Connector freeway wouldn't solve real congestion...


May 21, 1999

Connector freeway wouldn't solve real congestion problem

The Sun's May 10 editorial "Tying Montgomery Co. to the Baltimore region," claimed Montgomery County needs a new east-west road.

This runs counter to positions taken in the past two months by the Montgomery County Council and Prince George's County Council, who want to abandon the proposed Intercounty Connector (ICC).

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), prepared in 1997, found that the proposed ICC would not solve the problem of congestion on the Capital beltway, Interstate 270 or I-95.

It concluded that many intersections in Montgomery County would become more congested if any of the east-west alternatives under study were built.

Montgomery County citizens want to get back and forth to their jobs, not, as your editorial suggested, to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The DEIS found that the dominant travel orientation for Montgomery County, and the Washington metropolitan area, will not be east-west but radial, almost entirely oriented toward the inner suburbs and the District of Columbia.

The I-270/Route 355 corridor, which extends from Bethesda to Clarksburg, is the county's economic engine. Congestion on our main street has grown rapidly and is projected to continue to grow.

Providing travel alternatives that reduce car travel and congestion along our main north-south corridor, and along the Capital beltway, needs to be our top transportation priority.

Neal Fitzpatrick, Chevy Chase

The writer is conservation director of the Audubon Naturalist Society.

Promoting competition in local phone service

The Sun's May 11 editorial "Ma Bell's big purchase" missed the point of AT&T's planned cable acquisitions and under-rated the benefits consumers can expect from competition.

AT&T's moves will stimulate competition -- pushing Bell Atlantic to make broad-band and other services available at affordable prices.

Combined, AT&T-MediaOne will offer service to approximately 26 percent of the 103 million U.S. homes where cable tv is available. These homes will retain the choice of other sources for telephone, Internet and television services.

These choices will increase and prices will drop as technology advances and new competitors emerge. That's what an open market is all about.

In contrast to AT&T's commitment to compete, Bell Atlantic is pursuing mergers in an attempt to increase its monopoly control over the local telephone market: first with NYNEX and now through its proposed merger with GTE.

By teaming up with MediaOne, which already has begun offering local telephone service in some parts of the country, AT&T can make an end run around the Bell monopolies.

Long-distance rates have declined dramatically since competition was introduced in the 1980s.

It's high-time that local telephone customers have a choice among carriers competing to offer the best prices, advanced technology and improved service.

Wilma McCarey, Baltimore

The writer is vice president for government affairs at AT&T.

Analogy of Iraqi, Kosovar casualties found offensive

Gerald B. Shargel's May 11 letter began with the inflammatory remark that Americans have killed 1 million innocent Iraqi civilians ("American, Yugoslav killers should sit down together").

With this grossly inflated figure as background, he ignores the origins of the sanctions against Iraq and the simple solution, which is for Saddam Hussein to abide by the terms of Iraq's surrender after the Persian Gulf war.

Iraq invaded, conquered and was well on its way to destroying a fellow Arab nation when the United Nations intervened.

Saddam Hussein's acquiescence to the terms of his defeat would have spared his people the suffering that they now endure, but Hussein himself does not.

For Mr. Shargel to draw a parallel between our government's restoration of a sovereign nation after a brutal attack by a dictator and the Serbian explusion of Kosavars from their native land is offensive.

Nelson Marans, Silver Spring

Aid money would help Balkans more than bombs

Mark Matthews' May 16 article, "West plans to help rebuild the Balkans without Milosevic," about tentative plans for a Balkan Marshall Plan gives hope that some rationality has finally appeared among the geniuses who decided that the best way to put out Balkan fires was to pour gasoline on them.

It should not have been necessary to go to war to learn that the best way to achieve stability in the Balkans is through economic development.

If the money we are spending on bombing and refugee relief -- and will spend on post-war reconstruction -- had been devoted to development in the first place, thousands of Serbs and Albanians might still be alive today.

Sure, Slobodan Milosevic is a bad guy, but it's hard to believe that dangling a whopping aid package in front of him would have no effect.

Paul R. Olson, Baltimore

Welcoming war's refugees could help renew Baltimore

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