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Letters to the editor

January 26, 2004

Many roads open to tolls


To the editor:

Your Jan. 13 editorial on the Maryland Department of Transportation's (MDOT) toll study for Interstate 81 leaves your readers with a mistaken impression that tolling is an option being considered only in Washington County. This is simply not true.

In fact, the road you compare unfavorably to I-81, the proposed Inter-County Connector (ICC), linking I-270 in Rockville in Montgomery County to I-95 in Laurel in Prince George's County (hence, the name "Inter"-County Connector), will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to build without tolls.

Nor is the ICC being studied on a whim. This road has been in the general plans of Montgomery and Prince George's counties for more than 30 years. Other roads under study for tolling options include the Baltimore and Washington Beltways, and Route I-270.

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As I am sure you are aware, the Transportation Trust Fund - financed primarily by vehicle titling and registration fees and the gas tax - is going broke. There will be no new highway starts after 2006 without an infusion of new revenue.

But any road financed by tolling would be built and operated under the auspices of the Maryland Transportation Authority, which is financed exclusively by highway, tunnel and bridge tolls, and fees from other revenue-producing projects it built (like parking garages).

One advantage of tolling is that the revenue generated from a given toll facility is used to improve that facility (i.e. I-81), and not shared with other MDOT modes, such as the Maryland Transit Administration.

Using tolls - where appropriate, and where there is a consensus of opinion among local legislative leaders - can accelerate a project's start date and get needed improvements in place before a situation reaches crisis proportions. For this reason, we are studying tolling options all over the state. The I-81 study is just one example.

I-81 is a heavily used road - heavily used by the distribution business that Maryland is proud to have attracted to the area. But truckers tell us that time lost to gridlock resulting from traffic accidents costs them dearly.

With the use of tolling where tolling works, we can improve safety and lower the congestion tax paid every day by truckers and commuters alike.

Robert L. Flanagan
Maryland Secretary of Transportation




Proud of Clear Spring


To the editor:

In the article "Clear Spring girls enduring 53-game hoop loss streak," by Dan Kauffman, I found to have several argumentative concepts. I myself was a member of the Clear Spring varsity basketball team from 1998 to 2002 and have a reasonable knowledge of what occurred during every game and practice. Although I cannot speak for the 2003 team, I can speak for the previous four years, and although we may have not been overly successful does not mean that we were not serious and didn't try our best.

As far as practices are concerned, every practice I attended (which has been every single one) was organized and ranged from warm-up drills into shooting practice into "plays," then into scrimmages. As far as unorganized practices are concerned, I can only remember a handful of them and at those practices we "shot around" and scrimmaged the full two hours. Indeed the practices did have a "laid-back" atmosphere, however I can acknowledge many of the past members being dedicated, did show up every day and did work hard (with a few exceptions) in order to become better.

I took this article as a personal attack because the past members and teams are looked to as "wrecking balls" and non-committed players all as a product of unsuccessful seasons. Unsuccessful seasons do not reflect a lack of dedication, a lack of practice or a lack of responsibility; it reflects needing more practice in broken-down stages and a larger team to confide in; having a team of six players allows no room for rest or injury.

During my playing years the team performed in the Apple Valley League, which was beyond our control. In the league coming from a small school, like Clear Spring, was considered a disadvantage because our team of six was competing against other teams of 15; however, I do recognize that this is no excuse for not winning but it does have its own role.

Although I was in uniform and on the court when Clear Spring last won a game on Feb. 16, 2001, I have no regrets about being a Clear Spring Blazer for four years and am still very proud of not only my achievements but the team's as well, for holding their own. I wish this year's team the best of luck as well as teams to come.

Stacey Yeakle
Clear Spring

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