Thursday, January 12, 2006

Too Much Talk, Too Late, About Building Dulles Rail

The Jan. 5 Fairfax Extra is crammed (as usual) with opinions about traffic problems and what do about them. I am reminded of a poster with an interesting observation that hung from the wall of a staff meeting room where I worked: "When all is said and done, more is said than done."

Guest column author Christopher W. Walker and letter writer John F. "Jack" Herrity could have saved a lot ink by simply saying, "We don't want to pay for this because it is not in our interest."

Forget crocodile tears about "public notice" or a reference to "the backs of long-suffering motorists." The same lack of vision that has restricted the Potomac River to two major bridges is at work here. Raise the issues of cost and/or "not in my neighborhood" and hopefully the public will run in fear. Beating up on the Metro system also seems to be a local sport and maybe a sure way to build an anti-tax, anti-Dulles rail extension base.

If politicians had foresight and were less enamored with asphalt, they could have extended the Orange Line to Route 234 in Prince William County and collected commuter traffic from western Fairfax along the way, and by extension, Haymarket, Gainesville and Warrenton. Imagine what Interstate 66 might look like today. That opportunity may have come and gone.

And then there is Dulles rail. But it takes vision to see the needs of people in Herndon, Reston, Sterling, Ashburn and, yes, Leesburg. That's where people and businesses are going and will continue to go, rail or not. How many people wistfully long for a Washington & Old Dominion trail laid with tracks instead of asphalt? Too late!

Some of us old people miss streetcars and the fast interurban lines that were so hastily abandoned after World War II. But it is not too late to run rail out in the direction of Dulles. Yes, it will cost money. But then we look back 20 to 25 years and ask ourselves, why didn't we do it then? Same reasons we don't do it now and then rationalize the present. With each delay, the cost goes up.

I find it hard to believe that some of the richest counties -- in terms of tax base -- in the United States can't come up with money to alleviate what is by consensus the biggest problem we face. Nonsense.

Sam Rosenberg


Fair Oaks' Proper Place On the Civil War Map

I am writing in response to the article "Where Local History, Poetic License Meet" [Voices of Fairfax, Fairfax Extra, Dec. 29]. Author Bob Sorensen of Herndon might live about three miles from Fair Oaks, but that is not where the Battle of Fair Oaks was fought. That 1862 battle was part of the Peninsula Campaign, which took place between Richmond and Williamsburg. It was after this battle that Robert E. Lee relieved Maj. Gen. G.W. Smith and took command of the Army of Northern Virginia.

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