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Open Klingle For All
Copyright DC Watch, March 6, 2003
By Peter McGee
Klingle Road served thousands daily before 1991, when the city blocked
the road temporarily pending its repair after a summer deluge. Repairs
were interrupted, however, by the local Sierra Club. As a result, DC
needlessly has wasted many years and hundreds of thousands of dollars on
environmental and traffic studies, and travelers waste time and money
every day idling in Cleveland Park traffic congestion . . . and this is
only the beginning. Now Mayor Williams wants to rebuild Klingle Road,
but ban the driving public, spending millions on the "Klingle Road
Bicycle Facility," a misleading name for an emergency road closed to all
but bikers and hikers. Rebuilding Klingle Road so it will support
emergency vehicles, and restricting it to bicycles, makes no sense,
won't save money, and won't benefit most the taxpaying public who will
fund a road they can't use.
Klingle Road was never officially closed, yet this administration is
sidestepping its duty to keep our road available for its one official
purpose -- a public road. Tax dollars are being wasted to justify caving
in to slick political lobbying and the "local community" -- a wealthy
enclave that benefits most from turning our historic parkway into a
hike/bike trail. Let's stop the shell game. If the Mayor can spend
public money to rebuild Klingle Road for motorized vehicles -- large
ones, like fire trucks and utility repair vehicles -- the Mayor can let
the public drive cars on it. DC had always planned to keep Klingle Road
open, anyway. Starting in 1991, the Department of Public Works spent
$240K on a reconstruction plan, awarded the contract to a small DC
business east of the Anacostia, obtained full approval (4f) from the
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Department of the
Interior, and had federal funds obligated.
Then, private threats by the local Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund
brought the Klingle Road restoration project to a standstill. The local
Sierra Club claimed that the National Park Service's Environmental
Assessment was insufficient and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
was required. In fact, an EIS was not required, since Klingle Road is an
existing road and predates the Environmental Protection Act.
Nevertheless, FHWA gave in and unilaterally de-obligated the road repair
funds. Instead of fixing the road, we've been paying for studies ever
since. Significantly, no study has uncovered any reason, environmental
or otherwise, to compel closure of Klingle. Ironically, due to
continuing neglect, Klingle Road today is a human health hazard, and
traffic in Cleveland Park only gets worse.
The other proposal to ease the congestion is widen the Porter and
Connecticut intersection, an unlikely option with unknown costs and
consequences. Those who say "Save Klingle Valley" really want to "Close
Klingle Road." Their end game is to make Rock Creek Park a car-free
zone. As a result, we've endured years of expensive studies just in the
effort to close Klingle. It would cost taxpayers millions to convert
this historic parkway, which served thousands every day, into a short,
steep, heavy-duty bike trail that few will ever use. Moreover, closing
Klingle is divisive, and makes solving the traffic problem in Cleveland
Park more difficult and expensive, if not impossible. The politicized
process will pave the way to close other parkways in Rock Creek Park,
and further compromise our transportation system.
The city's duty to repair and maintain
our public roads is fundamental, and must not be undermined by
demagoguery and politics. Stop wasteful spending. Repair Klingle Road