Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

March 28, 2004

Article on Route 32 raises red flags

On Wednesday, March 10, there was a small, seemingly innocuous article regarding safety improvements at Route 32 and Burntwoods Road ("Engineering work begins on intersection"). However, on closer examination several red flags should quickly go up. The most blatant one is, why would a mere safety improvement at one intersection cost $25 million? Could this be the SHA's back door method to begin the widening of Route 32, for $200-plus million? The next question is, why was the Burntwoods intersection, probably one of the least dangerous along that strip, targeted for safety and based on six-year old statistics of five deaths in 1998 that occurred elsewhere scattered along the road? Since 1998, the death rate has dramatically decreased as a result of many safety improvements by the SHA. So why weren't these more recent statistics used to promote this project?

Another red flag vigorously waves when we examine this proposal's consequences. Combining the traffic of three roads, Ten Oaks, Burntwoods and Pfefferkorn, into one in order to access Route 32 via an overpass and ramps is a formula for major congestion and the removal of traffic signals on Route 32 will result in much swifter traffic, making the merge into the one lane on Route 32 extremely hazardous. The domino effect will then have debilitating and dire results on Route 32 further north of this point. This alleged "safety" improvement would result in more, not fewer, accidents. So perhaps the intent here is not safety at all but purely to allow Route 32 traffic to flow unimpeded and set the perilous stage to force the widening of Route 32.

Now for the most perplexing questions raised by this little article. Why did this announcement about this intersection warrant such an entourage of political and transportation officials, including none other than the lieutenant governor himself? If it was of such importance why was only the press invited, not the public? Isn't it interesting that our former delegate Robert Flanagan, present at this ceremony, is now the Secretary of Transportation and our state senator Robert Kittleman's wife is now Deputy Secretary? Elevating this project to a priority certainly appears to show favoritism for their own turf and personal agendas.

Surely in the microcosm of Route 32, the Burntwoods intersection is not the priority. More globally, that intersection does not merit $25 million nor such prestigious attention, especially in light of Maryland's deficit. It is unconscionable that this state cannot afford to educate our children and yet this administration is willing to spend $25 million on an intersection that is currently functional and safe. If this is how the revenue from a transportation tax will be spent, Mr. Ehrlich should rethink his plan. The voters of Maryland demand a more prudent use of their taxes.

In the end, this little article about this little intersection raises not only the question "Can we afford $25 million for one intersection?" but "Can we afford this brand of politics?"

Debbie Izzi

West Friendship

A call for youth to be responsible

Your front page article ("School bells exacting a toll," March 21) was a perfect example of how our young people are not only spoiled with material wealth, but know little of responsibility or hard work.

Howard County was once a rural farm community. The children of these farmers got up before dawn to do farm chores before leaving for school. Most of them walked a long lane to the bus stop on the main road.

Even now there are teen-agers that must help with chores and feed their animals before going off to high school. These jobs help build character and a realization of their responsibility to care for others. If they go to bed early enough, it's easier to get up in the morning, do chores and arrive at school on time. If activities the night before take up sleep time - too bad! Kids need to know their priorities.

Most Howard County children live in affluent neighborhoods. Their parents chose to live there. No one walks to school these days. School bus stops are very close to home.

One afternoon, not long ago, I followed a school bus in a western Howard County area. The homes are very large and built on large lots. The bus stopped every two to three minutes to drop off a teen-ager at his driveway.

Perhaps the county should change neighborhood pickups to one stop pickup and one stop drop-off. This would allow the kids to sleep a little longer, providing Mom drives them to the pickup destination and the kids would get much needed exercise walking home from the bus stop.

Patricia Stebbins

Ellicott City

Article on Quinter cynical, unfair

Your article "Quinter keeps a high profile in first term" (March 17) cynically seems to fault Del. Neil F. Quinter for being a high-energy advocate of all-day kindergarten in needy schools and having the temerity to issue news releases about his activities.

You might be interested to know what Delegate Quinter does out of the spotlight. For nearly three years, Mr. Quinter has been the pro bono attorney for Oscar Antonio Lopez-Sanchez, a Salvadoran immigrant who was shot in the back by a Columbia teen-ager and left paralyzed for life.

Mr. Quinter has spent countless hours researching the case, writing briefs, and making courtroom arguments. He has been a tireless advocate for Mr. Lopez-Sanchez's rights as a crime victim: that he should receive the full restitution permitted in juvenile cases and that he should be treated as more than a legal bystander in his own case. Mr. Quinter recently argued for Mr. Lopez-Sanchez's rights before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

For all he has done, Mr. Quinter has received not a penny nor a shred of publicity.

If the General Assembly had more legislators with Neil Quinter's energy, perseverance, and keen sense of justice, we would all be better off.

Adriana Ramos Bock

Columbia

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