Wider Roads, More Cars And Dirtier Air
As I read about the next proposed phase of this region's never-ending road construction, I can't help but wonder if we are throwing our money away.
The Baltimore Metropolitan Council admits that even if we spend billions more on highways, road construction will not keep pace with growth.
Experience demonstrates that new road construction and road widening projects actually encourage growth. Our congestion and air quality problems are rapidly worsening. We have reached a point where we must start looking at alternatives to new road construction, and then implement these alternatives.
It was encouraging to see the amount of transit projects proposed by the council. If planned correctly, light rail connections to Security and to White Marsh could prove to be more successful than the existing Central Light Rail due to the accessibility and population concentrations along these routes. It interesting to note that the council recommends adding a second track to the existing light rail line so that trains can run more frequently -- a proposal that should have been carried out in the first place.
Another option to relieve congestion is to designate certain lanes on highways as High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. Already proposed for several highways in Maryland's Washington suburbs, HOV restricted lanes provide an incentive for commuters to switch to car and van pools, which can significantly reduce traffic on highways. While single-passenger cars sit in traffic jams, car and van pools and buses flow smoothly along HOV lanes in Virginia and other states.
Perhaps the most appealing part of HOV is the economic factor. The federal government's contribution for interstate highway construction jumps from 80 percent to 90 percent when HOV lanes are added. This could save a great deal of the $452.4 million price tag for the beltway widening proposed by the
Granted, mass transit and HOV do not satisfy the needs of all commuters; however, too many commuters are quick to shun these options without justifiable reasons. People must realize that in order to improve our air quality and congestion problems, everybody will have to make some sacrifices. . . .
Brian ten Siethoff
As a lifelong reader and subscriber to The Sun, I have always held the paper in high regard. However, my reverence for The Sun has been seriously shaken by your article concerning my re-election campaign for alderman of Ward One in Annapolis.
Your reporter made two serious factual errors in an effort to buttress the fallacious charge of my opponent that I am "hostile to business." The article claims that I "fought the opening of a yogurt shop and opposed the expansion of a popular Italian restaurant." This is simply not the case. While the Ward One Residents Association testified in opposition to both of these applications, I cast my vote in favor of them, and a review of the minutes of the City Council substantiates these facts.
. . . My regret is that not only did you not check your facts, but that you also did not speak with the past leadership of the Annapolis Business Coalition (ABC), such as Jim Hollan, Meg Clarke or Francis Drake, as to my record of working with the merchant community in downtown Annapolis. Had you done so, I think your story would have had a decidedly different slant.
Thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight.
ohn R. Hammond
I am writing this letter in enthusiastic support of Rick Staisloff's efforts to serve our community as alderman in Annapolis' Ward 7.
What I wish to emphasize is the character qualities Rick possesses, which are so rare and valuable today. I am especially impressed with his background in government as well as the fresh agenda he would bring to the problems of our city.
As a former alderman from Ward 7, I know the skills that are required to serve effectively on the City Council. Rick Staisloff has all the right stuff.
David O. Colburn
Recently on television, I watched President Clinton "sell" his medical health plan to the American people. . . . This health package is certainly attractive since it will provide health care to all Americans regardless of their employment, marital or age status.
The major question remains, however, is how this proposal should be funded. One of the suggestions is to raise taxes on tobacco products and alcohol. . . . I am entirely in agreement with increasing the taxes on tobacco products for the following reasons: Lung cancer and respiratory diseases cause a special burden on our hospitals and medical services. One of the biggest reasons of these diseases is cigarettes.
As a student, I know that the $1 tax proposed on a pack of cigarettes will deter the younger population from starting and continuing to smoke. . . . The fewer people smoking will result in less disease and deaths from lung cancer and high blood pressure. . . .
As regards to my opinion on the alcohol tax, I am again all for it. Every year, more than 100,000 Americans die from alcoholism and several thousand more people die from alcohol-related accidents. Alcohol-related diseases cost between $86 and $116 billion a year in health expenses. The American Medical Association states that 25 to 40 percent of all hospitalizations are alcohol-related. Alcohol is also one of the major causes of heart attacks. Alcohol abuse is an important issue that affects the American youths and schools today. . . .
I will be in complete disagreement, however, if the Clinton administration has any ideas about increasing taxes on gasoline for funding health reform. As of Oct. 1, Americans have started paying an additional 4 cents a gallon tax on gasoline. This is supposed to aid in reducing the deficit. Whenever the government needs money, gasoline seems to have become an easy target on which to impose a tax. As a teen-ager and soon to be a driver, I know that any further tax on gasoline will cause hardship on students who most times get paid minimum wage and have to maintain their cars as well as pay for college tuition.
In conclusion, I applaud Hillary Rodham Clinton for her good work. . . .