Bill to reduce traffic is a good weapon against Md...

Letters to the Editor

February 10, 1999

Bill to reduce traffic is a good weapon against Md. sprawl

In response to "Roads proposal fails to confront root of problems" (Jan. 22, On the Bay):

Imagine if the entire surface area of Rhode Island were covered with pavement, housing developments and shopping centers.

This is how much of Maryland's open space we will lose to sprawl in the next 25 years if we don't act now to reduce our vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and diversify our transportation system.

Our VMT have increased by 70 percent in the past 25 years. This has caused the needless construction of new highways with sprawling developments springing up around them, attracting more traffic and creating the need for yet more new highways.

Studies have shown that new road capacity of these highways is filled by induced traffic within five years. We need a comprehensive transportation policy and spending plan that will preserve our communities and save our remaining open spaces from destruction.

As Tom Horton's column shows us, Outlook 2020 is full of good intentions, but it ultimately paves the road to sprawl. The Vehicle Miles Traveled Reduction Bill (S.B. 254), sponsored by Sen. Brian Frosh, is the road to sprawl reduction.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller needs to support this initiative. The bill would reduce our VMT. It would increase the use of public transportation, eliminating the need for construction of destructive projects such as the Route 32 upgrades, which would cost $207 million to build and the loss of land.

Today, Maryland is losing 82 acres of open space to uncontrolled development. Another 82 acres will be lost every day until we turn this bill into action.

Lea Johnston, Baltimore

The writer is an environmental advocate at the Maryland Public Interest Research Group.

Generation's achievements and sacrifices were great

As a member of Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation," I take issue with former Sun editorial writer and columnist Theo Lippman Jr. and his assertions disagreeing with the claims made for our generation ("Any greatest generation is rank ancestor worship," Jan. 31).

I never felt we were all that great and doubt that any of my contemporaries thought so, either, but look at some of the things we did.

Most of the men -- boys, to a large extent -- answered their country's call, joined the military and gave an average of four years of their lives, leaving parents, wives and siblings to face unknown dangers.

Some engaged in combat with highly skilled enemies and defeated them, but with a heavy price. With it all, victory was achieved, and we came home to a grateful nation and families and went back to work or school or both. We did not ask for any special reward or honors but were grateful for such assistance as the G.I. Bill for educational benefits.

Mr. Lippman obviously is not of our generation and missed all the great adventure and experiences we knew. Had he done so, I doubt he would dwell on our weak links as shown by draft dodgers and cowardice. These were the minority.

Most of us came back strengthened by the experiences, and we matured faster than most men I doubt that any future generation will be asked to sacrifice so much for its country; I hope it will measure up to our record if fate requires it.

But for all of my generation, I take liberty to thank Tom Brokaw for recognizing what we did, and I am proud we gave it our best effort. I thank the Lord for success.

J. E. Hamilton Bailey, Towson

Taxes on tobacco products should help kick the habit

I have read time and again about the state and federal governments imposing tax after tax on cigarettes.

These taxes are going to be used for everything but what they should be used for -- helping the smokers kick the habit.

If the smoker is lucky enough to have insurance that covers Zyban prescriptions, he or she might be well on the way to kicking the habit.

If not, the smoker must pay out-of-pocket costs of approximately $100 a month, for three months, and hope that it works.

Take that cost and add it to the $2-plus for a pack of cigarettes, and smokers could reduce a good chunk of the national debt by themselves.

The nicotine patch once was sold by prescription but isn't any longer. The smoker can only hope the approximately $30 patch will work.

We have clinics that help people get off drugs and alcohol, so why don't smokers who need help get it? Smoking is an addiction that requires help.

By comparison, alcohol kills a lot of people, and many young people drink because others do.

But the state and federal governments are not putting taxes on top of taxes on alcohol products.

Using taxes on cigarettes to help smokers to kick their habit -- and to help us breathe a little easier -- is better than taking tax money generated by the addition of one segment of our population to build highways, state buildings and other projects.

Virginia Hensley, Grantsville

Emergency services should not be billed

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