Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 04, 2004

Invest in roads and mass transit to cut gridlock

Sun reporter Stephen Kiehl's article "Time traveling: Md. ranks No. 2" (Feb. 26) told us what we already knew: Maryland drivers waste far too much time stuck in traffic.

Only New Yorkers have a longer commute to work than Maryland motorists, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. State officials blame longer commutes on jobs shifting away from downtown Baltimore. But what about people who commute to and through the city? They're stuck too.

The bottom line is that gridlock is a condition created by bad planning and projects that were never built. In Maryland, vehicle-miles traveled grew at approximately four times the rate of new highway construction between 1987 and 2002.

Playing catch-up and improving mobility will require investments in roads and transit. Baltimore's commute time is now worse than Washington's. Why? The D.C. Metro system works well, even though ridership is over capacity.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s six-year transportation plan and funding strategy are good news. However, with state funding tight, other projects are being prioritized.

Before asking motorists to pay more in fees and taxes, the governor and the legislature should protect commuters' money and show commuters that our investments at the gas pump and the Motor Vehicle Administration are being used to get us out of gridlock - so we can get to work on time and home to our families.

Transportation dollars cannot be diverted to solve other problems or our state will grind to a halt.

John White

Towson

The writer is manager of public and government relations in Maryland for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Families aren't only visitors to the harbor

It amazes me that the mayor says the Harbor and surrounding areas are a family place and should be kept that way ("O'Malley opposes plan for slots at Inner Harbor," Feb. 28). We didn't hear anything from the mayor when Larry Flynt opened his Hustler Club just blocks from the family-oriented harbor.

And with the city so strapped for revenue for education, I would think the mayor would welcome a chance to pull in out-of-state money from visitors to the harbor (who are not always families). And what better boon to the city's convention business than to add the option of gambling as a draw.

My opinion is this: If you don't like science, you don't have to go in the Maryland Science Center; if you don't like baseball, you don't have to go to Camden Yards; and if you don't like gambling, you don't have to go in the slots facility. It's your choice.

Sure, we want to bill the harbor as a family-oriented entertainment center, but there are more visitors to the harbor than just the families.

G. Lusby

Forest Hill

Gambling isn't what Inner Harbor needs

I am totally in agreement with Mayor Martin O'Malley about not allowing slots at the Inner Harbor ("O'Malley opposes plan for slots at Inner Harbor," Feb. 28).

As a volunteer at the National Aquarium, I am always proud to hear people come to the harbor and talk about how lovely it is and what a great place it is for walking with kids and enjoying the water. The only people who would benefit from slots at the Inner Harbor are the owners of the large hotels nearby where slots emporiums would be located. And that's not the type of attraction we want or need at the harbor.

Visitors don't come to Baltimore's harbor to see one-arm bandits and hear bells and whistles going off. They come to walk along the water, visit the great attractions around the harbor and enjoy the day.

Let's keep the harbor for families, not gamblers.

Geri Schlenoff

Lutherville

Selfish ecologists kill fund for the bay

I am saddened but not surprised that so-called environmental groups successfully lobbied for the defeat of the governor's proposed Chesapeake Bay Recovery Fund ("House panel rejects Ehrlich plan on voluntary funding to aid bay," Feb. 27).

As usual, these self-serving groups are concerned that contributors' "scarce dollars" continue to flow to them to finance their own salaries, perquisites and infrastructure rather than be diverted to fund an effort that would actually benefit the environment.

Barry C. Steel

Phoenix

Cuts to program add to ranks of homeless

The Maryland Department of Human Resources appears poised to unveil a new homelessness production initiative.

In public testimony before the General Assembly and on the pages of The Sun ("Homeless advocates protest freeze of assistance funds," Feb. 27), officials say they may end eligibility in the Transitional Emergency, Medical and Housing Assistance (TEMHA) program for those with "short-term" disabilities of less than 12 months in duration.

Such a move would prove devastating for thousands of adults who depend upon a mere $185 in housing assistance to recover from illness or injury and return to work.

Already as many as 10,000 Marylanders - with short-term and long-term disabilities - will be denied help because of the department's decision to freeze assistance to new applicants through the end of the fiscal year.

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