Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

March 23, 2003

Narrower bridge a less-safe bridge

The Sun reports that the State Highway Administration (SHA) has decided to narrow the new Weems Creek bridge on Rowe Boulevard in Annapolis to address community and environmental concerns ("Bridge plan gets mixed reviews," March 16). Unfortunately no one seems concerned that the bridge is narrowed at the expense of pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Bike lanes and a sidewalk were eliminated to narrow the bridge. Yet the design retains a wide planted median that may become another lane of traffic in the future.

How is this an environmental victory? Walking and bicycling are non-polluting. Auto exhaust, on the other hand, is the second largest source of unhealthful ozone air pollution and airborne nitrogen pollution of the Chesapeake Bay.

How is another lane of traffic, instead of sidewalks and bike lanes, a victory for the community? Annapolis is a historic town that wasn't designed for cars and has already reached its saturation point with cars. A bridge lacking adequate facilities for bicycling and walking denies basic transportation to non-drivers. One-third of Maryland's population lacks a drivers license because of people who are too young, too old, too poor, or too disabled to drive.

Bicycling and walking for transportation are not luxuries. They should be considered a basic right. Let's serve the needs of people, instead of planters and yet more cars, on the new Weems Creek bridge. Replace the planted median with bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the bridge.

George J. Maurer


Village plan good for Bestgate Road

There was not a vote on The Village at Bestgate, as the final zoning will be decided this September when the zoning maps are adopted. As the lack of work force housing becomes even more severe, the enormous cuts from the state and federal government are felt, with new information and the renewed initiative from the vast majority of the people of Bestgate Road are heard, we are confident that the County Council will adopt the mixed use or a chance that allows work force housing and preserves 24 acres for posterity.

Although they have been waiting for almost two years to do the right thing, I am hopeful that the owners of the property will leave the door open for the Village to become a reality this Fall.

Presidents, Vice Presidents, Board members and residents of Tidewater Colony, Wingate, Rivergate, Scott's Crossing Seabreeze, Admiral's Reach and Harbour Gates representing over 5,000 of the approximately 6,000 residents who live on Bestgate Road. ... Fowler United Methodist Church and true environmentalists supported the Village. What is a stake for them? A beautiful neighborhood center with stunning Annapolis architecture, public places and a donated 5,000-square-foot community facility. The preservation of 24 acres in their backyard that would protect Saltworks Creek, Severn River and preserve valuable open space for wildlife and walking trails for the residents.

What is at stake for our County? $1 million in annual taxes, $1.2 million in fees, 400 permanent jobs, $14 million in salaries, a $100 million investment and the creation of 250 to 350 units of badly needed work force housing. I do not speak for the owners of the Village property but as a life-long Annapolis resident that will continue to work with the people on Bestgate Road, County Executive and the County Council to create something special that will set a new standard for our community. We deserve it.

John S. Pantelides


Mass-transit offers dignity to disabled

Your article ["County transit lagging behind," March 16] concerning transportation in Anne Arundel County outlines very clearly the attitude of [County Executive Janet S. Owens]. During the primaries, Ms. Owens appeared to be sympathetic to the need for better transit in Anne Arundel County. She indicated that she would investigate the formation of an office of transportation that would address Anne Arundel's traffic congestion and transit accessibility for senior citizens and disabled individuals.

It appears however, that Ms. Owens has never endorsed the idea of providing public transportation to the county. Apparently, she would have never created a transit plan, which would have allowed the county to receive federal money to study its feasibility. Now, with the budget crunch, Ms. Owens has a perfect excuse to say that there is no money for public transportation studies, etc. I am saddened to read that she is apparently only interested in what is best for Annapolis and not the county as a whole.

I voted for Ms. Owens based on her statements to a meeting of the disabled at the Provident Center in Arnold, where she indicated that she would certainly give the desperate situation of the blind, disabled and elderly the benefit of a transportation study, even with a tight budget. She has not held up to her campaign promise and deceived those who would benefit the most and who must fight the hardest for their dignity. ...

Independence and dignity are the by-products of people who can be self-sufficient when life has dealt them a difficult way to live or age or sight has made it impossible to drive their own vehicles. Transportation is the vehicle that permits them to live lives of worth, productivity and self-sufficiency. Ms. Owens, I call upon you to rethink your position and consider the overwhelming transportation needs of the whole county.

Sarah Hakulin


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