Move would cut commuters off from walkways, elevators Pentagon officials have announced plans to heighten security measures near the Pentagon Metro Station, a move that would disrupt bus and rail commuter traffic and cause safety hazards for disabled passengers.
The new security measures would restrict access for the roughly 30,000 daily travelers moving between buses and the Metrorail station, according to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, a group of elected and appointed officials who oversee local transportation services.
"This might be ideal for the Pentagon and Pentagon security, but we have to look out for the safety and concerns of our passengers," said Metro board and NVTC member Jeff McKay. "There's got to be a better way to do this."
The proposed changes come four months after a gunman approached the Pentagon alongside Metro commuters and opened fire on Pentagon security officers, wounding two.
Pentagon officials plan to move existing security checkpoints farther away from the Pentagon and closer to bus bays. The move would prevent travelers from using two covered walkways and would block commuter access to elevators, according to the commission.
"Those elevators are critical to passengers with disabilities," said Catherine Hudgins, the transportation commission's chairwoman and a member of Metro's board of directors.
Hudgins said she and other transportation officials recently learned of the Pentagon's plans. She said she intends to send a letter to Pentagon officials, urging them to reconsider moving the security stations.
The newly configured security checkpoints would "inconvenience many of the [Pentagon station's] 30,000 daily transit customers," many of whom are Pentagon employees, Hudgins wrote in a draft letter dated July 1.
Hudgins said Pentagon officials had tried before to reconfigure their security checkpoints, and at least once congressional intervention had been necessary to ensure transit passengers access to the covered walkways.
She said Pentagon officials could have the new security checkpoints in place as early as next month.
She said the Pentagon didn't need approval to implement the changes, but in the past agreed to work with Metro when problems arose.