Kiehl: There have been various attempts in the legislature over the years to ban drivers from using cell phones. All of these attempts have failed. That cell phone industry can be pretty powerful, and they don't like attempts to reduce the number of places where people can use their phones.
In some very congested parts of the country, lights are used to regulate traffic entering highways. But I'm not sure the situation has reached that point here. And that does raise the issue of people getting up to highway speeds from a standstill -- which could itself be dangerous.
As for the quality of Baltimore drivers -- well, I used to work in the world's retirement capital, South Florida, so I've been favorably impressed with the general courtesy and skill shown by this region's drivers.
C.Meisner, Baltimore: Is there anything planned for the intersection of eastbound I-70 and the Beltway? The backup on I-70 gets longer and longer in the afternoons, but it seems like the triple-bridges structure will make it impossible to add more lanes at this trouble spot, either on I-70 or the Beltway.
Kiehl: Officials say they are looking at that section of the Beltway, but any solutions would be in the long-term. They also say the easiest fix would be adding a lane from I-70 eastbound to I-695 southbound, because that ramp does not go over the triple bridges, so it may be easier to do. But still, it would be long term.
Steven Baxter, New Windsor: How can HOV and toll lanes even be considered as a way to help the congestion problem? If you have ever driven I-270 during rush hour, you can see that the HOV lanes only cause more congestion and delays for the majority of drivers, most of which don't have many options to get to work. Toll lanes are just another tax burden added to the citizens of this state. Due to the Baltimore metro area's poor mass transit system, the only option is to expand existing roads and build new ones. Unless there is a significant plague in the future, population growth is inevitable and the current proposed measures aren't even close to stopping the bleeding, let alone being a good solution. That's why the ICC should have been built years ago.
Kiehl: The toll lanes are considered a solution simply because they would help the state raise the money it needs to build new lanes -- lanes that wouldn't get built otherwise. I have been blessed with the good fortune of rarely having to drive on I-270 during rush hour. But perhaps if HOV and toll lanes were more widespread, and better designed and marked, they wouldn't cause such havoc and confusion for drivers.
Alisha, Baltimore: How are the toll managers going to keep track of what is what? Is there going to be a little station built like the Key Bridge and the tunnel to separate the tolls and the non-toll lane? Where are the funds from the Key Bridge and the tunnel going? Wouldn't they go to the Beltway and funds for the Beltway?
Jessica K., Dundalk: With tolls, wouldn't people having to stop and get change together take forever? Won't traffic be slower during construction? Why don't we just keep the money we would spend on the toll lanes and all the other construction involved and add to that by trying to figure out another way to raise the remaining amount we need.
Kiehl: I'm going to take these two questions together since they raise similar issues. Under the toll lanes concepts being considered, there would be no toll stations. It would all be electronic and done at highway speeds -- no need to slow down. Toll booths, of course, would cause such massive delays as to cancel out the value of the lanes.
As for the tolls on the Harbor and Fort McHenry tunnels -- because that money is raised by the Maryland Transportation Authority, it can only be spent by the authority on its roads, which include those tunnels, the Bay Bridge, I-895 and the Kennedy Highway (otherwise known as I-95 from Caton Avenue in Baltimore City all the way up to the Delaware line). All other highways in the state are run by the State Highway Administration, which is funded by the state and cannot take money from the transportation authority.
Meagan Rapski, Baltimore: If tolls are supposed to speed up traffic, wouldn't workers get frustrated waiting forever [at toll booths] and maybe some will find ways around the tolls or even quit their jobs?
Kiehl: Hopefully, the electronic toll collection will keep everyone sane and no one will quit their jobs.
Russall Kujan, Catonsville: I live in the Dunmore area of Catonsville, which is located next to the Inner Loop of the Beltway between Frederick Road and Edmonson Road. Our community has been waiting for years for a sound barrier to be built next to our community on the Beltway. My question is, does the Department of Transportation plan to finally construct an overdue Beltway sound barrier next to our communities by this fall? I could not tell from your article. Thank you, and keep up the good reporting.