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Myths and Facts

Myth: Closing Klingle Road will Save Klingle Valley.

Fact: Closing Klingle Road will continue the urban degradation of Klingle Valley that has taken place over the past ten years, and will deprive the majority of D.C. citizens the enjoyment of Klingle Valley that we had for many decades.  Klingle Road used to be make Klingle Valley accessible to all:  hikers, bikers, automobiles, police, fire/rescue, city maintenance vehicles.  Klingle Valley, without its historic road, now fosters illegal dumping, drug use, the homeless, and gang activity.  The longer the road stays closed, the more these activities will fester.

Myth: The Sierra Club supports the closing of Klingle Road.

Fact: The national Sierra Club has no position on Klingle Road.  The local Sierra Club has no published vote or position, and has never polled its membership, on Klingle Road.  Many current members of the local Sierra Club support saving Klingle Road.

Myth: Klingle Valley Park is threatened.

Fact: The repair of the road does not pose a threat to Klingle Valley. Klingle Road and the Klingle Valley have co-existed for more than 100 years.

MythKlingle Road has been identified as a point source polluter of Rock Creek.

Fact:  Klingle Valley is a source for organics and toxics from non-point sources and combined sewer overflow.  See for yourself at the EPA website.  In fact, other tributaries of Rock Creek, like Broad Branch and Piney Branch, are non-point source polluters too -- shall we close every road leading into Rock Creek Park?

Myth: This is a proposed road.

Fact: Klingle Road is an existing road that predates Connecticut Avenue, Cleveland Park, and most of Woodley Park.  Every one of the surrounding roads was built after Klingle Road was built in the mid-1800's.  The transportation system in the area was developed with Klingle Road at its foundation.  Closing Klingle Road pulls the rug out, and the result is an unsafe and broken system.

MythRepairing Klingle Road will lead to more traffic.

Fact:  Repairing Klingle Road won't lead to more cars in our City, any more than closing the road will lead to fewer cars.  No one is going to start driving a car because we repair 4/10ths of a mile along the middle of Klingle Road.  Does building more schools lead to overpopulation?

Myth: There is corporate pressure to reopen the road.

Fact:  The citizens are responding because we need relief from the traffic congestion and because there are serious public (human) safety issues.  We are tired of being forced to travel through congested residential side streets and enduring dangerous traffic patterns and taking more time than before.  All of this could be alleviated by the repair of our street. It is an issue of fairness, safety and quality of life.

MythKlingle Valley is too dangerous for a road.

Fact:  Klingle Valley has had this road for more than 100 years.  Whats dangerous is having vehicular traffic that formerly traveled on Klingle Road now travel through residential streets that were never intended to carry such traffic.  Whats dangerous is that the response time for emergency vehicles is harmed by the delay in repairing this necessary east-west public artery.  What's dangerous is the amount of extra traffic that is forced through the hazardous intersection at Connecticut and Porter...

MythThe right of way should be transferred to the residents nearby or the federal government.

Fact:  Klingle Road belongs to all of us.  It is owned by the City.  It is not part of Rock Creek Park.  It is public property of the citizens of D.C., and listed as a public highway under the DC Code, Title 7, Chapter 1.  As such, the road belongs to all of us.

MythRebuilding will divert funds from other necessary District projects.

Fact:  One of the City's primary functions is keeping its streets in good repair for the safety and welfare of its citizens.  The quality of life and safety of our neighborhoods is extremely important, as is relieving undue burden on residential streets.

Plus, DC is in the process of rebuilding its roads and has funds available from its surplus.  The restoration of Klingle Road is long overdue, and will spur economic development.

MythWe dont have the money to repair the road.

Fact:  DC has a surplus and has budgeted the funds to address each of the options under consideration, according to testimony this year from the DPW.

MythThis is a green space (environmental) issue.

Fact:  This is a public rights and a public safety issue, not a green space issue.  Spending millions of dollars to remove Klingle Road will add almost nothing to our green space; less than 1/10th of 1% of the  1,754 acres that make up Rock Creek Park, one of the largest forested urban parks in the United States.  This expensive street removal, the cost of which is not subsidized by Federal dollars, adds nothing to DCs already abundant urban forested area.

