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D.C. Roads Will Be Hit Hard By Government Shutdown

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Sections of Beach Drive within Rock Creek Park would likely be closed if the government shuts down, according to a Park Service spokesman.
David Schultz
Sections of Beach Drive within Rock Creek Park would likely be closed if the government shuts down, according to a Park Service spokesman.

One piece of good news: drivers won't need to worry about the biggest NPS-maintained roads. The four major parkways in the D.C. region — the George Washington Memorial Parkway, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, Rock Creek Parkway and Suitland Parkway — will stay open during a shutdown. That’s according to Park Service spokesman Bill Line.

But other surface roads within the parks will likely be closed, Line says. Those include Beach Drive, Anacostia Drive SE and Fort Dupont Drive SE in D.C., as well as roads in Great Falls Park, Manassas Battlefield Park and Prince William Forest Park in Maryland and Virginia.

In Rock Creek Park, for example, only four of the many roads through the park are expected to be open during a shutdown: Rock Creek Parkway, Military Road NW, Tilden Street NW connecting to Park Road NW, and Porter Street NW connecting to Klingle Street NW.

In general, the final say on whether a specific road through a park will be closed lies with the superintendent for each individual park, according to Line. Be alert for barricaded roads whenever driving through any National Park Service areas during a government shutdown.

Line also says it’s possible parts of Constitution and Independence Avenues in D.C. will be closed, although that’s less likely, he adds. All local roads in D.C. would remain open.

U.S. Park Police will be patrolling the park roads that remain open, according to Line.

The problem arises in the case of a possible shutdown because in the eyes of the U.S. government, D.C. is basically just another federal agency. That means if the federal government shuts down, local District agencies would shut down right along with them.

“We’re the only city in the nation that needs this," D.C. Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle says, "but we need the authority from Congress to spend our money.”

Lisle says if Congress can’t reach a deal before midnight, all functions of his agency would stop -- with a few exceptions.

“We will have a limited number of traffic control officers on duty," he says. "We will have a skeleton crew of street and bridge maintenance workers to do emergency repairs. We will have all our school crossing guards, because the students will be going to school and we want to make sure they get there safely.”

Lisle says he doesn’t think this would cause any major traffic problems. “It’s going to be the kind of impact, at least to some degree, that we see when there’s a federal holiday and traffic is light," he says.

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