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Cheh Stands Her Ground on Klingle Road

Nearly 20 advocates of reopening Klingle Road flowed through the Firehook Bakery yesterday afternoon during D.C. Council Member Mary M. Cheh's (D-Ward 3) constituent hours, which took place at a sunny pair of tables near the front.

Cheh periodically holds open hours, but these were some of the more contentious, as residents dissatisfied with her efforts to put the kibosh on reopening the road came to express themselves. The Coalition to Repair and Reopen Klingle Road sent online messages encouraging supporters to visit Cheh at the bakery. (The D.C. Wire initially mistakenly reported that the coalition was holding the event.)

Cheh was patient under fire but unyielding yesterday.

"I'm pretty solid where I am and I'm pretty happy where I am," Cheh told Joe Keyerleber, who lives in Mount Pleasant.

"I don't understand her position at all," Keyerleber said. "This hiker-biker trail is such a myth. It's way too steep!"

Ed Levin, who lives on heavily trafficked Porter Street NW, also came to talk to Cheh.

"In a sense, Mary Cheh was honest when she was running," Levin said. "She said she wanted it closed, but she also said it was a done deal [to reopen it]. Seventy cars sometimes are backed up on Porter Street at rush hour. All those cars are idling. That's not an environmental issue?"

But Levin agreed with most of Cheh's other policy positions. "She's a good person," Levin said. "We could do a lot worse."

Not everyone was there to argue with the council member.

Jane Howard, who lives in Woodley Park, said the road should stay closed. "There should be another solution," Howard said. "Things have been changed. The road has been closed 17 years -- traffic has rerouted itself."

Cheh's most spirited exchange was with Laurie Collins, a Mount Pleasant resident and member of the Klingle Road coalition. (Collins is also the president of the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Alliance, which has fought to curtail late-night music on Mount Pleasant Avenue.)

"Why didn't you allow a public hearing to decide whether the road needed closing?" Collins asked, her voice rising.

"We had a public hearing. You were at it," Cheh replied. "Let's get back to accuracy."

"I could have this place lined up six deep with people that supported me," Cheh said later. "I regret that Laurie Collins has turned this into an occasion for people to yell at me. Maybe we can come to some closure on this, literally and figuratively."

Perhaps. But the area map at the Cleveland Park Metro station suggests otherwise -- on it is marked Klingle Road, in all its east-west connecting glory, running under Connecticut Avenue.

Michael Birnbaum

By Marcia Davis  |  June 15, 2008; 7:50 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council  
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