Transportation systems stretched thinI would like to echo...


March 09, 1997

Transportation systems stretched thin

I would like to echo Brian Sullam's excellent comments on traffic congestion in the suburbs in his Jan. 26 column, "You can't build your way out of traffic congestion."

As the state agency responsible for developing facilities to meet the burgeoning transportation needs of Marylanders, the Maryland Department of Transportation takes congestion seriously. In addition to motorist frustration, congestion has real economic and environmental costs for the state.

At the same time, transportation and land use planners are running out of easy solutions.

We have already built most of the major highways that will serve the state in the future and are reaching the limits of where we can economically provide additional mass transit service.

A number of highway improvements are still in the making, such as the widening of Route 177 (Mountain Road) in Pasadena. We must ensure that these transportation improvements are in tune with development.

Some traffic congestion is due to new residential and commercial developments, but some is due to the rapid dispersion of people and jobs out of the corridors where the roads and transit lines are concentrated to new, "greenfield" sites.

This is exactly the trend that is targeted by Gov. Parris N. Glendening's "Smart Growth" initiative.

We must change the direction of growth and stop suburban sprawl in Maryland.

This will allow us to reinvest our resources in established or designated areas and move forward with the business of building attractive communities with high quality transportation services.

David L. Winstead


The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Spalding has GPA eligibility rule

As a private, co-educational institution of higher learning, Archbishop Spalding High School takes great pride in the academic standards set by our school board and administration. Success in the classroom during the winter semester enabled Archbishop Spalding to have only 68 students (four of them athletes) out of a student body of 844 declared academically ineligible.

An article about academic eligibility rules in The Sun on Feb. 23 distressed myself as director of development and the Spalding community.

Staff writer Pat O'Malley wrote, "None of the county's three major private schools -- Archbishop Spalding, St. Mary's and Severn -- have minimum GPA [grade-point average] requirements." That is absolutely false.

Archbishop Spalding High School does in fact have an eligibility rule that is strictly enforced.

I hope that you would see that your journalists do more through research when writing articles in the future.

Michael Jessup


Del. Leopold should investigate PIP abuses

In response to the letter of Del. John Leopold printed in your Feb. 7 issue ("No-fault legislation would help motorists"), I would suggest that he examine how the insurance carriers handle payments under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) provisions of their policies.

It is not unusual to have an injured person examined by an "independent" (read: insurance-paid) medical examiner whose sole purpose appears to be to state that the injured does not need any further treatment. The second practice is to have the medical bills examined and offer to only pay the "reasonable" amount of the bills (determined solely by their own evaluation and not by an independent source).

The biggest problem is that the amounts are usually so small that an injured person cannot afford to hire an attorney to represent him/her in court to have the bills properly paid. The insurance company, however, cumulatively saves an extraordinary amount of money by this practice in opposition to its obligation to properly take care of its own insurance.

If the delegate were to initiate a full investigation of the abuses of the "no-fault" PIP system, I am sure that he would change his mind and start representing the electorate that put him into office rather than the insurance companies that are paying the bill.

Jay Irwin Block


From French class to 'Ebonics'

I appeal to foreign language teachers and professors of linguistics everywhere to help explain to the public at large the fascinating and complex process of language acquisition. This knowledge is desperately needed to conduct any reasonable debate over the hotly contested issues of "Ebonics."

I am a middle-class, 10th-generation Swiss-American who has spoken standard American English all my life. From 1990 to 1995, I taught French to seventh- and eighth-graders at Thurgood Marshall Middle School (formerly Herring Run) in Baltimore. My students were virtually all inner-city young people, largely African-American, who spoke what is today being called "Ebonics."

My students loved learning French. They worked hard. They acquired authentic French pronunciation and learned difficult grammatical concepts. With great enthusiasm, they learned to understand and communicate, little by little, in a foreign language.

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