Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 13, 2003

Raising tolls long overdue for Maryland

I was pleased to read about the increase in tolls on some Maryland facilities ("Cost of using Key Bridge, tunnels to double beginning Saturday," Nov. 11). They are long overdue to fund much-needed transportation projects.

Delaware, for example, charges almost $6 in tolls for approximately 20 miles of toll road and crossing to and then over the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

Delaware, to its credit, also gives discounts for those who use EZ Pass, which lessens the need for expensive toll personnel and improves traffic flow.

What I cannot understand here in Maryland is why with the need for one and probably two additional Chesapeake Bay crossings (one from Baltimore to the northern Shore and the other from Southern Maryland to Cambridge) the tolls on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge have not been raised to at least $5, with discounts for EZ Pass commuters.

In the New York area, one frequently pays $6 or $7 in one-way tolls on its bridges, with the money earmarked for transportation.

Maryland needs to take a more proactive approach toward tolls charged on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge with an eye toward providing relief from this choke point in the form of additional capacity sooner rather than later.

Joseph H. FitzGerald

Chevy Chase

Firewall needed for transportation funds

The need for adequate revenue to fund worthy transportation projects throughout the state has been well-established, but the call for additional resources must meet a two-pronged test: one of need and one of fairness.

The latter test, to which The Sun's Michael Dresser referred in the article "Ehrlich faces rough ride on road needs" (Nov. 9), can be met only with the passage of a constitutional amendment, similar to those in existence in 25 other states, that would require that funds deposited in the Transportation Trust Fund be spent on transportation projects, and not be transferred to the general fund, unless the governor declares an emergency and this determination is supported by a three-fifths majority of both the House and the Senate.

During the 2003 legislative session, I sponsored legislation, along with 41 of my House colleagues, to submit such a constitutional provision to the voters for approval. Although the measure had bipartisan support and received considerable, positive public testimony, it did not receive a vote in committee.

I plan to reintroduce this legislation at the start of the 2004 session.

It is time to put the "trust" back in the Transportation Trust Fund. Serious consideration of transportation funding enhancements is a non- starter without passage of trust fund firewall legislation.

John R. Leopold

Annapolis

The writer represents District 31 as a Republican in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Disadvantaged teens need the most help

Kudos to high school junior Nicholas Leonhardt for his thoughtful article on pressures and stress facing teens ("Today's teen angst goes beyond pimples, prom," Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 9).

Thanks also to The Sun for carrying Mr. Leonhardt's article; it's important that adults, especially policy-makers, get the views of young people.

While the anxiety surrounding Advanced Placement grades, SAT scores, getting in the "right" colleges and getting the "right" credit card is genuine, let's not forget the stresses and pressures on young people who are not as talented, blessed and fortunate as Mr. Leonhardt.

Too many of our non-college-bound young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, lack the education, work force skills, and adult support to become successful adults. Too many youths feel a real sense of hopelessness about their futures. Civic groups, faith-based groups and youth service agencies can help redirect these kids by giving them opportunities to connect with adults who care about them.

Don Mathis

Aberdeen

The writer is executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County.

NPR bequest funds Democratic agenda

In response to the article "Public radio gets bequest of more than $200 million" (Nov. 7), indeed, the enormous donation to National Public Radio by a liberal Democrat only cements the station's well-earned reputation as leftward leaning.

In fact, any who fear the Democratic Party will not match the $200 million in campaign funds President Bush is expected to raise need worry no longer. Whoever becomes the Democratic presidential candidate will inherit the full backing of NPR - including Joan B. Kroc's $200 million bequest.

Eliezer Schnall

West Hempstead, N.Y.

Energy bill looks to past, not future

President Bush would like us to believe that his energy bill sets a sensible path for American policy for the future.

Maybe if our future looks like the Cold War.

The energy bill promotes oil and coal with fat tax breaks and by relaxing the enforcement of clean energy standards. As if big business in this country isn't fleecing taxpayers enough.

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