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Mayor Fenty Moves on Restoration of Klingle Road

Mar 24, 2008
by Michael Neibauer, The Examiner

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - The 17-year wait for restoration of Klingle Road through Northwest D.C. may finally be coming to an end, as Mayor Adrian Fentys proposed 2009 budget includes $2 million to jump-start the controversial project.

Ward 1 D.C. Councilman Jim Graham, who represents the eastern side of the shuttered three-quarter-mile link between Mount Pleasant and Woodley Park, said Sunday he and Fenty had agreed to finance the $11 million project with D.C. money instead of federal funds reducing delays caused by the lengthy federal authorization process.

The mayor and I are determined to fund the Klingle Road reconstruction through local capital dollars, Graham said. We want to reconstruct it and by avoiding federal funding we will hopefully minimize these federal approvals.

But Ward 3 D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh, who represents Cleveland Park, called the allocation unfortunate and the project an environmental mistake.

That area is a gorge subject to very serious flooding and we can expect to spend millions more to prevent the road from eroding yet again, Cheh said in an e-mail.

The short stretch of road was damaged by flooding and closed in 1991, shutting off a bypass used by some 3,200 cars a day. An ugly, years long fight later ensued over reopening the byway, pitting environmentalists and a vocal group of wealthy residents on the west end of Klingle against commuters who used the road to cross town.

The council voted in 2003 to press forward with restoration of the road and installation of a storm water management system. The project was to commence in mid-2004, but the only work undertaken so far has been a yet-unfinished environmental study that requires Federal Highway Administration approval.

The $2 million allocation is slated for infrastructure, cleanup and working toward completion of the [environmental impact statement] process, a D.C. transportation department spokeswoman said.

Any kind of movement is good movement, said Laurie Collins of Mount Pleasant.

The Sierra Clubs D.C. chapter has lobbied to maintain Klingle Valley, including the road, as a park off-limits to motor vehicles. The ravine, which sinks under Connecticut Avenue, is really one of the jewels of the [National Park] system, said Jim Dougherty, the environmental groups legal chairman. The club is strongly considering legal action, he said.

Copyright The Examiner

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