The readers ask, the columnist answers:
From Mary Elizabeth Burns of Arlington: I was recently in Chicago, where there's a major crosstown expressway running right through the center of the city. About a month ago, I was in Los Angeles, where there are several crosstown freeways. The same is true in Denver, Houston, every place I can think of except good old D.C. I know that citizens' groups blocked the extension of I-95 through the city back in the 1960s, but is there any chance a crosstown freeway is ever going to be built here? (I don't count the Southeast Freeway because it doesn't cross the whole town.)
Not much of a chance, Mary Elizabeth. The problem isn't only the politics; it's the cost.
Let's say you wanted to run a crosstown freeway from Chain Bridge to the point in White Oak where Interstate 95 joins the Beltway. By my quick count, you would have to acquire and demolish at least 8,000 buildings to make way for the pavement, the ramps and the supporting structure. That would take millions upon millions of dollars, probably many more millions than we are willing to spend.
And what of the social cost? A crosstown freeway would displace hundreds of families, intensify air pollution, slash a huge gash through Rock Creek Park and probably kill dozens of local businesses, because it would be easier to get to the suburban competition. Add it up, and it doesn't appeal.
From "Jane Jones" of Northwest: I'm not going to give you my real name because I'm listed in the phone book, and that's the problem. I've been getting obscene phone calls for the last six weeks. I've had them before, and it's usually a couple of kids who shout a dirty word into the phone and then hang up, giggling. But this man is much smoother and more sophisticated. I didn't recognize his voice at first, but now I'm beginning to think I might know him. I work in a big office downtown, and I have a sneaking feeling he works with me. It gives me the creeps. Is there anything I can do?
Several things, "Jane." You can change your phone number. You can have your phone disconnected for a month, then reconnected, which may throw him off the scent or dishearten him. In any case, you should certainly hang up as soon as you realize that it's he on the line. Don't reason with him and don't tell him where to go. Just get rid of him. The less encouragement and time you give this joker, the better.
If you genuinely suspect that the caller is a coworker, you might want to discuss the problem with the boss. Unbeknownst to you, other women in your office may have had the same experience, and the boss may suspect (or know) who the caller is. If telling the boss puts a stop to the calls, and/or leads to criminal charges against the man, it'll be worth the few minutes and the embarrassment.
From Bernie Weintraub of Silver Spring: I'm as sticky as the next guy, but I'm getting sick of all this "Washington macho" about how humid our summers are. Do we have the most humid summers or don't we?
According to the National Weather Service, Bernie, we are mere pretenders to the humidity throne. New Orleans, Miami, Jacksonville and St. Louis, in that order, are the major U.S. cities that "out-sticky" us in the course of an average summer.
From Sylvia Gordon of Marlow Heights: I was down on the Mall last Sunday and I passed a woman who was wearing the funniest T-shirt. It said, I'M NOT A TOURIST, I LIVE HERE. I think every Washingtonian ought to have one. Where can I get mine?
Funny you mention the word Washingtonian, Sylvia. The magazine by that name created and sold the I LIVE HERE T-shirt seven years ago as part of a promotion campaign. But the shirts went like hotcakes, there aren't any more in stock and there are no plans to rejuvenate the promotion campaign, says a spokesman for the magazine.
Too bad. Like you, I thought the shirt was standard equipment for those of us in River City. But like you, I never got around to getting one. Any chance for another chance, magazine brethren and sistren?