- The Washington Times - Monday, June 14, 2004

Residents along Waterside Drive in Northwest say it took a presidential funeral to finally get their potholes fixed last week.

City road crews repaved their tree-lined, pockmarked street last week for Ronald Reagan’s funeral procession, although Waterside Drive residents say they’ve been asking for those repairs for years without luck.

“We’ve asked for work before, but after a while you just kind of throw up your hands,” said Howard Rausch, who has lived on the small road that links Rock Creek Parkway with Massachusetts Avenue in Northwest for 10 years.

City transportation officials say they’ve heard complaints about the road in the past, but they added yesterday that the National Park Service is responsible for maintaining the road. National Park Service officials were unavailable for comment yesterday.

“But we were happy to repave it,” said Bill Rice, spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation. “We did it in a hurry. It was rough, and it needed work.”

The city’s transportation department is billing the federal government $35,000 for the emergency road-repair work, Mr. Rice said.

“We don’t have an overall cost for the Reagan funeral yet,” Mr. Rice said, referring to other city transportation department expenditures for last week’s services. “Obviously, the bills are still coming in.”

Residents along Waterside Drive said yesterday they were happy to have their road finally repaved. But they added that no matter who is responsible for maintaining the road, it shouldn’t have taken the death of Mr. Reagan for some much-needed road work.

One Waterside resident, who declined to give her name, said Waterside Drive long has been “one of the worst roads in the District.”

“We couldn’t get anybody out here,” she said. “But what do you know, right before the funeral, they bring out tons of trucks and tons of people.”

“The road was pretty bad; it was terrible,” Mr. Rausch added. “I’m glad they fixed it. It was a mess.”

Lew Vovakis, who also lives on Waterside Drive, said in addition to the road work, crews also trimmed the branches hanging over the roadway.

“There was an endless line of trucks with asphalt,” said Mr. Vovakis, who recalled watching road crews work from Tuesday through Thursday last week. “D.C. brought their ‘A team’ out here to fix the road.”

Mr. Vovakis gave city crews high marks for their work, but he said the funeral procession didn’t enjoy the smooth ride for long.

“There’s no question that this [road work] came about because of the funeral,” Mr. Vovakis said. “But the motorcade passed by in less than 15 seconds.”

Waterside resident Bruce Cogill said there always has been confusion about who is responsible for road upkeep.

“There’s always been some ambiguity about whether the Park Service or the District is responsible for the road,” Mr. Cogill said. “When we talked to the different authorities, I don’t think it was ever a real high priority with anybody.”

Mr. Cogill said the recent repaving marks a big improvement over the bumpy ride he and other residents are used to along Waterside Drive.

“We look forward to more state funerals and more street repairs in the future,” he joked.

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