Klingle Road

Barriers at Klingle Rd. NW

Okay, so it’s not quite “Abandon All Hope All Ye Who Enter Here,” but it’s not exactly welcoming either, is it?

This is the beginning of the closed-off section of Klingle Road to which I made snide reference in passing yesterday. Despite my long residence in DC, I had never walked the abandoned stretch of Klingle Road. Suddenly, it seemed time to do so.

It was slightly overcast after an afternoon downpour. Many of the photographs I took were pretty awful because of the lousy light, but maybe these few will give you an idea of the landscape.

Jersey barriers spray painted, Klingle Rd., NW DC

The road is falling apart at a rapid pace. Much of the right shoulder has collapsed into the little creek (they’re called “runs” in this area) beside the street. There are jersey barriers at random intervals, most of them now decorated. Here you can see a sacred heart and the symbol for DC in day-glo orange.

Fungus covered log, Klingle Rd. NW, DC

Nature is making a rapid and definitive comeback. This log partly protruded into what used to be the roadway. Google Maps now calls this area “Klingle Valley” and does not show a roadway at all.

View up to Connecticut Ave., Klingle Rd., NW, DC

In some ways, it surprised me that the road was not even more junk-littered. The area around the Connecticut Avenue bridge showed the most abuse. Not many pedestrians stop to take a good look at the unused thoroughfare below.

Beneath Connecticut Ave. Bridge over Klingle Rd., NW, DC

It was not at all surprising to find that a group of young people were clustered in the niche beneath the third great steel girder. There was the flare of a tall flame, and they turned to face the wall as I passed by. Meth? Crack? “Don’t screw yourselves up!” I wanted to yell. But I also felt vulnerable. There were four or five of them, and only one of me with some fancy-ass camera equipment.

Stream along blacktop, Klingle Rd., NW, DC

Much of the blacktop surface is now flowing with water. Rivulets and stream-slime meander down the former street. There are mini-cascades, rifts, cracks, and eager growths everywhere. Cities don’t heal themselves; they need constant maintenance to hold back encroaching entropy.

Graffiti on Jersey barriers at the bottom end of Klingle Road, NW, DC

In fact, I saw no bitches lurking at all. A few yards beyond the steel fence you can see in the background, Klingle Road passes back into civilization. But at that blockaded other end, I walked through a gauntlet of six or seven parked and idling SUVs and trucks, with probably a dozen men sitting in or standing around outside them, smoking and waiting. The hairs on the back of my neck went up. I put my camera out of sight and kept walking as if I had every right to be there but no intention of stopping or interacting.

I have no idea what exactly was going on, but no interest in sticking around to find out, either. Although it aggravates me that I feel so unsafe in those circumstances, I suppose most of the time discretion is the better part of valor.


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6 Responses to Klingle Road
  1. Patrick
    May 20, 2011 | 9:35 pm

    Discretion would have been not going at all.

  2. Dale Favier
    May 21, 2011 | 12:24 am

    Yes, going at all was a little more valor than I’m quite comfortable with :-) Glad you’re unscathed! But this is a terrific photo essay. Fascinating to watch artificial things get dismantled by nature, and how people respond to it.

  3. Crash
    May 21, 2011 | 11:06 pm

    Yesterday, I though long and hard about making a comment like the above two. Chickened out; I know you don’t like free advice. And it’s not like it’s in the center of Washington freakin’ D.C!

  4. NT
    May 22, 2011 | 3:08 pm

    Thanks to all you gentlemen for caring about my well-being. In retrospect, it would have been wiser not to do this on my own.

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