By Anna Borgman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 22, 1995 ; Page B01
The partial closing of Pennsylvania Avenue NW may mark a grim new era in the way Americans think about security. But for legal secretary Kimberly Windell, it means a daily race against the clock: She pays $5 for every three minutes she is late to pick up her daughter from day care.
Windell leaves her job at 15th and L streets NW about 5:30 p.m. to pick up 5-year-old Kerry in Alexandria. With Saturday's permanent closing of Pennsylvania Avenue between 15th and 17th streets, she worries that she may not be able to make it by 6 p.m., when her sitter imposes sanctions at an hourly rate of $100.
Even in yesterday's light traffic, Windell said it took her an extra 10 minutes to make the trip downtown, where Kerry and her older sister tried out their roller blades in front of the White House -- one of the few forms of wheeled traffic still allowed on that two-block stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue.
While Windell worried about baby-sitting, other commuters recalculated their routes to work and the times they would need to leave their homes this morning. Alie Mohammed, an Afghani immigrant who has sold ties near the White House for the last four years, said he planned to wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual to get to his stand during morning rush hour.
Office of Personnel Management officials said yesterday that about 210,000 federal workers would be on a "delayed arrival" schedule and could arrive an hour late for work. "We're just trying to be sensitive to the fact that people may have problems sorting this out on the first day," said spokeswoman Janice LaChance.
Linda Grant, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Public Works, said the only traffic-management plan in effect today will be a parking ban on 15th and 17th streets NW. Other measures may be taken as officials see the effects of the new traffic patterns, she said.
For all its inconvenience, Windell had mixed feelings about the street closing in front of the White House. "Maybe some good will come of this," she said. "Everybody's having a great time."
And Kerry, her knees dirtied from a few falls, was grateful to the "man in the big house," who she said closed the street "so everyone with wheels can skate here."
"It's very agreeable," Monica Ipina, of Manassas, said in Spanish. She sat with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, Cristina, under the shade of a massive oak tree in Lafayette Square.
Ria and Piet Vanderhulst, in town from the Netherlands for a microbiology conference, were surprised to hear that Pennsylvania Avenue had carried six lanes of traffic just 48 hours earlier. "We didn't realize this was an unusual situation," Ria Vanderhulst said. "I think it is a wise thing to do. There are a lot of terrorists."
Yadullah Nasaullah, a Kurdish immigrant who snaps pictures of tourists standing with cardboard stand-ups of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton at 17th Street and Pennsylvania NW, said he was pleased to see so many people out enjoying themselves.
"Whoever has done this plan has done very well," Nasaullah said. "People are happy."
And Mike Rogers, a Takoma Park resident who works as an analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency, said the closing made his trip into the District easier yesterday. He took the Metro with his wife, Karen Sokal, and their infant daughter, Mikaela. They strolled across Pennsylvania Avenue without waiting for a light to change.
"I think this is a great idea. They should close more streets," Rogers said. "I think it's nice to be able to walk around, push a baby carriage and ride a bike without being worried about getting run over.
"Of course, I wish they would have come to this decision under different circumstances and for different reasons," he added.
Rogers questioned whether the closing would deter terrorism. If someone wants to hurt people, he said, there are plenty of other sites where a car bomb would do serious damage. No one, for example, has proposed closing the street in front of the EPA building, he said.
Ellen Thomas, who has stationed herself across the street from the White House for the last 11 years as part of an anti-nuclear vigil, said she worried that the street closing could be the first step toward eventually excluding pedestrians from the area.
"Are they going to have metal detectors at the corners?" Thomas said. "If they stop with what they've done so far, the air is cleaner, and people like dancing around in the middle of the street. But what's next?"