Regional planners need to move area in new directionsThe...

Letters to the Editor

August 30, 1999

Regional planners need to move area in new directions

The Transportation Steering Committee, the Baltimore region's transportation planning authority, recently voted to use obsolete data to analyze the impact of new road projects on the region's air quality ("Old traffic numbers could stall new roads," Aug. 22).

Committee members know the region's air quality is worse than the analysis will show and that more recent and reliable data are available.

The reasons committee members give for using faulty data include: other regions assess projects that way; they've done their analysis this way in the past; and the law does not prevent them taking this approach.

If other regions abdicate responsibility for the health and well-being of their citizens, they should be criticized, not emulated.

If using obsolete data has been the practice, we should admit that such practices have contributed to nine "code-red" days of dangerous air pollution in the Baltimore region this summer.

The law may not prevent a stagnant bureaucracy from ignoring the facts, but the Clean Air Act certainly does not recommend that elected officials do as little as possible to reduce pollution.

The public is starved for leadership from its elected officials.

Why doesn't the Transportation Steering Committee make the right decision on its own -- instead of forcing the public to demand ethical behavior from government?

Hank Goldstein, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Baltimore Regional Partnership.

Dan Thanh Dang's article "Neighborhoods try to cut off fast lane," (Aug. 19) was an excellent expression of the traffic problems faced by established communities in the Baltimore region.

Drivers tear through the our neighborhoods every day trying to shorten their commute -- not just because of congestion, but because of the long distances they now travel to work.

As we have built more houses farther and farther out into undeveloped areas, the problem has only gotten worse.

How can we ease congestion and improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods?

The Baltimore region's transportation planning agency, the Transportation Steering Committee, apparently doesn't see a way.

Its plan calls for billions of dollars in new road projects over the next 20 years -- projects which will, by its own admission, worsen congestion and bring more air pollution.

The Transportation Steering Committee must exercise leadership in thinking regionally about the transportation challenges we face.

It should decide to spend more money on improving and enhancing the road network to meet the needs of communities such as Eldersburg, Towson and Columbia, instead of spending billions on highways that foster sprawl in rural areas.

Established communities throughout the region must band together to call for serious reforms of our transportation planning processes, not just the same tired policies of the past.

Jamie Michael Kendrick, Baltimore

The writer is transportation program coordinator for the Citizens Planning and Housing Association.

Poor planning has caused ozone pollution problem

I hope recent articles about public officials using outdated statistics to justify area road projects will cause us to rethink our transportation planning process ("7 Md. road plans in peril," Aug. 24).

It is outrageous when elected officials such as Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Baltimore County Executive Dutch Ruppersberger choose to stick their heads in the sand and gamble with the health of those they were elected to represent.

Baltimore and Maryland have a severe ozone pollution problem. Shortsighted planning relying on more, larger roads that are quickly filled to capacity with polluting SUVs will not help.

Other cities, such as Portland, Ore., have tried to minimize this problem with balanced transportation planning.

We need long-term solutions that don't reflect the influence of highway builders and the car industry.

Citizens need to be more involved in the process and demand competent transportation planning. Otherwise we will pay the price.

Tim Eastman, Baltimore

A recent Sun headline read "7. Md. road plans in peril" (Aug. 24). It should have read, "Md. road plans threaten air quality."

We don't need to build more roads. We need to find ways to reduce traffic.

W. H. Earle, Baltimore

Pride's visit to Cleveland deemed a classy gesture

While passing North Coast Harbor Aug. 17, I spotted a visitor from Maryland: The Pride of Baltimore II was docked at the Cleveland harbor.

This was timely, as we were observing a week-long celebration marking the return of the Browns and the opening of the new Cleveland Browns Stadium.

It's a gesture of goodwill that the people of Baltimore have joined us, through their goodwill ambassador, The Pride, in this celebration. That's classy.

Herman Rueger, Cleveland, Oh.

Steakhouse gluttony shouldn't be celebrated

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