Housing Complex

Not Another Klingle!!!!!

When Broad Branch Road closed on account of a second giant sinkhole that appeared over a culvert on April 14th, it wasn't just another inconvenience. It was the potential for another decades-long battle to regain passage across Rock Creek Park.

“The last time I was told repairing a road in Rock Creek Park was complex was five years ago; that road is still closed,” Councilmember Muriel Bowser declared in a bellicose press release. “I will not stand idly by while Federal and District red tape amplifies the isolation of thousands of Ward 4 residents in Crestwood.”

She was, of course, referring to Klingle Road, which was closed "temporarily" when it washed out in 1991, and permanently in 2008. After much debate, it's supposed to become a trail for walking and biking, and the mayor's capital budget for 2012 does include a request for federal highway funds to get it built–20 years later.

Broad Branch, then, is the "only viable option" for commuters crossing the park–or was. One sinkhole has existed there, covered by a steel plate for many years. But a second one was too much; the whole road section is too unstable for the estimated 4,000 vehicles that use it every day. (The bigger problem: Such culverts exist all along the road; new sinkholes could appear with every rainstorm.)

Yesterday evening, Bowser, Councilmember Mary Cheh, and neighbors met at the site to figure out what might be done, and they weren't happy with District Department of Transportation engineer Ronaldo Nicholson's plan to have the road back open by September 1. He can't move faster, he said, because of the number of signoffs he needs from the National Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and even the State Historic Preservation Officer (NPS officials at the scene insisted, rather defensively, that they'd be glad to approve permits as soon as they get design plans).

"If someone can get me carte blanche under an act of war, I'm ready to go," said Nicholson, under fire.

But it's not fast enough for the electeds, whose constituents are now walled off on their respective sides of the park!

Cheh put her amateur engineer's hat on, and offered DDOT some suggestions for temporary fixes. Can't they put a huge steel plate across the road section? Or sink pillars on either side and make a bridge across? The eroded culvert is still too unstable, Nicholson explained.

"Could you throw a bunch of stones under it?" Cheh asked. "We can take them out when it's done."

No, Nicholson said–the water would still back up into the park. "Well, so what?" Cheh asked. (Rock Creek Park's superintendent shook her head and waved her hands in protest.)

Cheh was undeterred. "I've driven on roads all over the country. I've driven on wooden bridges," she said. "They're not the best, but they're not supposed to be permanent."

The little band broke up, promising to meet soon with all the relevant agencies to get the road back open before September, by hook or by crook.

"I have another idea," Cheh said brightly. "A zipline!"

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    fix it. when the feds show up with a cease and desist order, tell them to shove off.

  • Will

    Hyperbole about Klingle aside, there are still many ways to cross the park. From the East, one could take Piney Branch, Military, Sherrill, Blagden, Kennedy, Joyce, Park or Adams Mill. From the West, Porter, Tilden, Bingham, Wise, Shoreham or Cathedral. I just wanted to illustrate what a silly argument is being made over Klingle as "the only way to get across the park" as I've heard at many meetings. I'm disappointed that it was used as a headline crutch since the whole argument against Klingle trail is just dripping with entitlement and windshield perspective.

  • drez

    +1 Will.

  • Lydia DePillis


    I thought the five exclamation points conveyed tongue-in-cheekness, but you're right, I should have listed the many alternatives as well.

  • Bob

    95 isn't the only way to get from DC to NY so let's close it. Sure there are a lot of ways to cross the park but this is the best way to get from Connecticut to anywhere south of Mount Pleasant on the east side of the park. Taking Military either requires the winding journey on Beach Drive or a longer drive down 16th. Waiting for Tilden requires a drive through the traffic nightmare that is Van Ness. I'm not opposed to bike trails but I am opposed to the process of creating them by simply refusing to repair roads.

  • Will

    I get that it's sarcastic, but its still red meat to the folks that consider Klingle the opening salvo in an imagined "war on drivers".

