Saturday, April 26, 2008

Klingle Road: Mary Cheh Responds

From the ongoing discussion on the Cleveland Park Listserv:

There have been a few recent posts concerning Klingle Road, including one purporting to quote me as not concerned with Porter Street. The undocumented quote is simply false. But the current dialogue on this list serve offers the opportunity to again set out my position, a position I have consistently held and shared.

The particular segment of Klingle Road under discussion (and there are many pieces of Klingle Road around the area) is less than one mile long, and I think it should remain closed. It has been closed for about 17 years. This section begins at Porter on the west side of Rock Creek Park and travels in a south westerly direction to Woodley, where traffic empties onto local streets. DDOT determined that closing it had a negligible effect on traffic flow because it was very lightly used.

Restoring the road is economically unsound and environmentally harmful. Restoration will cost at least $11 million dollars, and maintenance will be very expensive since the area is subject to severe flooding. The former road was both narrow, with 2 lanes and no city land for shoulders (still the case today), and subject to severe icing. The federal and local dollars can and should be reallocated to any number of greater needs.

At the same time, this land is a beautiful addition to the park and an opportunity to add an additional buffer to the creek and its tributaries. A road causes significant run-off, adds pollution, and degrades the beauty and health of the area. Not surprisingly the environmental groups such as the Sierra Club favor the continued
closure of the road. And, because of the width constraints, a road would eliminate the prospect for a pedestrian and bike trail, which I favor.

We have precious few opportunities to add valuable green space to the City, and this is one we should be eager to have. We have to know where to grow and to build (along major corridors and transit nodes) and where not to (along park land and environmentally delicate areas such as wetlands).

I realize that this issue has been debated for a long time and that opinions have been divided. Two former mayors favored closure and a previous Council voted 8-5 to open the road. Yet the matter arises again because budget decisions must be made by those now entrusted to make them. And, of course, a new legislature may, and on many
occasions has, seen an old issue with new eyes and with a new calculus.

I respect that people still have differing views about this, and that many hold their views fervently. But my decision, known to all when I ran for election, is one I reached based on my best judgment and my best estimate of good public policy.

Thank you for reading this perhaps overly long post.

-Mary Cheh

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