Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

December 01, 2007

Transit plan omits critical area projects

The Sun's editorial "A greener future" (Nov. 26) hit the mark in pointing out the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board's failure to include the Green Line in its long-range transportation plan, "Outlook 2035."

The omission of the Green Line from a planning priority list that will influence federal transit funding runs counter to the Baltimore Regional Rail Plan, which was adopted in 2002 by the Maryland Department of Transportation and contemplates a 30- to 40-year build-out of a comprehensive, integrated rail system for the region.

Failure to include the Green Line in the funding priority list also runs contrary to the state's current Consolidated Transportation Plan, which provides funding for planning the Baltimore-area Green Line's extension to the northeast, along with planning and initial construction funding for the east-west Red Line.

To include only one portion of the Baltimore Regional Rail Plan - the Red Line - as part of that long-range plan calls into question the commitment of the region's top elected officials to a regional rail plan and to transit in general.

The "Outlook 2035" report also misses the mark with respect to the relationship between transportation needs and the efforts underway in Maryland to deal with the impact of the base realignment and closure (BRAC) process.

Although the report makes some small mention of the expected influx of new jobs and new households as a result of BRAC, it makes no effort to connect its planned transportation improvements with BRAC-related expansion.

The "Outlook 2035" report also should have mentioned the efforts to expand MARC commuter rail service into Delaware.

Mentioning that idea, along with plans for the Green Line, would have at least helped make the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board's plan consistent with the ongoing efforts of the governor, the Maryland Department of Transportation, the MARC system and the BRAC subcabinet headed by the lieutenant governor.

Donald C. Fry

Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

It's time to create a Dept. of Peace

I couldn't agree more with Kevin F.F. Quigley and Arthur S. Obermayer that now is the time for us to invest in peace ("To win the peace, restore the corps," Opinion

Commentary, Nov. 27). And I'm one of those Peace Corps alums who is ready to sign on.

Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work at home and abroad to build a positive peace based on strong intercultural relationships and strong collaborative work.

Let's decrease the senseless inequalities that are the root causes of violence and conflict.

Let's drastically expand opportunities for people to serve, engaging young and old alike in experiences that enlarge their world and make it a better place for all of us.

Let's create a U.S. Department of Peace that would be funded with a significant percentage of our military spending and structured to help us develop a skilled professional peaceworker sector.

It all starts with our belief that peace is possible and that each of us can make a difference.

Joby Taylor

Catonsville

The writer is director of the Shriver Peaceworker Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Limits on gun rights a political question

Again we have some uproar over the meaning of the Second Amendment for individual gun ownership ("An individual right to keep, bear arms," letters, Nov. 28).

But I would point out that I am presently unable to walk down to the corner gun shop and purchase a rocket-propelled grenade, or any grenade.

I can buy a machine gun, but only after exhaustive paperwork and special permissions have been approved.

I am allowed (theoretically) to own an automatic rifle, but again, the paperwork is more than tedious.

Indeed, even simply buying a rifle, shotgun or handgun is not as simple as just plunking down some cash and taking the gun home.

As for a right to "bear arms," why, just try to walk around town with a rifle slung on your shoulder and see where that gets you.

So I say to those who insist that the original intent of the Second Amendment confers an individual right to keep and bear arms that such a right is already infringed, and has been for many, many years.

And if, indeed, society has a legitimate interest in infringing the right to keep and bear arms, the gun debate should be about what infringements on this right are acceptable. And this is a political, not a constitutional, discussion.

John Robinson

Baltimore

Proposed bike trail takes wrong route

The Sun's article on the proposed Mount Washington bike trail brings up several interesting issues of governance - in particular, by what provision of law or the City Charter has the city anointed the Mount Washington Improvement Association to speak for all the residents of the community ("Residents blaze new trail," Nov. 23)?

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