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Klingle Road Redux

Washington Post
Sunday, May 11, 2003

THE D.C. COUNCIL acted in the best interest of all District residents when it voted last week to reopen Klingle Road. Restored and repaved, Klingle Road will become the key route across Rock Creek Park that it was for at least 100 years before flooding led to its closure in 1991. That it has taken nearly 12 years to resolve this dispute is a wonder in itself. But public safety needs -- the use of the road by emergency first responders and law enforcement agencies -- and the importance of easing traffic congestion on the Connecticut Avenue artery have finally won out over the desire of some to turn that critical road into a recreational path.

The motion by Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) to reject Klingle Road's historic status would have made the crosstown thoroughfare off-limits to ambulances, fire trucks and wheelchair transport services. The council's 8 to 5 vote against his motion was a victory for people who are, as Robert A. Malson, president of the D.C. Hospital Association, said, "about the business of providing hospital care and saving lives." A reopened Klingle Road also links neighborhoods on both sides of Rock Creek Park.

To be sure, the closure of Klingle Road has been a convenience for some. But as we've noted before, it has burdened large numbers of other taxpayers who for decades used the road as a crosstown alternative and as an access road to Rock Creek Park. Moreover, public safety officials from the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 36 and employee groups representing paramedics and emergency medical technicians, as well as the D.C. Hospital Association, have said that Klingle Road is vital to the protection of life and property. But for an accident of nature, there would be no Klingle Road controversy today. There need not be one now.

The council has spoken. The mayor, recognizing that the democratic process has taken its course, has said he will abide by the council's decision to repave the road. It is regrettable that some opponents of reopening the road would now threaten litigation to get their way. But District leaders, on behalf of the city, must stay on the course they have wisely chosen.

  2003 The Washington Post Company 

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