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Open Klingle Road - The DC Council Should Not Give in to an Obstructionist Minority

MAYOR ADRIAN M. Fenty (D) has more than proved his mettle in taking on such entrenched interests as the District school system and the city's cabbies. But even he may be no match for the few but powerful opponents of reopening Klingle Road. The setback to his plans to restore and reopen the road is sad testament to how the best interests of the public can be trampled by the wants of a self-interested minority.

The latest chapter of the 17-year saga of Klingle Road came on April 30 when a D.C. Council committee voted to stop the mayor from using $2 million to begin work on the project. For some 100 years, this Northwest Washington road was a key crosstown connector across Rock Creek Park before flooding led to part of it being closed in 1991. Lack of money to fix the road allowed residents of surrounding neighborhoods to use it as a recreation area, even though no decision was ever made to abandon its use as a road. 

In fact, after exhaustive study and debate, the council determined five years ago that the public interest would be best served by reopening the road. Council members considered the inconvenience of those stuck in the daily traffic congestion of a city with few east-west options as well as the testimony by public safety authorities about the road's use in helping to protect life and property. Residents with access to hundreds of acres of parkland really didn't need this additional sliver. 

The council's vote should have ended the matter, but opponents conducted endless appeals, causing foot-dragging and inaction by local and federal authorities. Mr. Fenty hoped to jump-start the project with local funds but his proposal fell victim to an ambush led by advocates for the neighborhood's interests. The committee's vote was particularly shortsighted in that it prevents repairs that would address urgent environmental issues.

It is intolerable that opponents now use the success of their obstruction to support their argument that the road is really not needed. Mr. Fenty should not give up. And in voting next week on the mayor's $5.7 billion budget, the council should not give in.


Copyright The Washington Post

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