In killing the ICC, the governor shows...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

In killing the ICC, the governor shows a limited vision

As a strong supporter of the Master Plan Alignment for the Intercounty Connector (ICC) since entering public office in 1991, I am extremely disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised, that Gov. Parris N. Glendening has decided not to proceed with the ICC.

While this road is controversial, it is also vital to the economic fortunes of the capital region and critical to enable its citizens to commute safely and effectively.

The ICC's elimination leaves the citizens of Howard and Montgomery counties without a safe or convenient transportation system -- and will force commuters to continue to rely on a patchwork of local roads for east-west travel.

The governor's decision largely nullifies the work of the Transportation Solutions Group Mr. Glendening created and undoes years of public planning.

While the governor's reason for rejecting a major portion of the ICC is the road's potential negative environmental impact, Mr. Glendening is prepared to allow dredged material from the Baltimore Harbor to be dumped in the Chesapeake Bay. The inconsistency is very evident.

Clearly, a wide range of alternatives are needed to address the region's transportation needs.

But the governor's plan also calls for selling state-owned lands that could provide transportation alternatives. This will foreclose future options.

In my opinion, these actions signify a lack of vision.

Christopher J. McCabe, Clarksville

The writer represents the 14th Legislative District in the Maryland Senate.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening's decision to kill the Intercounty Connector is a blow to Maryland's economy and quality of life. It will hurt the Port of Baltimore, the Baltimore-Washington International Airport corridor and personal and commercial movement in upper Montgomery County.

Environmental groups are elated. They say stopping highway improvements such as the ICC will cause people to drive less. But who's going to drive less as a result of this decision?

The governor says it is time to "get serious about mass transit." But Maryland now spends as much on mass transit as on its highway network, although highways serve 95 percent of personal travel. How much more serious can we get?

Citizens should take heart that state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and Treasurer Richard N. Dixon are challenging the governor's ill-conceived move ("Schaefer on attack over ICC," Sept. 30).

Robert E. Latham, Glen Burnie

The writer is executive director of Marylanders for Efficient and Safe Highways, a highway advocacy group.

Building more highways won't cure congestion

As a member of the Maryland General Assembly, I'd like to respond to The Sun's article "State, local leaders vow to revive intercounty highway connector plan" (Sept. 26).

Shame on those officials for pursuing a road the voters do not want, which would be an environmental disaster if built. Gov. Parris N. Glendening is doing the right thing in killing this proposal, especially for our children and grandchildren.

The ICC wouldn't even come close to meeting the transportation needs of Montgomery and Prince Georges counties and would not, in the end, move people or cars any faster.

It might for a while move people to and from work more quickly. But we've seen time and again that more roads lead to more traffic and more congestion -- and then, guess what? We need more roads.

We can do much more with $1.5 billion than build a short ribbon of road that could be outdated before it's finished.

We need a comprehensive mass transportation system to move people in all directions -- a combination of bus, overhead and underground rail, light rail and other transportation lines.

Why don't we put the money into finding different transportation solutions -- ones that move people, rather than move more cars on highways we don't need.

Mary A. Conroy, Annapolis

The writer represents the 23rd District in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Exit ramps would enhance city's proposed bus station

Finally, planners have come to their senses and decided to place the new bus terminal near the Pennsylvania Station train terminal ("Greyhound hopes to create hub," Sept. 23).

This good decision echoes similar designs all over the world. Placing the bus station near the train station enables passengers to transfer easily from one mode of transportation to the other.

The city's current bus station is buried in the inner city, hard to find and hard to reach. Traffic on the city streets impedes the inter-city buses, making trips longer and slower than they need to be.

The new location would be close to the Jones Falls Expressway, which is the city's major connection to the surrounding highway system.

To make it easier to reach the train/bus station from the JFX, I'd envision a dedicated off-ramp from the JFX southbound to the train/bus station and an on-ramp from the station to the northbound JFX.

This would imitate the design of Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

If we can invest hundreds of millions of dollars into our airport, we can certainly find a couple million for some highway ramps for the bus/train station.

Joe Cotton, Baltimore

Asthmatics, environment need more pollution control

What big teeth the tobacco industry has ("Maryland, a pacesetter in fighting big tobacco," Opinion Commentary, Sept. 29). But I'm more afraid of the region's Transportation Steering Committee ("Polluted air hits asthmatics hard," Sept. 29).

The way it deliberately used outdated traffic emission data to qualify for federal highway funding was devious.

Why shouldn't non-smoking asthma victims sue the state for breach of public trust? Lawyers are getting rich prosecuting tobacco companies, then climbing into SUVs and driving home in smog.

Yet, while hybrid cars (part gas, part electric) that offer motorists clean alternatives are about to debut in America, Gov. Parris N. Glendening recently nixed a gas-tax hike. That won't help these fledgling little hybrids sell like crabcakes.

The environment can't afford inexpensive gas anymore. Like asthmatics, it needs politicians it can trust.

D. P. Birch, Baltimore

Government was right to shift gears on tobacco

Andrew Glass' column "Hypocrisy and tobacco" (Opinion Commentary, Sept 27) paints the federal government as a terrible hypocrite for having once encouraged tobacco use and now suing tobacco companies for doing the same thing.

But Mr. Glass utterly ignores that, when research in the 1950s and 1960s unveiled tobacco's dangers, the government's position changed, while the tobacco companies continued their drumbeat of sales messages.

He also misstates the military experience, claiming that if you didn't have something to smoke when the sergeant said "Smoke 'em if you got em," you'd be set to scrubbing pots.

Nonsense. At Fort Dix, I scrubbed pots when I was on KP duty. When the sergeant gave us a break, we stood around and talked -- whether or not we had something to smoke.

Nobody kept a supply of dirty pots in the field to keep nonsmokers busy.

Al McKegg, West Friendship

Stop using drug war to undermine our freedom

Gregory Kane's column on the police invasion of Gloria Brown's house was right on the money ("Police raid on home more damaging to civil liberties than drug trafficking," Oct. 3). It's high time the police and the government were held accountable for such abuses of power.

I'm tired of seeing our government use the drug war to destroy our liberties, and thus the Constitution itself. Eradicating drugs is not worth giving up the freedom our forefathers fought and died for.

Thane Bellomo, Baltimore

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Pub Date: 10/10/99

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