Finding a way to link BWI and Montgomery Disputed highway: Politics aside, next governor needs to find way to build vital east-west connector.

October 21, 1998

IT IS time to stop playing political games with one of Maryland's most vital transportation needs.

The state must have east-west connecting highways -- mass transit proposals cannot do the job alone. Gov. Parris N. Glendening has been on both sides of the fence on this transportation question. The situation is especially urgent in Montgomery County. Without major new roads such as the Intercounty Connector, which would link high-tech industries in the northern county with Baltimore and BWI Airport, business leaders predict huge added shipping and warehousing costs and a loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

Traffic gridlock in the Washington region is already second-worst in the country. No doubt, this will start to discourage companies from locating in Montgomery. High-tech companies there will turn increasingly to Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia for their shipping and business travel needs instead of BWI.

Without an east-west connecting highway, Montgomery's isolation from Central Maryland will continue to grow, creating heightened tensions and misunderstandings in the state legislature. There's got to be a better way for business travelers and others to drive from Gaithersburg and Rockville to BWI, Laurel, Annapolis and Baltimore. Regardless of who wins the Nov. 3 election for governor -- and we've endorsed Mr. Glendening for re-election -- building an east-west roadway ought to be a priority. Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey is a strong supporter of this project. We're not quite certain where Mr. Glendening stands at this point. He says he is waiting for a committee to report on alternatives, but executives he spoke to recently said the governor told them some form of connecting highway may yet be approved.

Environmentalists and some Montgomery neighborhood groups adamantly oppose any road construction. That is not practical if Maryland is to continue to grow and prosper. This project must get moving on the fast track.

Pub Date: 10/21/98

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