- The Washington Times - Monday, August 13, 2001

There is a closed stretch of road in town that has become the focus of too much time and energy and I am not talking about three blocks in front of the White House. Rather it is Klingle Road NW crossing Rock Creek Park.

Some 10 years ago, when parts of the road were damaged by rains and at a time when city services were quickly eroding themselves, the road became unsafe. It was temporarily closed to await repairs. Well, as most folks in this town know, what the D.C. government deems temporary is often permanent such as using cramped, inadequate trailers to house homeless women. So here it is, 10 years later and the road is still closed.

Yet many long-time residents, well aware of the convenience of using Klingle Road, have organized to at last have the road repaired. Whether it be residents from Crestwood, Mount Pleasant, Petworth and other areas immediately to the east of Klingle Road who would like the added artery to get across town, or whether it be cab drivers, local police and fire officials, who all recognize the improved access and potential safety benefits of having the road reopened, there has been a growing clamor for its repair. Of course, per Newton's law of physics, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Numerous persons citing environmental concerns would now like to keep the road permanently closed, and have it return to a more natural state. Of significant note, national media personas Tim Russert and Mary McGrory, who live in Cleveland Park, have called for keeping the road closed.

As all can see, the brouhaha has the signs of this summer's hottest campaign with yard signs dotting the surrounding landscape to either "Open Klingle Road" or "Save Klingle Valley."

The question becomes, where is the mayor on this? This is a simple administrative decision that the mayor's team has allowed to burgeon into a first-class political mess. Unlike Pennsylvania Avenue, where all the D.C. officials are loudly proclaiming to open the road, here D.C. officials are stone silent. All that needs to be done is for the mayor to release the study commissioned for an objective, engineering analysis of the costs and maintenance of reopening the road. If the road can be repaired and maintained at a reasonable expense, then by all means open the road. It belongs to all residents, not just those who live around it. The Advisory Neighborhood Commissions which have called for its reopening should be given great weight in any local administrative decision impacting the road's fate, as well as those groups citing safety and access. If the study shows the expense is astronomical and the environmental impact egregious, then don't repair the road.

The worst thing to do is to simply do nothing. It is time for the mayor to move the bureaucracy forward, which was his mantra in seeking office in the first place. There are huge issues facing the city rebuilding our public schools and bringing their systems and results into the 21st century, revitalizing neighborhoods left neglected and forgotten during the past economic rebound, resolving the city's long-term fiscal stability to just name a few. Get this issue of Klingle Road behind us one way or the other and move to the big issues, please.

Terrance Lynch is a Mount Pleasant resident and civic activist.

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