Greater Greater Washington

Klingle gets the ax

As predicted, the Committee on Public Works and the Environment voted 3-2 (Brown, Cheh, and Alexander versus Graham and Bowser) not to spend lots of local money to rebuild a high-speed bypass through Rock Creek Park that we've done fine without for 18 years.


Bowser wants to drive
her Kart in the park!

Jim Graham is disappointed, and wants to hear from citizens. I encourage anybody who thinks parks should be for recreation, not highways, to attend the meeting or email grahamwone@gmail.com.

Thursday, May 8
6:30 pm
John A. Wilson Building (the Council building)
1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW (Pennsylvania between 14th and 13½th)
Metro: Metro Center or Federal Triangle

Update: According to City Paper, Cheh also added an amendment allocating $2 million "for environmental remediation of Klingle Valley and construction of a recreation trail." Graham still plans to fight for the road. And Mayor Fenty is fine with whatever the Council decides.

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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First off, Mayor Barry's fiscal mismanagement caused the road to close. It's not a park now and it never was a park, it's a symbol of DC's inability to fix potholes in roads. Anyone who calls a closed road with pothole problems a park makes themselves look really ignorant.

Secondly, I had friends who drove motorcycles on Klingle Road every day. It's currently used as a road by motorized vehicles.

Thirdly, I spoke to people in Cleveland Park 10 years ago who specifically told me they didn't want "people from over there" in their neighborhood. This issue is first and foremost about racism, so do not play the millionaire's game by ignoring that.

Lastly, I currently spew how many toxins in the air shuttling 4 people from MtP to Georgetown? We most certainly are NOT "doing fine" without it. We need that road open.

So, while you've sided with the millionaires and their race-baiting fears, you can always come around to support the people. Apology accepted in advance for your post filled with lies.

by DCer on May 1, 2008 11:29 am • linkreport

Klingle Road a "high speed bypass". DC should be so lucky to have such a thing- preferably the environmentally narrow footprint option of the I-66 K Street Tunnel.

The first poster is absolutely correct. DC road policy is about shifting the traffic burden to the less affluent areas, starting with Bethesda's pathological snobbery.

Just look at the amount of parkland there and compare that with your elitists' complete disregard for the South Capitol Mall.

by Douglas Willinger on May 3, 2008 12:42 am • linkreport

Name-calling and insults don't strengthen either of your causes.

To DCer's points (the non-juvenile ones): It's irrelevant why the road was closed. The fact is that for the last 17 years there hasn't been a road there. Driving patterns are currently shaped around the lack of a road. Now, the question is: should we change things by putting a road there or not?

It's also irrelevant if some Cleveland Park residents may have racial motivations. Some people support policies for bad reasons; race has nothing to do with my or most people's arguments for not building a road.

You spew fewer toxins by carrying 4 people in your car. If there's a new road, some people will choose to drive who might otherwise carpool, because now the drive is faster and easier. Some people will drive who might take the bus. The more roads we build, the more we encourage more driving in the future. Eventually the newly encouraged driving creates so much traffic that the roads are as crowded as before, but now there are more of them.

Douglas Willinger: When I first encountered your blog I was interested to hear the arguments of a pro-road person. Unfortunately, I discovered that they seemed entirely to consist of calling everyone who opposes creating more roads and more traffic "elitists" or "snobs".

It's true that in the past the more affluent areas were generally able to block highways while poorer areas were not. But that's no reason to go build roads in the rich areas; instead, it's a reason to focus our transportation dollars on transit for the poorer areas.

by David Alpert on May 3, 2008 10:10 pm • linkreport

There is every reason to build roads in richer areas- particularly tunneled roads. Have you ever seen the traffic in downtown Bethesda?

Yet after all of these decades, the powers that be have left the traffic disproportionately in SE, doing nothing for instance to tunnelize the Anacostia Freeway.

That situation is a classic text book example of "enviro" snobbery.

Also, you bear false witness in so harping upon the issue of name calling, altogether ignoring my doing something about it via innovative ideas as the Alexandria Orb and the Grand Arc Mall Tunnel.

The behavior of the Alexandria City Council in deleting some %80 of the proposed Washington Street Urban Deck (trading away environmental mitigation for neighborhoods nearest to a highway, for things in wealthier neighborhoods further away), voting unanimously without open debate, NCPC's behavior to rubber stamp this over the pleas of WWB neighborhood representative Ed Ford, along with the complete disregard of the DC area's "progressive" "environmentalist" organizations to even discuss the NCPC South Capitol Mall, all suggest a dynamics of top down centralized elitist control over those that falsely claim to be "grass roots".

