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Back in December, Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry introduced a bill to extend Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE across the Anacostia River into Wards 2 and 6. Since then, the measure’s gone nowhere fast, but Barry’s looking to speed up the timetable a bit.
This week, Barry circulated a memo informing his colleagues that he would move his bill as emergency legislation at next Tuesday’s legislative meeting. The memo said the emergency action, which requires no public hearing, was necessary in order to honor the good Dr. King in time for the 40th anniversary of his April 4, 1968, assassination.
The bill would extend the traditional MLK Avenue, renamed from Nichols Avenue SE in 1971, from its current northern terminus at Good Hope Road SE across the 11th Street Bridge, along the Southwest/Southeast Freeway and along Maine Avenue SW to its new terminus at Raoul Wallenberg Place SW (itself a renamed portion of 15th Street SW). The new portion would be called Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
An inspection of the route revels very few, if any, addresses will be affected, but it’s problematic to say the least that folks won’t get a chance to express an opinion one way or another about the change before action is taken.
Nine councilmembers co-sponsored the original bill, indicating a reasonably good chance of legislative success. Noticeably absent from the co-sponsor list: Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, through whose ward most of the affected thoroughfares run. Wells is out of town and unavailable for comment, but his chief of staff, Charles Allen, says that Wells declined to cosponsor because “he wasn’t approached or consulted about the possible renaming of streets in Ward 6.”