Government shutdown causes surprising closures

A barrier encourages people to stay off of the National Mall. Photo: Whitney Wild/ABC7

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - It may be one of the most beautiful drives in America, but don’t try pulling over to take it all in. The scenic overlooks on the GW Parkway are closed until further notice.

“I don’t really understand why any of these parks are closed or memorials are closed,” Phillip Grace says.

Due to the government shutdown, the National Park Service has barricaded the overlooks. According to a spokeswoman, the area falls under NPS jurisdiction and is subject to the same rules as hundreds of other closed parks and memorials. She added that because Congress has not appropriated any funds to the NPS, the agency can’t maintain the areas, collect trash or sweep road debris.

“That’s what we’ve heard, that everhign is kind of blocked off,” says Chris Horner, a visitor from the Seattle, Wash., area. “It’s disappointing.”

Barricades all over the District have frustration building. At the World War II memorial, a group of elderly veterans broke through anyway earlier this week.

A few blocks away on the National Mall, another barricade is raising eyebrows - this time because people either miss it or ignore it all together.

“We actually were thinking it’s kind of a joke that it says ‘this site is closed’,” says Dana Khoyi, a tourist from Massachusetts. Khoyi is visiting with his brother Dara who lives in Florida. They chose D.C. as their middle ground meeting point. Maybe Congress can take a lesson.

“I’m seeing the sign that says that this Mall is closed,” Dara says. “But this is our park. It doesn’t cost anything to keep it open and I don’t think anybody should be excluded from it.”

From National Mall to the roads that take you there, barricades are beginning to define the define the District.