Check out my August 2007 article at "Cosmobile Cosmopolitan Transportation" as well as my February 2007 article in my "A Trip Within the Beltway" blog "A Sampling of Attitudes About DC I-95" for a greater understanding of the dynamics at play.

by Douglas Willinger on May 4, 2008 11:14 am • linkreport

The traffic in downtown Bethesda is bad because we replaced the streetcar suburbs we once had in Chevy Chase, Bethesda, and along the 270 corridor with highway-dependent sprawl.

More highways will only make the traffic worse. We have 70 years of evidence that roads generate induced demand near or even surpassing their capacity, meaning that they don't reduce traffic in the long run.

Your arguments are circular. Everyone who opposes road building is a snob because they don't agree with your posts in which you claim that we need more roads. You won't stop name-calling because you propose solutions, solutions which are all about creating more roads, and then you proceed to call people names who disagree with those solutions.

I looked at the articles you cited. They are about 20% declarative statements that roads are best, and 80% criticizing opposing arguments by name-calling rather than arguing the merits of the criticisms.

I'm sorry you are so frustrated that people don't agree with you. But for all your comments on the blog, you've never actually engaged on the merits of my arguments, only calling your opponents elitists. So, I'm instituting a new policy: any comment by you (or anyone else in a similar vein) that uses the word 'snob' or 'elitist', has 'environmentalist' in quotation marks, or otherwise responds to any argument by criticizing the people rather than the substance, will be summarily deleted.

I welcome a debate with you on the merits of highways versus transit. I'm not interested in a debate about the purported motivations of people who disagree with you.

by David Alpert on May 4, 2008 11:38 am • linkreport

You did not notice the vast increase in real estate development in Bethesda? (or for that matter the campaign to take "down" a freeway that's already "down": the Route 34 connector in New Haven CT with buildings far far larger then the enighborhood buildings torn down in the 1950s/60s for the highway) Why don't proponents of "induced demand" include real estate thes and densities in their equations?

You also tout theories that are belied by such things as the difference in the performance in say the radial highway networks in the greater NYC metro region between those of Long Island (the LIE) versus Westchester County (I-87 and I-95). If such perpetually regurgitated theories are so valid why are they never applied to anything else other then highways?

You totally bear false witness about the name calling versus innovation issue, just look at the dozens of pages about the Alexandria Orb and those about the Grand Arc Mall Tunnel.

You totally sidestep what I wrote about the dynamics of the way things work. No discussion/debate on Alexandria's urban deck nor the South Capitol Mall! Such behavior is outside the pale of groups that purport to be made up of people who are "grass roots."

You also may presume that I am anti-transit. Wrong. I am against this false dichotomy that distracts from the fact that other industrialized nations spend more on infrastructure as a % of their GNP and less upon the criminal waste of money by the Pentagon, FEMA's REX 84 concentration camps, and the socially debasive, unconstitutional pharamcratic inquisition.

Your promise to delete posts with certain words only further sustains my claim and that of that most correct 1st poster what this is really all about.

I do agree with your last line- I welcome open debate.

by Douglas Willinger on May 4, 2008 12:51 pm • linkreport

" solutions which are all about creating more roads,"

My Washington DC Big Dig" - yes, even though its almost entirelu existing alignment/corridor with a 95% reduction in the housing displacement of the 1971 I-395 extension plan, and with greater safety. The I-66 K Street Tunnel- about 100% existing right of way- disturbing asphalt and concrete rather than a wooded corridor. Why no consideration of the footprint?

And what about my other proposals? The Alexandria Orb, the related Washington Street Urban Deck and the South Capitol Mall? The Wilson Bridge project was already happening; my proposals were to provide superior environmental mitigation. Yet we are suppose to think that white is black and black is white insofar, for instance that Alexandria was better off by reducing the urban deck proposal by 80% and trading away its funds for things as prettier sidewalks in neighborhoods further away from the highway. Are not the neighborhoods closest to a highway more worthy of the environmental mitigation?

And what about the Montrose Parkway? I opposed that for its chopping of a wooded corridor, in favor of preserving that wooded corridor, in favor of digging a tunnel under a the existing Montrose Road corridor.

Yet zero interest from all of these established organizations. From looking at the site of say the DC Sierra Club, the only open green space that matters is the issue of that stretch of Klingle Road.

Their behavior on turning their backs -- with NO public reporting or discussion -- on the South Capitol Mall only confirms the top down dynamics at play.

I look forward to your response to these points.

by Douglas Willinger on May 9, 2008 11:06 am • linkreport

I don't see the point of arguing with me about what the Sierra Club did or didn't do. I wasn't blogging when you were pushing the South Capitol Mall, Alexandria Orb, or anything else. Most of these arguments seem to revolve around bitterness from old fights. Let's discuss the issues at hand on their merits instead of what other people who aren't me did or didn't do.

I'm glad you oppose wasteful spending on wars. So do I. You're also right that more of a deck over the Beltway would be better than less of a deck. The interchange in Alexandria is disappointing. But I simply feel that no new highway would be even better than an underground new highway. Yes, your ideas for the highways are better than what was proposed, but I don't agree they are needed at all.

