Building ICC won't cut traffic, reduce pollution

Thank you for emphasizing federal authorities' rejection of the proposed Intercounty Connector (ICC) and the damage it would do to air, water and wildlife in Montgomery and Prince George's counties ("Disputed connector road finds momentum," Jan. 28).

We also appreciate the clarification The Sun ran the next day regarding the views of a state biologist on the harm that the ICC would cause to brown trout in the Paint Branch stream.

Readers should not be misled, however, by unnamed "state officials" asserting that the highway will ease traffic snarls on the Capital Beltway and "reduce air pollution by getting traffic moving again." Maryland's 1997 Draft Environmental Impact Statement found that the ICC would not provide substantial relief to drivers on the Beltway or significantly improve travel time to the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

There's also no basis for the argument that the ICC would reduce air pollution.

This begs the question of why this $1.5 billion road is being promoted at a time when Maryland is facing a $1.2 billion budget deficit.

Part of the answer can be found by identifying the development companies and individuals who funded the victory of Montgomery County Council candidates aligned with pro-ICC Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.

It is no coincidence that some of these businesses have plans for subdivisions close to proposed routes of the ICC or may benefit from construction contracts for the road.

Neal Fitzpatrick

Chevy Chase

The writer is executive director of the Audubon Naturalist Society.

Highways can't cure development woes

The article "Disputed connector road finds momentum" (Jan. 28) portrays the more than 50-year debate over the Intercounty Connector as a choice between either wild brown trout or traffic congestion.

The situation is a bit more complex than that.

The Paint Branch wild brown trout serves as an indicator species, like a canary in a coal mine, which shows whether the conditions are good for human habitation. What we do to these fish we also do to ourselves.

If our actions result in degrading the environment and the loss of these fish, then we too will be left to live in those less-habitable conditions.

We all despise the traffic congestion that plagues the metropolitan Washington area. However, traffic congestion is a symptom of a more fundamental problem, namely overdevelopment.

Simply building more roads such as the ICC is not the answer as long as more roads are allowed to generate even more development.

David Dunmire

Silver Spring

Expressway offers a safer alternative

I firmly believe that anyone opposed to construction of the Intercounty Connector should be made to travel today's routes through that area at least once in both the morning and the afternoon.

I use this area at least twice a month, and cannot see how anyone can be against a safe expressway replacing today's dangerous and exasperating routes.

Morris Chodak


Deficits do limit reckless spending

The Sun's editorial "Reversal of fortune" (Feb. 5) suggests President Bush's budget will "Grow the federal budget deficit so rapidly ... there won't be that much money to spend down the road." In other words, government will have to become more responsible about the way it takes taxpayers' money and uses it.

History shows that if there is a budget surplus, the government tends to spend too much and send us back into deficit.

When this deficit grows too big to be tolerated, the government suddenly complains that the deficit is too large and has to cut back its appetite for expenditures until the economy grows and we get back to a tolerable level of deficit.

This dynamic does keep government spending somewhat in check in this era of large government.

Edward Brown


Bonuses for CEOs are just appalling

It is absolutely appalling to read about CEOs getting salaries and bonuses worth millions or severance pay of $3 million after their companies (i.e., Kmart) come out of bankruptcy ("Kmart's new CEO to get $2 million in pay, bonus," Jan. 23).

If these geniuses were that capable, their companies would not have gone into bankruptcy in the first place.

How about giving some money to their underpaid employees? And how can these people live with their selfishness and greed?

Martha Bromberger-Barnea


Stilling the voice of nation's poets

First lady Laura Bush's decision to "postpone" the Feb. 12 symposium on "Poetry and the American Voice" parallels her husband's policies concerning our constitutional right to free speech in general and toward individuals who oppose his politics. And it is ironic that a reading on "The American Voice" would be suppressed for fear this voice may not acquiesce to the call for war ("Poets organize after White House postpones event," Jan. 31).

But the mere possibility that a dissenting voice might be heard through the poets' words apparently caused such panic in the Bush administration that it dared not allow the event to take place.

Our president has drawn his sword and is pointing it toward Iraq. Let us be mindful that in this administration the sword sharpened for war is in the process of cutting down certain civil liberties as well.

Marie Edmeades

Bel Air

Press on into space; pull back from war

As an avid follower of the space program, I am truly troubled by the loss of the Columbia and its crew of seven. However, I must agree with Susan Reimer's view on the subject: The astronauts understood the risks associated with space flight and accepted them as part of their mission ("Shuttle wasn't the disaster we were expecting," Feb. 4).

We can only hope President Bush understands the risks he will impose on military personnel should he involve them in a senseless war with Iraq.

We must press on with our space endeavors, and hope common sense will prevail to prevent a war with Iraq.

Keith F. Kelley


Don't forget soldiers who give their lives

I don't want to take anything away from the seven astronauts who died. Their tragic story probably deserves the extensive coverage it has received.

However, four soldiers were recently killed in a helicopter accident in Afghanistan. Their story was relegated to five short paragraphs on Page 15 of The Sun ("Army helicopter crashes, kills 4 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan," Jan. 31).

Let's not forget the thousands of men and women in the military who put their lives on the line every day to defend our country.

Pete Bickford


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