I read in the Washington Post that the National Capital Region
Transportation Planning Board has invested many years and millions of
dollars in "visioning" and other exercises designed to try to change the
way people travel and live, but almost no time or money on addressing
how people actually choose to travel and live. A recent regional
publication advises that if area officials order an evacuation, people
should "avoid heavily congested arteries and use alternate routes."
Thousands of residents choose to travel and include Klingle Road in
their lives. It is inconceivable that we are debating rebuilding Klingle
Road and not letting cars use it. To hear these people who want to take
a road away from this city for a dog walk is purely selfish. The park is
hardly utilized in the first place.
While our country is at war, our urban life continues to adjust. We saw
intense gridlock from one guy on a tractor. We need our roads. We're
going to rebuild Klingle Road -- let's make it a road for all of us to
Council members Cropp, Schwartz, Fenty, and Graham gave an outstanding
performance at the Klingle Road hearing. They were well prepared, had
their facts straight, and were still going strong when the government
witnesses arrived in the early evening. The National Park Service, after
numerous questions from Ms. Cropp and Ms. Schwartz, was absolutely
satisfied that whatever DC decided, whatever road was built, that all
environmental concerns would be addressed.
While Washington may be a target -- one man on a tractor managed
complete gridlock in our city for days -- how could we ever think to
build a road and not allow cars to use it? Rock Creek Park is already a
quiet sanctuary -- the trails and bike paths both underutilized. These
very people who want to close Klingle Road now want to close Beach Drive
seven days a week and make Rock Creek Park a "car-free" zone. Surely in
these ever-changing times, we aren't seriously entertaining these ideas?
Keep our options open.
Keep Klingle and Beach open.
I had the pleasure of jogging from my home in Mount Pleasant to Silver
Spring through Rock Creek Park on Saturday. It was an absolutely perfect
day to be in the park. What blew me away was how few people seemed to
agree with me. I passed no more than two dozen groups of people on the
entire five-mile length of Beach Drive. Much of the time I was alone in
the park. What does this have to do with Klingle Road? Quite simply, we
don't need more park. Rock Creek Park is the largest inner-city park in
the country. It's beautiful, it's underutilized, and it serves those few
who choose to enjoy it very well in its current incarnation. On a
gorgeous day on the weekend, large stretches of its most accessible
areas were vacant. How would adding a tiny new section of nearly
inaccessible land that is Klingle Road -- it's steep, it has no parking,
and it's not particularly useful compared to the extensive network of
trails that already exist -- serve the needs of the majority of
citizens? The answer is, it doesn't.
All I can think when I hear the rallying cries of the so-called
environmentalists is "selfish." They want to add another acre to their
empire, which is already a vast sanctuary, barely used by most people in
the city. I hear they want to close Beach Drive all day during the week
as well, further restricting enjoyment of the park apparently to people
who don't work during the week and might otherwise be able to drive
through it, which I presently do every day. The park is already a jewel
in the middle of a big city, truly a treasure that is unmatched in any
other city to the few people who choose to enjoy it. Yet that isn't
enough. The very same people who are able to get the most benefit from
it, those who live closest or have the time and/or physical ability to
walk or run or bike through the park anytime they want, want to take
more, close doors, further restricting access. This is not fair, it is
wrong, and it does not suit the needs most residents of Washington, DC.
Klingle Road Hearing
William H. Carroll
On March 13, the District of Columbia Council held a hearing on two
Klingle Road bills. The bill sponsored by City Council Chair Linda
Cropp; Chair of the Public Works Committee, Carol Schwartz, and several
other Councilmembers requires the DC Government to fully repair Klingle
Road, NW. A bill introduced on behalf of the city's Mayor seeks
authority to partially repair the road for use as a "hike/bike trail."
Both plans rely upon federal funding.
Chairman Cropp elicited testimony from the Federal Highway
Administration that, whichever bill is passed, the FHA will defer to
local interests. She obtained National Park Service agreement that, as
long as there is no additional taking of national park land, NPS will
respect the bill which is passed by our DC government. Bolstered by a
legal opinion from the City Council's legal counsel, Councilmembers
Adrian Fenty and Schwartz demonstrated that the Mayor's plan constitutes
a "road closing," that can only be authorized by the Council under
applicable law. Councilmembers Cropp and Schwartz also exposed
assumptions underlying the Mayor's cost projections that can only be
described, charitably, as reckless disregard of reality. In sum, the
Council's examination of federal and DC government witnesses was a
splendid and significant exercise of our limited form of home-rule
Prior to examining government witnesses, the Council patiently and
respectfully accepted six and one-half hours of testimony from over one
hundred DC residents, much of which was passionately delivered. Rightly
so, from the perspective of this supporter of the Cropp/Schwartz bill.
From 1885 until its partial collapse due to city government neglect in
1991, Klingle Road functioned as part of the DC infrastructure. Pushing
non-Klingle Road agenda, such as closing Rock Creek to all automobiles
and preventing residential development in Cleveland Park, hike/bike path
supporters are attempting to exploit the District Government's
mendacious neglect of its responsibility to maintain and repair this
infrastructure component. All DC citizens should rally to support the
City Council's responsible, deliberate and professional effort to
rectify the Mayor's abdication of responsibility.