Bethesda is a great example because the development has been booming despite no new highways. Since Metro went in, development has boomed even more. Many businesses and stores are choosing to locate in this place that has heavy traffic. Clearly, then, while traffic is frustrating, it's not dampening economic development and thus new highways aren't needed.

A tunneled highway is extremely expensive. A transit line is a better use of the resources. It can carry more people in a narrower footprint, uses much less energy, and doesn't force the job centers to waste lots of their land on parking or build expensive underground parking.

I don't have in my head whatever statistics you are referring to in the case of New York's highways. Can you clarify?

I can't argue about why some other people did or didn't support the South Capitol Mall. It seems like it would have been fairly nice, but at this point, clearly we aren't going to get a Mall extension there. Where do you think we should put more Mall space now?

What do you think about decking over the ramp spaghetti between the Lincoln Memorial, Kennedy Center, and Foggy Bottom? That would be a good start for a place to have more usable mall.

by David Alpert on May 9, 2008 12:36 pm • linkreport

I agree with the concept of decking over the I-66 West Leg, and like the surface design.

The thing about the South Capitol Mall was not simply that it was supported or not supported, but rather that it was not even discussed nor mentioned. For a DC Sierra Club to not mention it in their writings about the South Capitol Street redevelopment, nor any of the established groups to even discuss the urban deck for Alexandria was bizarre, as was the behavior of the Alexandria government.

I went to the August 2000 meeting -- the Route 1 Interchange/Washington Street Urban Deck Stakeholders Panel -- and was pleased hat that panel voted some 8-1 against shortening the deck. Yet the Alexandria city government would not even mention that meeting in its subsequent report favoring deleting most of that deck, nor would they acknowledge it during their late 2000 session where they voted to do so unanimously without debate.

Also bizarre was the total lack of interest in the deck issue amongst the people who came to that stakeholders' meeting, which was a two part meeting with the first part about a bicycle path along the former pre 1846 DC border in Jones Point Park. While these people attended for the first part, I was amazed to see a whole block of them leave as soon as that portion of the meeting was over, as if the urban deck did not matter at all.

Imagine, if you will, this happening with the I-66 West Leg deck, whether with the meeting attendees, or with the officials.

Concerning the NYC metro region area radial highways, those in Westchester County perform far better than those in Long Island, where there are more in Westchester and fewer in LI. Clearly there are numerous variables for this, e.g. capacity, development and interchanges.

A tunneled highway is expensive but affordable considering the time savings to a great many people, whom provide a sufficient tax base to support such. Transit to has its place, but serves a far narrower developemnt footprint whereas automobiles provide door to door service. It is also true that a rail line is likewise narrower, but with judicious multiple employment of existing corridors, highways can and do fit with a fraction of the building displacement of the highways as planned during say the 1950s. A text book example of this would be the latter proposal for an I-66 K Street Tunnel versus the I-66 open trench and raised bermway along Florida Avenue./ U Street (see "North Leg" at A Trip Within the Beltway).

Bethesda is a traffic mess. What was strange to me about their anti highway doctrine is that they ended up tearing down most of their downtown for TOD, (far denser then that which was their before) and could have put a depressed, to be covered highway parallel to Wisconsin Avenue, largely through existing parking lots. Also, Bethesda tore up Wisconsin Avenue during the late 1980s and with little extra disturbance, placed a new road deck to permit excavating a road tunnel beneath on the width scale of that beneath DuPont Circle.

I lived with a friend in Bethesda during the mid 1990s, and saw that traffic, with it taking a 1/2 to go through the downtown. Either underground road that I could see there would have helped, as does the DuPont Circle tunnel.

Way more can be said for electric automobiles and water splitting technology, as being done with a new type of bus that uses magnesium to split water (I saw a stock offering for this).

Likewise with real bus stop structures and painted lines on roads to show people where the bus routes go!

It is inexcusable to chock right of ways.

by Douglas Willinger on May 9, 2008 2:42 pm • linkreport

I'm sorry you are frustrated that other groups don't enthusiastically support your ideas, but you aren't enthusiastically going around supporting their ideas either. Looking at your site, I see a lot about the South Capitol Mall and how you want I-95 rebuilt or the K Street freeway, but nothing about other issues that the Sierra Club may be talking about.

Everyone prioritizes what to spend their efforts on. If someone who goes around calling them elitists and snobs is proposing an idea, I'm not surprised that they don't immediately jump enthusiastically on the bandwagon.

When you say the highways in Westchester "perform better," what is "better"? Carries more cars? Less traffic? I dispute whether making all our highways move as many cars as fast as possible is the goal. The traffic on Long Island may induce more people to ride the Long Island Rail Road. The best solution is congestion pricing, which would both encourage non-driving and also ensure speedy travel for those who need to drive (especially delivery trucks, ambulances, etc.)