  • Lampredotto

    @Bob: +1

  • Wreckfish

    Is anyone calling for Broad Branch to stay closed? Oh wait, there's just one ass hole who has and her name is Lydia DePillis. It's fine if you don't like the people who advocated for keeping Klingle closed but don't crap on us over an issue that doesn't exist.

  • Bob Summersgill

    Klingle Road doesn't cross the park in any event. It just connects Porter, west of the park, to a neighborhood in Woodley Park.

  • W-3 Was

    When will Ward 3 realize their Councilmember is actually a clown? And if Bowser is involved, get ready to take a knife in the back.

  • Bill

    @Bob Summersgill: Klingle actually does cross the park, starting up in Mount Pleasant, never getting on Porter to do so, and then it goes thru the park, under Connecticut Avenue and allows those of us in Mt. Pleasant, Crestwood, etc. to cross the, um...park! We're forced to go north or south to get east and west.

  • http://dcjack.org Jack

    Oh, the poor babies, "the isolation of thousands of Ward 4 residents in Crestwood." Hey, Crestwood abuts that major arterial known as 16th Street, which in turn provides easy access to Military Road, Park Road, Irving Street, Columbia Road, and any number of east-west routes, as well as offering a speedy route downtown, or out to the Beltway. "Isolation"? That's just stupid.

    As for the comparison to Klingle, forget it. Klingle is a steep road subject to frequent washouts, subject to heavy stormwater damage. Broad Branch, a flat route through the park, is nothing like that. It'll be fixed, and nobody's saying it shouldn't be fixed. Bowser's inventing opposition where there isn't any.

  • Bill

    Broad Branch is JUST like Klingle. Both had culverts that collapsed. Both are located along a stream. Both carried 4,000 and 3,200 cars daily. Both are subject to storm water damage. Both are subject to wash outs.

    Flat versus steep has nothing to do with anything.

    What you can't compare: The Sierra Club & NPS stepping in stopping the repairs whining how bad it would be for the environment. Don't worry, you won't. Why? Because the neighbors living near Broad Branch know how important Klingle Road was and used Broad Branch to Klingle to transverse the city.

    That's the difference.

  • DC


    Klingle Valley Rd has been closed since 1991, not 2001.

    Fear not, as is usual with things like this, the loud voices of the few (and wealthy) will turn a road that carries a ~million vehicles a year into their private hiking path to the detriment of all the adjacent neighborhoods and streets which have to accomodate the displaced traffic.

  • Lydia DePillis

    Oy, silly slip, thanks for the correction. Fixed.

  • http://www.badassbrookland.com lala

    I've used this section of Broad Branch nearly daily my entire life. Getting from where I grew up in 16th Streets Heights to where I went to Elementary school in Chevy Chase -- the prettiest and most direct route. These days, I use it to get from Friendship Heights to Columbia Heights, as a way of avoiding the hell that is Irving Street between the Park and 14th. I'll be pretty pissed if this doesn't re-open.

    Too bad I don't have a Senator to call and complain about this to!

  • steve

    The real problem here is a glaring lack of maintenance for the entire stretch of Broad Branch Rd within Rock Creek Park. It's one of the city's most beautiful roads, but bridges are crumbling, sightlines are poor because of vegetation,and protective barriers are knocked over or missing on significant stretches, making it quite easy to plunge into the drink. DDOT is supposed to start a study soon on fixing the entire road.

  • Mary

    All cross town roads need to be open, Broad Branch and Klingle for easy access across the park. Yes you can go several blocks out of the way to try and cross the park but this city should repair its crumbling roads. By the way Cathedral and the Shoreham are pesently closed to Rock Creek Park as they work on the Rock Creek Parkway.

  • Herb

    Klingle will never again re-open as a road. Time to move on.

  • Mary

    Klingle is an open road, except for 3 blocks in the middle Mary Cheh wants to turn that into a sidewalk and pay 7 million to do it. Makes no sense!