Letters To The Editor


August 07, 2008

Md. can't afford to build the ICC

In "Road block?" (July 31), state officials and AAA Mid-Atlantic officials lament the loss of transportation revenues as Marylanders drive less as a result of high gas prices. This shortage of funds gives us still another reason to cancel Montgomery County's Intercounty Connector.

The Maryland Department of Transportation admits that the ICC would not relieve congestion, and we know it would fuel more sprawl and lead to large increases in driving and greenhouse gas emissions.

We also know that it would destroy thousands of acres of forests with streams and wetlands, and this would have a serious impact on the Chesapeake Bay.

And with declining transportation revenues, moving forward with the ICC is certain to require major cuts in other road and transit projects throughout the state.

The ICC is scheduled to siphon away well more than $2.4 billion in Maryland revenues, including $1.2 billion in toll revenues taken from Baltimore-area toll facilities and other tolls around the state.

Another $750 million would come from borrowing against future federal transportation funding, and $200 million more will come from other state and federal sources.

The total price tag for the ICC, with interest, is $3.1 billion.

Before MDOT spends another dime on the ICC and before we denude another acre of forest, legislators should demand to know what transportation projects MDOT plans to eliminate or delay because of the ICC. And Gov. Martin O'Malley should reconsider how to allocate resources in the face of the global energy upheaval.

In a world of high energy prices and climate change, we simply cannot afford a project conceived in the 1950s.

Instead, we need to invest in a more energy-efficient land-use and transportation future for our children and grandchildren.

It's time to cancel the ICC.

Stewart Schwartz, Washington

The writer is executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

Experiment a step to car-free future

The Sun's article "Parked" (Aug. 3) will surely be an inspiration to many, all the more so because of its naked, if not sweaty, truth and its humor.

I've spent quite a bit of time in Philadelphia and New York in the past three years and have fallen in love again with both cities.

Their greatest appeal is the ease of getting about on foot, by bicycle or, best of all, by public transportation. In either city, a car is a nuisance.

And I've noticed - although I can't substantiate this claim with expensive or extensive studies - that there seem to be far fewer obese folks in those cities, particularly in New York.

All that walking is beneficial for reasons from personal fitness to environmental concerns to having a Zen experience in one's own community.

It is my sincere hope that Baltimore can follow suit, and become a more pedestrian- and biker-friendly city, one that encourages its citizens to leave their cars parked.

Reporter Jill Rosen's weeklong experiment may get us all one step closer.

Myra MacCuaig, Towson

Ignoring Iraqis simply shameful

Does no one else share my shame that we have taken such poor care of people who have put their lives at risk to assist our troops in Iraq ("An Iraqi hero awaits thanks," Aug. 4)?

I would hope there might be an outpouring of generosity and support for all of those Iraqis who served, and often saved, our troops in Iraq - especially the disabled Iraqis.

That generosity should include benefits provided by our government, such as working legs for Saad Ahmed, as well as support from those of us who might live near these displaced Iraqis.

Suzanne O'Hatnick, Baltimore

Why stockpile deadly anthrax?

Here is a question I have yet to see asked: Why does the United States possess and continue to make weapons-grade anthrax ("Anthrax questions," editorial, Aug. 5)?

Given the fact that this weapon is designed for only one purpose - to kill people - how can the U.S. government justify making and possessing such a weapon?

Wasn't Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of such biological weapons one of the reasons we gave for invading Iraq?

Olatunji Mwamba, Baltimore

Palestinian rage is barrier to peace

I would remind the letter writer who claims Israel never intended to negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians that then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was ready to cede 97 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians and make a deal on Jerusalem at the end of the Clinton administration ("Israel didn't want peace pact," Aug. 4).

Yasser Arafat's response was to launch another intifada, bringing additional misery to his people and plunging the region into chaos once again.

The main impediment to peace in the Middle East is the hatred of Israelis that Palestinians teach their children.

Until that changes, no peace deal can be negotiated and no deal can last.

Gary Stein, Reisterstown

Wage floor impedes freedom to work

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