Through an amendment added and created by Ward 3 council member Mary Cheh this budget may violate a 120-year conveyance of a public road to the District by private landowners, namely Klingle Road NW, and it directs the D.C. government to replace the road with a more costly permeable hike-bike path. It also demolishes a long-sought agreement allowing limited development on the Tregaron Estate in Cleveland Park and puts houses and a school in jeopardy.
Is a small, neighborhood-exclusive, hike-bike path worth all of these extreme costs? The D.C. Council should take a deep breath and pull this amendment for closer scrutiny of its consequences.
Let's look at the Post's arguments
1) The permeable surface on a steep slope, as stipulated in the amendment, is likely to cost two to three times more to construct and maintain than a traditional paved road would. This is possibly true. Though no one really knows what the cost of the road or the trail will be. But building a trail will cost less than the road - by about 70% according to "Repair Klingle Road." (Dan Tangherlini backs it up). It's the experimental "permeable surface" that makes it so expensive. That has nothing to do with the trail and everything to do with storm water management. Cheh wants to build a trail that vastly exceeds the city's requirements; which means the Post is not comparing apples to apples. A road with the same high standard would cost a fortune. If the Post feels the permeable surface does not provide enough bang for the buck, that is a different argument and one I'm not inclined to get into.
2) This surface will not support required utility trucks - Again this is the fault of the permeable surface. A traditional trail would not have this problem. So the Post is arguing against the surface but not for the road.
3) The hiker-biker kills a land deal that would have transferred 13 acres to the Tregaron Conservancy and allowed for the construction of several houses in the neighborhood, thus increasing DC's real estate revenue. This too is partially true. The Tregaron Conservancy land is not at risk. That is a done deal. Three of the eight homes will probably still be built (two on Macomb and one on the existing portion of Klingle) the other five will probably not. The developer may sue, but they knew the risks of buying housing lots that fronted a damaged and contentious road. Their application even noted this
The Applicant is proposing to subdivide a portion of the landmark to create eight residential building lots (collectively comprising just over one acre) consisting of: (1) two lots located on the Macomb Street frontage of the property; and (2) six lots on the Klingle Road frontage of the property. (Five of the Klingle Road houses are located on a portion of Klingle Road which is currently closed to traffic due to the degraded condition of the roadbed, and one house is located on the open portion of Klingle Road).
Furthermore, there is no reason these houses couldn't be built because of the trail. One could argue that (gasp!) a house doesn't have to be accessible by car to have value. Is no one really willing to live in a house in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in DC and fronting Rock Creek Park because they can't park in the driveway (but can bike up to it)? If not, I'll take one - with energy star windows please.
Finally, they call the hiker-biker path "exclusive." No more so than the Tregaron Conservancy that they seem concerned with saving (though neither is really).
4) The amendment closes portions of the road which are presently used by homeowners and the Washington International School. This is a legitimate concern, but we're talking about around 100 feet of road. I would be stunned if this is not corrected. The Post has argued that 100 feet of the road is needed.
5) Klingle Road was meant to provide access and to unite the city. In their own article they point out that the road was given to the city 120 years ago. While this is the same year that Karl Benz began production of the first modern automobile, I doubt there were a lot tooling along Klingle Road. There were certainly more pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians using it until the 1920's. Furthermore, the trail will unite the city more than a road. Which brings people more together, Canal Road or the CCT? A hike-bike trail provides transportation.
So Washington Post, you are NOT a formidable opponent.
Despite the Post's argument, the vote went for the trail and against the road as GGW liveblogged
The question of whether it's a road, [Jim Graham] says, is different from whether it's going to be a hiker-biker trail. Graham asked DDOT how much it will cost to build a bike path. Graham has repeatedly asked "with great intensity," and last night, Moneme told him DDOT's conclusion: it would cost $9.6 million to renovate into a way suitable for a bike path.
Graham is introducing an amendment. "Did you think it was just going to be a statement?" (Chuckles from around the table.) His amendment strikes the $2M of federal money allocated to the bike trail but leaves the language that the area won't become a road. That way, Graham is saying, the Council can decide later what to do with the land.
Schwartz: Rock Creek Park already has miles and miles of pedestrian and bicycle paths. So do we need another one at a cost of $10M, in a gorge that's subject to flooding?
Bowser: She doesn't think they've been presented with a good reason to make this a bike trail or park. Also, we still haven't gotten an estimate for how many people will use the trail. There are many needs for bike trails in the city, but this focus on Klingle has distracted from the critical bike issues like commuting. This trail won't do much for commuting, and she's concerned other projects like the Blagden Trail and the Metropolitan Branch Trail will get tied up because of the focus on Klingle.
The effort to keep Klingle Road closed has been spearheaded by Meet the Press host Tim Russert, who helped found the association and has staged cleanups in the unofficial park.
I think that would be an incredibly well-fitting tribute, as do others it seems.
LL called the Sierra Club’s Jim Dougherty, a longtime anti-road activist. He says naming a trail after Russert would be a fine idea. He also points out LL wasn’t the only one to have the thought: Shortly after the death was announced, similar suggestions hit the Klingle Valley listserv.