Secret Service tightening security around White House

Friday, August 9th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Secret Service, fearing the possibility of truck bombs, is banning trucks and all street parking on several blocks that run alongside the White House complex.

Beginning at 6 a.m. EDT Friday, eight blocks of downtown Washington's 17th Street _ between H Street and Constitution _ will be closed to trucks, said Secret Service spokesman John Gill. Also, on the four blocks closest to the White House, Gill said, ``No parking, no stopping, no standing.''

Gill described the change as a ``regular adjustment to security measures'' around the White House and said it was not a response to any specific threat.

The changes are designed to protect the White House from the kind of large-scale explosives that could be packed into a truck, he said. ``The measures we're putting into place here are meant to reduce the size of a charge from any explosive-laden vehicle.''

The parking ban is limited to the area that borders the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where most White House aides have their offices.

Parking will still be allowed closer to Constitution Avenue, another major capital thoroughfare, so souvenir, T-shirt and hot dog vendors who sell from trucks typically parked in that area will not be affected, Gill said.

He emphasized that the Secret Service consulted with White House and District of Columbia officials before deciding on the stricter security. But the district's nonvoting House delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, said Thursday's announcement was a surprise to her. She said the new traffic restrictions were ``thoughtless and inconsiderate'' and would hurt businesses.