ICC will be bargain for area commuters
I agree with the foes of the planned Intercounty Connector (ICC) that the road is a bad deal for taxpayers, unless you happen to live in Prince George's or Montgomery counties or you're a commuter who will travel the ICC ("Planned ICC tolls too high, foes say," Dec. 28).
But the statement by Montgomery County Councilman Phil Andrews that the ICC "won't be accessible to a lot of people if the state's planned tolls go into effect" really holds no substance.
The way I see it, the projected toll rate of 17 cents per mile will be a real bargain for the people who will be using the 18-mile ICC.
For comparison, look at what others are paying in tolls for the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, the Fort McHenry Tunnel, the Francis Scott Key Bridge and the Bay Bridge.
Each of the tunnels and Francis Scott Key Bridge costs $2 a toll. And the Bay Bridge, at 4.3 miles long, has a toll of $2.50, or 58 cents per mile.
So the ICC's toll is projected to be 17 cents per mile? What a bargain.
The people who will be using the ICC have to decide what is more important to them, their time or money, then make the appropriate choice.
But they should stop complaining about the planned toll for use of the ICC. All Marylanders are sharing in the road's cost through their taxes.
If drivers feel the toll is too high, they don't have to use the ICC. But they will still benefit because those who will value their time more will use it and thus ease the traffic congestion on the other traveled routes.
Tolls a better way to pay for new roads
The criticism by Montgomery County Councilman Phil Andrews and other Intercounty Connector opponents about the expected price of its tolls is disingenuous at best ("Planned ICC tolls too high, foes say," Dec. 28).
Motorists themselves should decide whether it is worth paying a toll or not.
Mr. Andrews and others have every right not to use the ICC in the future. But arguing that tolls will be too expensive so the project shouldn't be built is akin to someone who doesn't like ballet arguing that tickets for The Nutcracker are too expensive, therefore the show shouldn't come to town.
Even for people of relatively modest means, this new toll road could provide significant benefits.
After all, is it better to pay $3 for a toll to avoid being late for an important meeting or being late to pick up your child from day care?
As a toll road, the ICC and projects like it would focus resources on the most essential transportation projects.
Right now, for example, tax money from Maryland is sifted through a byzantine and corrupt system in Washington that in turn sends money to other states - and to pay for projects such as that famous "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska.
The use of tolls can provide a way to break free from that broken socialist model - one that taxpayers and motorists alike can support.
Paul J. Gessing
The writer is director of government affairs for the National Taxpayers Union.
Flanagan still fails to grasp transit woes
When State Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan defended the planned high tolls for the Intercounty Connector by comparing them to the high fares people pay to ride the Washington Metro system, it indicated to me that he has no business being in his position ("Planned ICC tolls too high, foes say," Dec. 28).
The fact is that many of the riders of the Washington Metro system are federal government employees who receive transit subsidies from their employer to help defray the increasingly high toll the system requires and to encourage ridership.
And despite Mr. Flanagan's belief that "nobody is criticizing the fares on the Washington subway system," people complain all the time about the high fares and increasingly poor performance of that system. Mr. Flanagan really needs to walk his beat a little more.
New regulations add to the cost of energy
Enough is enough. As an avid reader of The Sun, I am getting bored with the constant whining on the letters page regarding Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., global warming and other environmental issues ("State can do more to combat warming" and "Fighting pollution no injury to citizens," letters, Dec. 27).
The environmental community has clearly engaged in a letter-writing campaign that is tired and misinformed.
It apparently does not understand that any increase in the cost of energy hurts those who can least afford it.
The people who were hit hard by increased gasoline prices this fall and natural gas prices and home heating oil costs this winter can barely afford another hit because environmentalists want the state to sign on to more symbolic acts.
Thank goodness the state of Maryland is smart enough to avoid mandatory restrictions on carbon dioxide and has a governor who understands the impact of ill-advised regulations on our energy costs.
The writer is an energy lobbyist in Washington.
Governor displays mean streak, again