THE REGION

Work to Close 14th Street Bridge Lanes

Three lanes on the 14th Street bridge heading out of the District will be closed tonight and tomorrow night from 9 to 5 a.m. for repairs to an overhead sign, District transportation officials said yesterday.

District officials said that traffic from the westbound lanes of the Southwest Expressway to the southbound lanes of the bridge will cross the bridge on the southbound high-occupancy vehicle lanes. Motorists heading to exits off the bridge for the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Reagan National Airport will be diverted to Route 1, while northbound traffic entering the HOV lanes going to the parkway will be directed to Route 110.

District officials said supports on the sign need strengthening, so it must be taken down and replaced.

Hoyer Defends Fired Park Police Chief

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) wrote to Interior Secretary Gale Norton yesterday defending fired U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa C. Chambers and urging immediate personnel and administrative reforms, citing a new report to congressional appropriators.

"It would appear the grounds for [Chambers's] removal were far more tenuous and insubstantial than has been claimed and demand to be critically reexamined," wrote Hoyer, a senior House Appropriations Committee member. "The report strengthens the conviction shared by many that Chief Chambers was removed from her post for reasons that had nothing to do with competence, but because she dared to tell the truth about an important security matter."

Chambers was placed on administrative leave in December and fired in July for saying that the department needed more money to meet homeland security demands.

THE DISTRICT

Police Contract Talks Hit Impasse

D.C. police union officials have declared an impasse in contract negotiations with District officials, a move that sends the matter to a mediator with the D.C. Public Employee Relations Board. The department's 3,800 officers have been working without a contract since October.

Police officials declined to comment yesterday. Union leaders said they have become so upset at working conditions that they noted in their newsletter that other departments offer better pay and benefits.

The union declared an impasse last week.

VIRGINIA

Woman Fatally Hit by Truck Identified

A pedestrian speaking on a cellular phone in Reston who was hit and killed by a garbage truck Monday morning was indentified yesterday as an Indiana woman.

Police said Nichole R. Kral, 33, of Marion, Ind., was walking in the 11200 block of Silentwood Lane, just north of South Lakes Drive, behind a garbage truck about 10:20 a.m. and was crushed as the truck backed up.

Kral was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was not charged.

Court to Hear Case Against Slow Growth

The Virginia Supreme Court has decided to hear a case brought by Loudoun County landowners seeking to overturn the slow-growth zoning changes enacted by the previous Board of Supervisors.

The landowners contend that they were not properly notified about the proposed changes, which were made in an attempt to slow residential growth in the nation's fastest-growing county.

More than 200 lawsuits were initially filed challenging the county's new zoning law. Some have been dropped, and dozens have been the subject of settlement talks. More than 100 lawsuits are working their way through the legal process.

The Supreme Court also ruled in the county's favor on two development-related cases. The justices upheld a decision blocking the annexation of land near Leesburg and also ruled against Greenvest LC, which sued to overturn the county's rejection of some of the firm's development plans.

Pedestrian Killed by Van in Centreville

A man walking along Route 28 in Centreville on Monday afternoon was struck and killed by a van that had swerved to avoid another van, Fairfax County police said yesterday.

The victim's name was not released pending notification of relatives. Police said their investigation was continuing. They are asking any witnesses to call Fairfax police at 703-691-2131.

MARYLAND

Student Critically Injured by Car

A 15-year-old Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School student was critically injured yesterday morning when he was hit by a car while crossing Massachusetts Avenue in the Westmoreland Hills area of Bethesda, Montgomery County police said.

Samuel Morris of the 4700 block of Jamestown Road was in critical condition yesterday at Suburban Hospital, police said. Morris, a sophomore, was crossing the northbound lanes of Massachusetts about 6:30 a.m., when he was hit, police said. There is no crosswalk or traffic light where the accident occurred, police said.

The investigation is continuing, and no charges had been filed against the driver of the car, police said.

Pedestrian Fatally Hit by Officer

A 23-year-old Silver Spring man died Monday night after he was hit by an off-duty Montgomery County police officer while crossing Connecticut Avenue in Wheaton, police said.

Alfredo Rafael Reyes of the 12200 block of Veirs Mill Road was pronounced dead at the scene. Montgomery police said he was crossing northbound Connecticut just north of Weller Road about 11:40 p.m. when he was hit.

Police said Reyes was not in a crosswalk when he was struck by a 1998 Chevrolet Lumina driven by Melanie Macuch, a Montgomery police officer for two years. Macuch was treated for minor injuries she suffered from broken windshield glass, police said.

"To all our Native American friends here today, I say, 'The sacred hoop has been restored; the circle is complete.' The reemergence of the native people has come true."

-- Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, at yesterday's opening of the National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Steven Ginsberg, Del Quentin Wilber, Susan Levine, Debbi Wilgoren, Tom Jackman, Spencer S. Hsu, Michael Laris and Katherine Shaver.