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Sprawl & Crawl:  Open Klingle Road?
Steve Eldridge

Published: Monday, July 18, 2005 8:13 PM EDT

It's not a major thoroughfare, but it makes for one of the most ridiculous dramas to watch District officials and residents square off over Klingle Road, a little two-lane connector road within the Rock Creek Park. The road was closed by a severe storm back in 1991, and at the time the city didn't have the money to restore it to operation. Several very well-connected and wealthy homeowners, including one well-known television commentator, have long viewed the closed area as their own private parkland and have fought against any moves to reopen the road.

Now the city has released a draft environmental impact study which says that, yes, the road should be reopened because it connects a number of neighborhoods and because it makes it easier for fire equipment to get to several others. It's an argument that shouldn't have to be made, but one that has become necessary because the city opened the issue up for discussion. The homeowners are livid, but their only argument is that the road behind the homes they live in will actually carry cars, as it was designed to, rather than become a rather pricey dog watch and a picnic area for those who have been leaving beer bottles and needles down there for years. All of this begs the question: Would you want cars or crackheads going through your backyard?

As with everything in the District, this matter is still a long way from resolution. After all, this is the city that is seriously considering tearing down the Whitehurst Freeway, a major commuter and supply route into the city's west side and a road on which millions of dollars were recently spent to refurbish. Keep this up, and eventually we'll have to ask the last person left in the city of Washington to "please turn out the lights behind you."

The InterCounty Connector IS a major thoroughfare, and a major point of controversy. Responding to last week's piece on this topic, our good friend Carl writes from Rockville: "The ICC wouldn't improve the great majority of area trips. It would even make many intersections worse. It supports sprawl and long-distance commutes. It would take $2.4 billion away from higher-priority transit projects. It would destroy farms both directly and through the sprawl it would support. Feeding ourselves will be a growing challenge as oil production declines. We should put a far higher value on farmland.

"Majority support alone is a weak argument. Indeed, this majority disappears when the question is rephrased. A majority of Marylanders believe we should focus our transportation investments on transit rather than more highways. Decisions to build any large facility involve trade-offs. 'Do you support the ICC?' is far less valid than a question asking which is the higher priority - transit or more highways."

Questions, comments, random musings? Write to Steve@SprawlandCrawl.com and listen to Steve's reports on NewsTalk WMET 1160 AM every weekday at 7:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.


For additional information, please email support@repairklingleroad.org