Always committed to marine traffic

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Your Nov. 26 editorial, "Bad news for D.C.-area drivers," was filled with erroneous information related to the issues surrounding improvements to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in southern Prince George's County. I was appalled by The Sun's assessment that the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Coordinating Committee's recent action was "a dirty trick."

When it was formed several years ago, the coordinating committee had set as a guiding premise that marine traffic on the Potomac River should be preserved. Thus, the coordinating committee's decision to eliminate a fixed bridge from the list of preferred alternatives did not set a new direction at all. It only reaffirmed its original commitment to keep marine traffic flowing.

Any effort to limit tall ship, cruise ship and other commercial vessel height would severely impact the Washington regional economy, far outpacing the cost of building and operating a new drawbridge span. (Imagine the economic impact to Baltimore if height restrictions were imposed on the harbor's tall ship or cruise ship traffic).

The coordinating committee's studies have shown a greater economic loss if a fixed bridge was the solution. The $100 million in lost economic impact far outweigh the annual debt service and operational costs of a moveable span.

Significant restrictions on bridge openings have been imposed for several years and do not interfere with traffic flow during rush hours. The sheer numbers of cars (and accidents) cause the tie-ups, not bridge openings, which are not allowed during rush hour. The new drawbridge proposals would further decrease the number of openings from the current 220 to only 65 -- all during non-rush-hour times.

A logical regional economic viewpoint must prevail in the final analysis of what improvements will be made to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The recent decision of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Coordinating Committee to eliminate the option of a fixed bridge from its final list of alternatives is one to be applauded, not derided.

Kathleen T. Snyder

Alexandria, Va.

The writer is president and CEO of the Alexandria, Va., Chamber of Commerce.

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