MythThe Department of Public Works is bound by a promise in 1995 to permanently close the road.

Fact:  While no one can dispute that an officer of the DPW issued such an announcement in 1995 due to the private influence of a few wealthy individuals who live on or near Klingle Road (See McGrory, M Washington Post, May 23, 1995), closing roads is not within DPW's authority.  The fact is that the decision to permanently close a public road lies with the Mayor and the City Council, requires a detailed proposal to the Council, a public hearing with input from various public agencies and the ANCs, and a determination from the DC Council that the road is unnecessary -- none of this has ever happened.  Closing Klingle Road would be unprecedented.  Moreover, far from being unnecessary, Klingle Road road is necessary for public safety of persons and property, and to relieve the undue burden on our residential streets.  DPW in recent meetings has assured its citizens that no decision to close the road has been made.  All of the surrounding ANC's have voted to re-open the road.

MythKlingle Road is not necessary since it has been closed for 10 years.

Fact:  Klingle Road was never lawfully closed.  The passage of time has not reduced the need for this road.  On the contrary, the road is needed now more than ever, as an alternate cross-town (east-west) route.  It is the only cross town artery that provides a short cut from 16th Street to the Wisconsin and Reno Road areas, passing underneath Connecticut Avenue to Woodley Road.  Its the right way to get back and forth between 16th Street and Wisconsin Avenue and upper Georgetown, without going through residential streets.  Since its closure, traffic that would normally travel through the park on Klingle Road is now forced to use Connecticut and surrounding densely populated residential streets like yours, such as Porter, Tilden, Macomb, Newark, Ordway and cross streets like 34th and 36th Street.  As a result, we believe that accidents are happening more frequently along these residential streets. Some of us witnessed an accident in July at Newark and 34th Street (Reno).  A resident on that block agreed that the closing of Klingle has contributed to an increase in congestion and accidents on these residential streets.

Moreover, Klingle Road provides redundancy that is vital to our fragile system of streets in Northwest D.C., as evidenced by the recent work being done on Porter Street at Connecticut.  When any one of the cross-town streets is closed, the remaining streets cannot handle the excess burden.  Klingle Road is a vital artery that should not be severed.

Myth: Klingle Road has hairpin turns.

Fact: Klingle Road has no hairpin turns -- just look at the map.  Even if it did, so do almost ALL of the roads in the Park, as well as Beach Drive, and so do the roads now being taken as alternate routes to Klingle Road, such as the route through the National Zoo. All of the park's serpentine roads were designed as pleasure drives.  The present road system continues to reflect their original purpose of providing public access to the enjoyment of extraordinary rural scenery.  Although adapted to the automobile, the designed alignment, width and environmental surroundings of these scenic roads has not substantially changed since the 1920s. (National Register of Historic Places).

Myth: 1,400 citizens from all over the city petitioned to keep Klingle Road for themselves.

FactThose who want the road closed made the mistake of bragging that these petitions were collected outside of the Giant Food Store at Wisconsin and Macomb.  How many of those signatures were from citizens in zip codes 20010, 20011 and 20012?  Even if one million signatures were collected, the fact is that we live in a democracy.  Therefore, one group cannot band together to deny the civil rights or property of another group. There is a process for the closing of a road.  To close the road, the Mayor must present a detailed proposal to the Council - which must determine that we do not need the road.  Gathering petitions and imposing your will is not the American way.

MythWe know the road is unnecessary because we monitored it for a day, at 34th and Woodley.

Fact:  This may not be the best indicator.  DC traffic authorities said the traffic doubled at Connecticut and Porter because of the closure.  The police department also opposed its closure for public safety reasons.  Moreover, the necessity of the road should be presumed since it existed for 100 years, serving this function.  For those who want to deprive the citizens of DC of our road, you have the burden of showing that DC does not need this east west artery.  To fairly and accurately gauge this, the City needs to hear from the people who would use the road, including the emergency service vehicles, rather than the ones who never used it and would not use it now.  The people who actually used the road before, the citizens who predate 1990 and those who would use it now when it is restored to us want it open.  Ask the citizens in Crestwood, which is an adjacent community east of the park and less than 1 mile from Klingle Road.  They want our road back.  Indeed, those primarily and negatively impacted by the closure live in zip codes 20010, 20011 and 20012.  Ask the cab drivers.  Ask the ambulance drivers who sometimes cant get through Connecticut and Porter.  Ask the citizens of Mt. Pleasant.  Ask most of the citizens of Cleveland Park and Woodley Park.  The majority wants the road repaired.

