The Pentagon wants to reconfigure the security barriers at their entrance in a way that would reduce the accessibility of the Pentagon Metrorail station, especially for passengers with disabilities.
The Examiner’s Markham Heid reports that the Pentagon wants to move its checkpoints farther from the building’s entrance.
This follows an incident four months ago where a gunman shot and wounded two Pentagon security officers at the checkpoint by the Metro station.
The new configuration would close off a section in front of the Pentagon which is currently accessible to the public. Two covered walkways use this area to connect the bus bays to the elevator and escalators to the station. a letter from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission notes that these walkways were part of the arrangement worked out last time the Pentagon reconfigured the area, and asks the Pentagon to work with area governments before cutting these off.
According to the diagrams, commuters will have to access the elevators and escalators via uncovered walkways. In many cases, they will have to walk extra distance, especially disabled passengers needing to use elevators. NVTC also worries that “queues waiting to pass through the new security checkpoint are likely to interfere with passenger movements to and from the bus bays and Metrorail escalators, creating a safety hazard.”
The Pentagon station was built before the current security hysteria, and probably couldn’t be in its current location if it were built today. That’s too bad, because the Pentagon’s transit accessibility makes transit feasible for large numbers of DoD employees.
The Pentagon needs to take reasonable security precautions, but does the fact that a mentally ill man unconnected to any terrorism shot people at the security checkpoint but didn’t get into the building or seriously threaten it warrant more security barriers? No matter how far out the barriers are, someone can still go up to the checkpoints and open fire. If the Pentagon goes forward and another crazy person brings a gun to the new barriers, will the Pentagon want to move them even farther out?