I write as someone who paddles on the Anacostia River and bikes along the Anacostia River Trail to express enthusiasm for the efforts to connect the National Arboretum with the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and the river trail.

The Aug. 17 Metro article “D.C. bridge plan causes a row” emphasized the organized opposition of local sculling groups. Less apparent but more important is the potential the crossing will have to greatly increase the recreational and commuting opportunities for those on both sides of the river.

Now, access to the other side of the river essentially requires a car. The communities in this area have many families without a car; for these families, the planned bridge will be an enormous new opportunity. Someone living in Ward 7 in the District will be able to enjoy the summer lotus flowers at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and bike along the trail. And someone living in Kenilworth will be able to enjoy the bonsai garden at the National Arboretum. At the same time, the bridge will add an easier commuting route to jobs.

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The bridge plans have already been modified to address concerns raised by the sculling groups. Further changes could require additional federal funding, and that would delay construction of the bridge by many years or even threaten the entire project by forcing a return of the $13.1 million in approved funding. The crossing is already long overdue, and it is time to make it a reality.

Jack Smalligan, Cheverly

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