Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 10, 2004

New toll lanes would do little to cut gridlock

Since our governor promised not to raise taxes, he keeps finding ways to tax us without calling it a tax. And now, instead of waiting for the money, he wants to build bigger roads today and have us pay for them forever, because once a toll goes up, it never comes down ("State wants to add interstate toll lanes," May 4).

But if we really are interested in reducing our traffic congestion, then we need to embrace other alternatives. We have been building roads forever, and the traffic just keeps getting worse.

Creating toll lanes only increases the burden on those who can ill afford it. It also postpones the inevitable realization that our roadways are over capacity and always will be because our population and suburban sprawl are increasing.

The answer lies not in building of bigger roadways, but in finding ingenious ways to reduce congestion.

The state, for instance, could provide incentives for companies in Maryland that allow their employees to work from home one day each week. If every employer participated, this would reduce congestion immediately.

Another alternative is to embrace a real mass transit system - one that would link an expanded subway with light rail, buses and other initiatives yet to come.

My third suggestion is to decentralize our work force. Owings Mills, Hunt Valley, White Marsh, Frederick and other business centers should expand to divert traffic from the traditional mess going into the city daily.

My last recommendation is to be patient and not rush into a toll lanes Armageddon before every other option is explored.

Increasing the cost burden on Marylanders with toll lanes may cure some short-term symptoms, but it will never address the heart of the matter.

Andy Peet

Parkville

Improve the roads leading to harbor

I fully support the continued improvement of the Inner Harbor as outlined in the newly announced Baltimore Development Corp. plan ("City's tourism jewel due for a polishing," May 4).

The birth of the Inner Harbor spawned much of the city's recent growth in commercial development from Canton to Locust Point. But why haven't the additional revenues it has generated helped to contribute to improved roadways beyond a two-block area away from the harbor itself?

As a citizen of Baltimore, I think it is such an embarrassment to have this modern, visitor-friendly area surrounded by road conditions that are just horrible to deal with.

Whether you enter the Inner Harbor area from Interstate 295, or from West Baltimore, or by going south from Charles Village and Mount Vernon, or from Patterson Park, Highlandtown and Canton to the east on some of the major thoroughfares of the city, the roadways are just horrible.

If we want to improve our greatest tourism jewel, why not improve the overall general impression of our city by improving the road system surrounding it that helps people get there?

Larry Caudill

Baltimore

Red-light cameras focus on revenue

I got a huge chuckle as I read the big news that the city's controversial red-light camera program will be expanded ("Red-light camera plan developing in city," May 3). I guess the millions of dollars in revenue the program generates is not enough to get Baltimore's budget into the black, so the amount of cameras (and fines) needs to be increased.

But I thought these cameras were all about safety. Hah! Just roll over and pay your $75, no points on your license, no increase in insurance. This logic just flies in the face of public safety.

In my opinion, running a red light is a serious offense. Yet with these cameras I can do it repeatedly in the city if I choose and the only punishment I will receive is a $75 fine.

That's not a small sum, but at least I can keep on driving. And it makes you wonder what these cameras are really for.

R. Scott Morton

Towson

Warning drivers would add to safety

If the city's intention to install more red-light cameras is for traffic safety and not to increase city revenue, why not put up signs notifying drivers of those intersections ("Red-light camera plan developing in city," May 3)?

Isn't it better to encourage drivers to slow down so they don't encounter a fine, and to save even more lives?

John Gazurian

Baltimore

Abuse costs U.S. its moral authority

As someone who opposed this war in Iraq from the beginning, I was surprised at how surprised I was when instances of abuse of Iraqi prisoner came to light ("Bush tries to quell Muslim uproar," May 7). I think I still believed that, despite the misguided policy aspects of this war, our troops would do the most professional and humane job they could under the circumstances.

And perhaps the one statement of President Bush's that I believed was that the Iraqis are better off without Saddam Hussein. Now I have my doubts about that, too.

This is not to say that most of our troops are not basically good people.

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