MythOpening Klingle is a recipe for disaster for the school children in the area.

Fact:  Continuing to delay the repair is courting disaster. Think about it.  Right now, all of that traffic is being diverted up and around the John Eaton School on Macomb Street and down the residential streets leading to it. Children are crossing there.  Some of that traffic would not be going up Macomb, right at the playground, if we could travel up Klingle to Woodley. Keeping Klingle Road closed is not helping the children or parents of the other schools, either because it is denying an available artery and adding to the congestion.  Some of the parents have been involved in traffic accidents along Wisconsin Avenue because the families and children were forced to take the more congested routes, instead of Klingle.  The myth that closing Klingle Road will promote the safety of school children, taken to its logical end, would support the closure of all roads leading to and surrounding every school in the City.

MythKlingle Road is poorly planned because it opens onto residential streets.

Fact:  It is the nature of east-west arteries that they provide a connection to the side streets.  Plus, Klingle Road predates Connecticut Avenue.  We are not talking constructing a new road.  Klingle Road follows a stream valley, as is common practice in road building -- just look at some other local examples:  Piney Branch Parkway, Beach Drive, Tilden Street, Rock Creek Parkway, just to name a few.

MythCivic organizations and local papers want it closed.

Fact:  Which civic organizations?  Every affected ANC supports repairing the road.  The citizens and civic organizations negatively impacted want our road repaired and reopened.  There was an article in the Washington Post September 10, 2000 Close to Home section illustrating this point.

MythKlingle Road should be saved for the birds and wildlife.

Fact:  Klingle Road has more value serving its intended and historic purpose, as an east-west road.  We have Rock Creek Park, including Klingle Valley Park, for the birds.  Ironically, the wildlife on Klingle Road lately is more of the human kind.  Our road has become a haven for thieves and vandals, who pick up and discard stolen property there and a dump for refrigerators, sofas and mounds of debris.  Klingle Road is being used by gangs who have left graffiti under the bridges and derelicts have begun to congregate there, too.

MythKlingle Road is more valuable as green space.

Fact:  Klingle Road accounts for less than 2 acres, as compared to the 1,700 acres that is D.C.s Rock Creek Park, which itself is one of the largest urban forested parks in the country.  Klingle Road does not provide any additional usable picnic or park space.  Klingle Road is a road.  It is not a valley or a park.  Its function, for more than 100 years, is that of a road.  There are no fields near Klingle Road and no places to park.  One side of the road drops to a deep incline.  The other side is a steep embankment.  There is no park land on either side of the road that is usable for recreation.

MythIf we reopen Klingle, the developers will build 1,000 houses on the Tregaron Estate, and we will lose our land.

Fact:  Zoning and land use problems are not solved by closing roads.  Besides, access to Tregaron remains as open as ever, both from Klingle Road and from Macomb Street, which is the most accessible driveway anyway.  Opening Klingle will have no impact on the development of Tregaron.  Moreover, developers have tried several times in the past without success, even when Klingle Road was operational -- the citizens against development have always prevailed.  There is no factual basis for these concerns.  Nevertheless to the extent there is a concern, there are ways (perhaps zoning restrictions or putting the land in trust -- now there would be a nice park!) to safeguard the uses of the surrounding land since it could be viewed as historic, should there be other concerns.

MythKlingle Valley was part of Frederick Law Olmstead's vision.

Fact:  Klingle Road was in existence long before Mr. Olmstead was born.

MythWe have to go through the environmental impact analyses if we want to use federal money.

