Gridlock - DDOT Fails to Use Highway Funds Effectively
Copyright The Washington Times
By Laurie Collins
The D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) recently announced
that it received a huge, $155 million windfall of federal highway funds
from the canceled Barney Circle project, yet none of that $155 million
will be used to repair Klingle Road, a long-broken and vital link across
Rock Creek Park in Northwest City officials have first-hand knowledge of
how important access to Klingle Road is to those who drive in the
District, as demonstrated by the vigorous correspondence of Repair
Klingle Road's supporters and the votes of affected Advisory
Neighborhood Commissions. The barricade across Klingle Road literally
cuts one-half of northwest Washington from the other and impedes traffic
on nearby major arteries such as Connecticut Avenue and Porter Street in
Traffic once carried by Klingle Road has been forced onto Porter and
Macomb, nearby residential streets. Porter Street already carried over
14,000 vehicle trips per day when Klingle was shut down. It now
struggles to handle traffic volumes far beyond its maximum capacity;
Macomb Street, which previously carried 3,000 vehicles per day, now
carries over 8,000 vehicles.
Fewer roads in Cleveland and Woodley Park mean more traffic and more air
pollution in densely populated neighborhoods, more wasted gasoline, and
more wasted time. Public safety and emergency preparedness are
compromised, and federal and local tax dollars are wasted as Klingle
Road becomes increasingly more expensive to repair due to neglect.
The mayor cannot limit the function of a public road. The District
government has the duty to repair and preserve a dedicated road for full
use by all D.C. taxpayers, not just those who choose to bike or are able
to walk. By purposefully failing to allocate funds for its repair and
with willful disregard for the wishes of the vast majority of residents
who were affected, the government, then and now, worked to the detriment
of many for the benefit of a privileged few and, through neglect,
actively demolished Klingle Road.
The city's failure to direct any of the money from the Barney Circle
project's federal funds to Klingle Road's long-standing disrepair, and
its failure to repair a road that has never been officially closed and
remains the city's obligation to repair, neglects the very environment
the city bureaucrats and the mayor claim to cherish. It is as
embarrassing as it is wrong.
Yet, here we are six months later, and the city is embarking on an $85
million road-resurfacing project funded by federal largesse.
The city has a fundamental duty to keep our public roads in good repair.
Repairing Klingle Road would better serve our transportation needs than
a hike/bike trail; and D.C. than would benefit more by restoring and
preserving the road for its historic purpose in the city's road grid. As
we strive to reduce suburban sprawl, revitalize our inner-city core and
provide better public transportation services, we must repair and
maintain our existing urban road infrastructure. The fact that the city
has intentionally and consistently bypassed this and other opportunities
to repair Klingle Road by using federal funds is inexcusable.
The environmental arguments are false. The road must be rebuilt, with
access for utilities and emergency vehicles in order not to lose the
right of way and to service the water, sewer and electrical utilities to
nearby homes and apartment buildings. Therefore, it must be engineered
to accommodate heavy equipment vehicles, utility repair vehicles and
fire and emergency vehicles. Surely, an average car will be able to use
such a road. There is no logical reason to deny access to the driving
public once this type of road construction takes place.
To paraphrase Mayor Anthony Williams' testimony before Congress in favor
of reopening the closed section of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the
As we work to rebuild the District, our
ability to use Klingle Road is fundamental to our economic viability
and social unity. We cannot continue to divide the people on the east
from the people on the west.
Laurie Collins is vice chair of
Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1E and is the chair of the Public
Safety Committee of ANC 1E of Mount Pleasant.