Newly opened Klingle Valley Trail slated for ‘shopping list of repairs’

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The new Klingle Valley Trail is already slated for repairs to its drainage system. (Brian Kapur/The Current/September 2017)
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Last week, three months after the Klingle Valley Trail’s long-awaited opening, the park was briefly closed for asphalt repairs caused by a fallen tree.

But its problems don’t stop there. Two August storms flooded the trail, indicating a faulty drainage system, according to Paul Hoffman of the D.C. Department of Transportation.

In the coming weeks, Klingle Valley Trail’s drainage system will undergo large-scale repairs that will require extensive but temporary closures, Hoffman said.

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The 0.7-mile trail for pedestrians and bicyclists follows a long-closed stretch of Klingle Road NW through Rock Creek Park, running from Cleveland Park’s Cortland Place NW below Connecticut Avenue to Porter Street. It took two years and $6 million to construct the trail — in large part, officials said, because of elaborate steps taken to avoid the drainage issues that left the old Klingle Road impassable.

But more work is needed, according to Hoffman. Upcoming repairs will target the trail’s drainage system so that it is able to withstand stronger and more frequent storms, Hoffman said. Details will be finalized in the coming weeks.

“We have a shopping list of repairs that we want to make,” Hoffman said in an interview. “We were there for two years, and we never saw any problems.”

Ward 3 D.C. Council member Mary Cheh, a key advocate in the long fight to transform Klingle Road into a wooded trail, expressed disappointment about the site’s drainage problems. But Cheh said climate change is partially responsible for unanticipated storms and flooding.

“We’re getting hundred-year storms every year,” Cheh said.

Woodley Park resident Linnea Warren has enjoyed using the Klingle Valley Trail since it opened, and was disappointed to find a variety of defects, including erosion problems and new plantings that are already dying. “My impression is that it wasn’t designed properly,” Warren said in an interview.

Longtime Woodley Park resident Roger White told The Current that the area has flooded routinely ever since he moved to the neighborhood. “The construction did not hold up,” White said.

Besides the drainage problems, several other issues have surfaced since the June opening, including cars driving along the trail.

Users of the trail have reported motorists driving along it. (Brian Kapur/The Current/September 2017)

“A woman, lost, was driving on the trail,” Arlene Holen wrote in a Sept. 9 post on the Cleveland Park listserv. “It’s easy to see why: One bollard was down; the two bollards are dark brown and easy to miss; the asphalt marked with a yellow lane marker looks like a road; the authorized vehicles only sign is off to the side and easy to miss.”

The trail’s 52 LED lights have caused concerns, too. Some neighbors have complained that the 4000K lights are too bright, a particular problem because they are left on overnight. The Transportation Department will review the trail’s lighting in the coming weeks, Hoffman said.

The Woodley Park Community Association has requested a community meeting to address the trail’s drainage and erosion issues. “We would especially welcome and happily sponsor community meetings regarding current or ongoing concerns,” association president Carolyn Abbey wrote in a Sept. 13 letter to the city.

The Klingle Valley Trail was the subject of a long-running tug-of-war between neighbors after the road closed in 1991. Residents generally fell into two camps: Some hoped Klingle Road would become a trail, while others sought its restoration for motor vehicles. The former won out after years of discussion and a court battle.