the street for more than seven decades. "Why don't they make one?"
Andy Bressler, 39, an investment banker, said the lamppost outside his house along Third Street has been transformed into a makeshift bus stop.
Now he finds cigarette butts and litter on the ground outside his house, and he's concerned about his two small children playing outdoors.
"It's one more strike against the city," he said. "If it continues, we'll probably be moving."