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Mendelson Should Be Leading Effort to Repair Klingle Road

June 13, 2002
By Paul McKenzie

It's hard to swallow At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson's claim that he truly represents the interests of our entire city. His most recent "flip-flop" decision on Klingle Road is case in point and only serves to fuel a "nimbyism" attitude in some locations west of the park. This is one of the reasons we see division in this city. Recent press reports indicate a substantial number of people in Washington feel the city is headed in the wrong direction. We suffer from a lack of citywide leadership in this case.

Mendelson's flip-flops on the issue of repairing Klingle Road are a case in point. His suggestion to repair Klingle Road so it could support emergency equipment, if needed, but not allow DC residents to drive on this public road is blatantly wrong. Small groups of people benefit, while the rest of us are forced to pay for the road repair, wait longer to cycle through stoplights, and sit in idling cars that create more pollution. Is this fair? Is it sensible? If the city has to build a road for utility and emergency vehicles, in order to not lose the right of way, it must be engineered to accommodate heavy equipment vehicles, utility repair vehicles, and fire and emergency vehicles. Without doubt, an average car would be able to use the road as well. There is no logical reason to deny access to the driving public. And to top it all off, this heavy utility/emergency vehicle option would not cost less!

So, along comes a single interest group that wants to close a public road. It advocates for essentially one small residential area, taking a narrow position solely in its own interest, to the detriment of the rest of the city. What is most distressing about their communications is how they play fast and loose with the facts on this road closing, i.e., traffic issues, pollution, home land security and safety in the park. As always, we need forthrightness from our politicians, complete airing and understanding of the facts, and honest discussion, not fiction, for the greater good of all Washington's citizens. Our elected representatives should not cater to a few in this case who complain about "trucks lumbering" down their street. Oh, wouldn't we all, at times, like to close the public street in front of our house? But we can't because a road closing in one place only serves to move traffic to another place. Our representatives should look at the big picture. A well-planned street grid serves to distribute vehicle traffic across all roads. The roads belong to everyone, resident or visitor. We all share the responsibility for making this city work for bikers, drivers, bus riders, pedestrians and all types of emergency vehicles. Klingle Road is an integral part of Washington's historic street grid and must be restored. Klingle Road needs to be repaired.

For additional information, please email support@repairklingleroad.org