D.C.

Cars banned on the National Mall?

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Imagine no cars on Constitution and Independence avenues - and not because of light traffic.

Former Senate sergeant-at-arms Terry Gainer said he believes security at the Capitol complex on the National Mall should be expanded by banning vehicles, much like Washingtonians are accustomed to in front of the White House.

Gainer's idea to prevent the threat of a terrorist or other type of attack comes in the form of a large, pedestrian-only campus. Cars would be off-limits for more than a dozen square blocks, from the Capitol to Union Station.

Pennsylvania resident Tim Jukes remembers driving around here prior to the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks.

"There were a lot more places to park," he recalls.

Tourist Anthony Bowers said he thinks eliminating cars would also make it safer for pedestrians - not to mention, ridding them of any fears of car bombs.

Naturally, though, many locals worry that Gainer's plan would only add to congestion downtown in the district, resulting in even fewer parking spaces and longer walks for tourists.

"People come here and they need quick parking," said D.C. resident Karine Roushanian. "To get rid of the parking would be wrong."

Gainer says at the end of the day, it's about safety first. He is also arguing in favor of a fence around the Capitol Square - after all, it was last October when Miriam Carey was shot in the back of the head by U.S. Capitol police after a high-speed chase from the White House to the Capitol.

The Capitol Police Board has commissioned studies on Gainer's proposals. Neither the city nor park police have weighed in yet.

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