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Published: Saturday, 7/28/2001

Reopen Pennsylvania Avenue

Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., especially the portion in front of the White House, is America's Main Street. The barricades that have prevented vehicular traffic for six years should be removed.

Businesses want the street reopened. District of Columbia officials want it reopened. Tourists want it reopened. Commuters want it reopened. The people of America want it reopened.

So what's there to discuss?

The National Capital Planning Commission must find a way to permanently reopen Pennsylvania Avenue. The commission has examined the matter since spring and, after it completes a traffic analysis, it is expected to deliver a recommendation early this fall. Surely, the commission will not disappoint Americans.

Pennsylvania Avenue was closed to vehicular traffic by former President Clinton in 1995 after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. The streets in front of many federal buildings throughout the nation were barricaded as well, including in front of the old federal building on Summit Street.

The Secret Service wants Pennsylvania Avenue to remain closed. But it's absurd to keep the street restricted once practical security is established. Keeping it closed is contrary to the principles of freedom and independence that this nation was built upon, and which are symbolized by the White House and Washington. Barricading the street says that the bad guys have prevailed.

The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee has unanimously approved a nonbinding resolution urging federal planners to reopen the street. Perhaps the full House can approve the measure before its recess next month. The Senate is expected to approve a similar resolution calling for the reopening of the street.

A barricaded Pennsylvania Avenue stands as an embarrassment and an affront. Let's open it up again.

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