Md. transportation needs alternatives to `tired...


January 17, 1999

Md. transportation needs alternatives to `tired solutions'

Your editorial "More money needed for roads, mass Transit" (Jan. 13) trots out the same tired "solutions" to the state's transportation mess that politicians have been dishing up for decades.

These solutions are not likely to solve our problems. They are all enormously expensive and require higher taxes, although the state has a huge surplus.

Rather than alleviating congestion, more highways would increase congestion on roads that feed into highways. Just look at what Interstate 795 has done to the traffic on Route 140 and its feeder roads.

And more rapid transit and light rail lines are prohibitively expensive to build and operate.

Your editorial acknowledges as much when it blames the lack of cash for construction in part on "soaring operating costs" of the subway and light rail.

There are better solutions to our transportation mess, solutions that could dramatically reduce congestion on the highways along with the air pollution that accompanies it without impoverishing taxpayers.

And it won't take years to implement these solutions, either.

State and local governments could encourage telecommuting through a combination of tax incentives and modifications to zoning laws. Many in this information age have no reason to work away from home.

For those who have to commute, state and local governments could encourage the use of alternative transportation. The best way to do this is to make the roads safe for bicyclists and pedestrians. Bike lanes should be constructed on all state highways, heavily traveled county roads and city streets so that cyclists don't have to ride in the main flow of traffic.

Compared with the expense and time required to build highways and rail systems, these solutions are both cost-effective and quick.

Philip R. Manger, Cockeysville

Goodman a role model, like Koufax in his day

We had to respond after reading the letter from Marc Starnes ("Observance of Sabbath could test Maryland team," Jan. 14) about the risks facing the University of Maryland regarding the possibility that Tamir Goodman will be unavailable to play basketball on the Sabbath.

We applaud any athlete who can stand up for his beliefs. After watching the recent NBA lockout, a demonstration of all that is wrong with sports, it is amazing to find an athlete who is more concerned about his beliefs and morals than the almighty dollar. We have no sympathy for wealthy athletes who believe they are due enormous wealth simply because they have unique talents.

A young man with the temerity to adhere to his beliefs is a fine role model for our youth and would be a welcome addition to any athletic team.

Sandy Koufax did the same thing during the World Series because of his ob- servance of the Jewish high holy days. He is remembered fondly for his athleticism and grace and was not chastised for his adherence to his beliefs.

It should also be noted that the University of Maryland recruited Tamir Goodman with full knowledge of his inability to play ball on the Sabbath. Perhaps the school realizes the role athletics can play in a young person's life. It is certainly important to win, but there is only one ultimate winner, and there must be a lesson to be learned beside being No. 1.

Kudos to both the Terps and to Tamir Goodman. We wholeheartedly support their efforts.

Steve Katz, Myra Katz, Baltimore

Long-term care credit could help Medicaid

Your editorial "Tax credit for long-term care" (Jan. 11) raises two concerns over the long-term care tax credit: A) Where will the money come from to fund the tax credit? B) How will it benefit the nation's low-income families?

Both concerns ignore the impact of Medicaid entitlements. While Medicare does not pay the costs of custodial nursing care, Medicaid does. Folks with money transfer assets to qualify for Medicaid; those without money already qualify.

At worst, the long-term care credits would create an economic wash; at best, they'll relieve the burden borne by Medicaid and focus public attention on the need for personal financial responsibility.

Gerald L. Mummey, Lutherville

Responsible developers appreciate the ecology

The Carroll County saga of the bog turtle ("Tiny turtle slows bypass in Carroll," Jan. 14) clarifies the issues surrounding protection of endangered species.

Opposing sides in this local controversy reflect two mentalities in the larger national debate, development and conservation, which frequently have difficulty speaking the same language, much less finding common ground.

Most conservationists' arguments arise not from a misplaced sentimental choice of turtles over people's livelihoods or homes, as some local residents in the Carroll County dispute have perceived. They come instead from opposition to the irrationality of destroying communities environmentally to save them economically only in the very short term, with long-term, irreversible damage to the communities and residents.

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