Fact:  A number of roads have been repaired in DC using federal dollars without going through this process.  Recent examples include the Porter Street construction, Tilden Street, and the Park Road bridge.  You may also want to watch the communitys interest in the Broad Branch project.  No other road in the history of DC has required any environmental study, except for the years that have been wasted on Klingle Road.

MythThe Environmental Protection Act requires this red tape.

Fact:  Not so. Klingle Road predates the 1995 EPA.  The regulations also specifically state This regulation does not apply to, or alter, approvals prior to the effective date of this regulation.  Klingle Road has existed for more than 100 years.

MythThe repair of Klingle Road has a major environmental impact.

Fact:  The repair of this street does not fit any category of action generally covered by the EPA.  Those actions include highway and urban mass transportation projects, a new fixed rail system or the new construction or extension to accommodate high occupancy vehicles.  Klingle Road has one lane in each direction and is less than a half mile long.  It is not new construction. This is not major.

MythThese delays are necessary because of the opposition to avoid litigation later.

Fact:  The regulations indicate that alternative courses of action and all decisions should be in the public interest, not private interest, and be based on a balanced consideration of the need for safe and efficient transportation. The regulations provide a number of outs.  To the extent more is needed, the regulations also provide for categorical exclusions, which are exceptions that would permit the City to move ahead.  Besides, what legal basis exists, what gravamen is there, if DPW simply does its job?  On what basis can our Department of Public Works be sued if it fixes a public road?

MythThe studies are required and justify the delays.

Fact:  It is unprecedented that a street repair require an environmental impact study.  The restoration of Klingle Road is an important traffic and public safety issue of public interest.  The repair needs to happen, without any further delay, before your traffic congestion gets any worse.  The City is on a promising upswing.  We need the Mayor and the Council to take action now, and for all of us.

Myth: Public transportation service could not be provided on Klingle Road.

Fact:  Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) requires roadways with a minimum lane width of 10 feet to provide bus service.  Since Klingle Road is a two lane road at least 30 feet wide, bus service could be provided.

A decision to provide such service would depend on the need for bus service based on activity centers served, passenger demand along the proposed route, proximity to other routes, and availability of funding.

Myth:  Klingle Road carried an insignificant amount (2%) of traffic across Rock Creek Park, similar to volumes on the Zoo Road. 

Fact: Klingle Road carried 3,200 vehicles per day, 200 in each direction during peak hours, a significant amount of traffic.  Opponents include traffic volumes on roads miles from Klingle Road, such as Military Road, to arrive at the 2% figure.  Traffic that traveled on Klingle Road does not use Military Road as an alternative.  Instead, the traffic uses Porter Street.  DPW figures showed that traffic at Porter and Connecticut doubled after Klingle Road closure.  The Zoo Road does not replace Klingle Road:  traffic figures for the Zoo Road show the number of people who drive to the National Zoo. 

Myth:  We should solve our traffic problems by concentrating traffic onto large, central arteries. 

Fact: This is a recipe for gridlock.  The advantage of D.C.'s grid system of roads is that it provides alternate routes that we can use to get around traffic problems.  Limiting to traffic to a few major arteries would spell disaster in the event one of the arteries becomes blocked or closed.  In the area of Klingle Road, the grid system is very spread out -- cross-town roads are 1/2 to 1 mile apart.  Klingle Road provides an important alternative route for getting across town and avoiding traffic problems.

Myth:  By closing Klingle Road, it's only a 5-block detour.

FactAssumes that we are going to Woodley and Reno. What if we are going to Maret, for example, or the Washington International School? Also, this analysis misses the forest for the trees. Opening Klingle will have a beneficial impact on traffic all around Cleveland Park, not just for those who would travel on Klingle, but for the many tens of thousands who travel on Connecticut Avenue and Porter Street as well.  Also, you have to travel on more heavily congested roads, through more stop lights, and cross Conn. Ave.

Myth:  Current traffic levels do not justify opening Klingle Road.

Fact:  We live in the third most traffic congested city in the nation. Just how bad would traffic have to get?

Myth:  Can always open Klingle Road later (when traffic gets worse).

Fact:  Klingle Road is an historic road, built in an earlier day. Once this historic road is lost, it may not be possible to build it again.

For additional information, please email support@repairklingleroad.org