The Public Hearing on the Klingle Valley Trail Draft EA was last night. Even though the meeting was geared towards discussing the trail alternatives, many people wanted to rehash the road vs. trail fight. Those who did discuss the trail were torn on the width/permeable issues; mostly opposed lights; universally supported restoring the entire creek, and barely discussed the Klingle to Rock Creek Connection.
By my count speakers were for the trail by a 12-7 margin with 3 people supporting doing nothing. The pro-road group represented the local establishment (the ANC, Neighborhood Alliances, Crestwood Resident Association etc...) with a couple of environmental organizations such as Friends of the Earth and Sierra Club speaking for the trail. The arguments for the road were mostly about procedure ("NPS has a rule that this has to be a road", "the road has never been formally closed" , the connection to Rock Creek Park Trail is out of scope) and history ("this has always been a road" so it's wrong to change it, bikes used to go down the road, the same thing happened to Blagden Avenue and they rebuilt that road so they should rebuild this one) but very little about how the benefits of the road will outweigh the benefits of the trail. One attempt at that was by an ANC member named Gail (? bad note taking on my part) who said that we either "build a recreational trail that is open for only a few or build a road that is open for all." Many people in DC don't own cars. She also demanded that DDOT "give us the road we're entitled to".
The road closure issue is discussed in the EA
If converted from motorized to non-motorized use under the proposed action, this segment of roadway would have to be officially removed as a local street from the DC functional classification map using the appropriate processes under 23 CFR 470.109 (a) and 470.115 (a) (Federal Aid Highways re: converting a designated fed-aid highway to non-vehicular trail) and The Street & Alley Closing & Acquisition Procedures Act of 1982, D.C. Code sections 9-201.01 et. Seq. Section 9-202-01 (re: street closings and requirement of public hearing for such act).
One man argued that the permeable surface only works at low grades, so the trail will require massive environmentally damaging earthworks. If that is true, we should go with the impermeable surface.
Many argued that emergency vehicles and utility vehicles would need to use the ROW so it has to be a trail. I've seen both kinds of vehicles on trails often. Many also tried to argue that the road was cheaper than the trail or - if you'll believe it - that the road with a parallel trail would be cheaper.
One woman argued that because DDOT plowed the trail during Snowmaggedon it must be a road. Another said she skied the trail 6 days after the snow and it wasn't plowed. [And of course, the logic is somewhat iffy anyway].
The lawyer for Tregaron estates showed up and naturally they oppose the trail and plan legal action. They feel they negotiated the donation of the Tregaron Conservancy in good faith and are now left with five housing lots they can't build on. I don't understand the issue well enough to say whether they've suffered damages or if DC needs to do something to make them whole, but here were my thoughts in 2008. Many road supporters mentioned this project that would add "tax generating homes" to the city.
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)?
Pro-trail advocates argued that we have a beautiful city and we should preserve natural places, that to deal with congestion we need fewer roads and more transit, and that building the trail is the fiscally responsible thing to do. One woman read a letter from her seven year old son who bikes the existing ROW to and from school. Quotes include "When I ride to school I get to feel good" and "I like riding my bike with my Mommy" and "I like to come home because I get to go fast." Adorable.
Update: City Paper has more, including a quote I failed to write down.
Laurie Collins testified on behalf of the Coalition to Repair and Reopen Klingle Road—calling the proposed trail a “three-block hike-bike path to nowhere”
On the subject of the trail. Some people wanted the narrowest trail possible for environmental reasons. One woman wanted an even wider trail than proposed because Beach Drive gets so crowded on the weekends that it is "unsafe." Most people opposed the lights because they thought them unnecessary and that they would interfere with nocturnal animals. There was a lot of concern about the permeable material, but most people thought that if DDOT could make it work, they would support it.
Some people clearly think the fight for the road is not over, and as long as they're so committed and the trail isn't built, they're probably right.