I still don't think you have addressed the fundamental point about induced demand. You say that a tunneled highway creates time savings. However, it also encourages more distant auto-oriented development because commute times decrease, leading to more highway demand and traffic increases again creating pressure to build even more highway lanes.

A transit line does draw form a narrower area, but it also enables denser development around it, so in the end it can serve more people as long as you allow greater density right near the line. Walkable urban and walkable suburban development consumes less energy and requires less gas. One entire subdivision out in Rockville has as many people as a single block downtown. It's not sustainable to cover the land with very low density houses and build freeways all over to connect them.

If Bethesda had put in a freeway, more people would be driving to Bethesda and fewer would be taking the bus or the train. Therefore, we'd need more parking. Also, as a denser downtown, there's a virtuous cycle where the more people are going there, the more attractive it is for new stores and residential development, creating more people there. A freeway pushes the balance toward drivers who are more likely to go to the mall instead, making it harder for Bethesda to compete.

by David Alpert on May 10, 2008 1:38 pm • linkreport

The area development is already there.

Failing to build a DC grade separated highway system results in the area supporting fewer people, hence with a declining population and people instead moving away. Yet somehow that's passed off as "anti sprawl".

The Westchester freeways handle much traffic at decent speeds with little conjestion- hence saving much time for many people- an excellent social value. The Long Island freeways have far more conjestion and lower speeds, with more development, closer spaced interchanges and less green space. Still neither have the townless townhouse developments so prevalent on the greater DC area.

The induced demand hypothesis is something I have never seen applied to anything other than highways, and as simply a spin against the fact that they serve a great many people- otherwise highways would be called wasteful for serving fewer rather then greater numbers of people.

Try taking a look at DC population figures during the last 40 years. Failing to build a comprehensive highway network results in people moving away- which is a goal that certain interests such as the Prince Phillips (depopulationists) of the world may want.

That seems to me to be the essence of the Sierra Club, as they talk only about Klingle Road (which is surrounded by ample parkland) while saying nothing about the South Capitol Mall, nor covering I-295 along the southeast side of the Anacostia River. Burying I-295, creating the South Capitol Mall, and creating the Grand Arc Mall/Tunnel each alone would create far more open parkland and serve far far more people than the DC Sierra Club's sole open green space project (on their web page) of closing that stretch of Klingle Road.

The failure of the established groups to even mention the South Capitol Mall is inexcusable. BTW the South Capitol Mall was not my idea, nor was the I-66 K Street tunnel. The former was that of the US National Capital Planning Commission; the latter was that of NCPC's Elizabeth Rowe, who was an avid opponent of the freeway planning (and an intelligent one during the early-mid 1960s) who supported the K Street Tunnel on practicality and footprint issues. She came to oppose it by 1973 because she though that petroleum would run out by about 1990 and was completely unimaginative to think about alternative fuels and modes of propulsion, aka serial hybrids- try googling "Fisker Karma" to see otherwise.

The South Capitol Mall was on the front cover of NCPC's 1996-7 publication "Extending the Legacy Planning America's Capital for the 21st Century", yet was unmentioned in the text (asides from the description as a "boulevard". Though perhaps the biggest planning addition to monumental DC since the west Mall/Lincoln Memorial, it was altogether blacked out in the media and the established env groups- demolishing their popular conception ultimately as as independent entities.

The Sierra Club chose to ignore it long before I started my blog. Are you trying to argue that they ignored the South Capitol Mall out of spite for me not getting involved with closing park surrounded Klingle Road?

However, the South Capitol Mall and the Grand Arc Mall/Tunnel can always be created, even if we have to demolish the badly placed development that some seek to place, including the notoriously placed Nationals Stadium (passed by an illegal after hours closed door re-vote by the DC City Council) and the unsafely situation (close and at a lower grade then the heavy rr) Elevation 314 development whose developer choose to block the favored route for the MB bike trail.

We would not allow people to sleep in pitched tents 10 -5 feet from an interstate highway yet official planners get all gooey brained about TOD within a rr derailment footprint on a lower elevation.

by Douglas Willinger on May 12, 2008 7:53 pm • linkreport

BTW-

Far better locations of TOD linear cities even are MD Route 355 along the existing 355 Red Line, and along Route 1 on both MD and Virginia along not yet extended WMATA rail.

The Takoma project is a particularly poor value. Yet is seems to have far greater top level political support than say the Metro West proposal in Vienna Virginia. Why might that be?

So is that Route 1 interchange in Alexandria, which amongst other things blocks the Purple Line- something which I pointed out to the Sierra Club, but which they would not respond, despite their purported support for such a Purple line.

by Douglas Willinger on May 12, 2008 8:00 pm • linkreport

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