The Great Seneca Highway has recently opened for business in Maryland's Montgomery County. Extending eight miles, the four-lane road neatly bisects Seneca Creek State Park, reportedly one of the county's last wilderness areas. Without a doubt, the park will never be the same. Park manager Cliff Denney in press reports admits that wildlife migrations have already been affected, but professional expertise is arguably not needed to see that a road as wide as a football field cut through a park near its widest section just might affect migration.
The road was built at a cost of $47 million, or nearly $6 million per mile. For comparison, startup cost for the Virginia Railway Express, commuter lines that will run from Manassas and Fredericksburg to Washington are pegged at $60 million. The cost in environmental degradation from auto exhaust cannot as yet be so easily calculated, nor can the number of animal deaths resulting from the more than 40,000 autos per day that will use the road. Animal welfare workers and environmentalists justifiably fear the worst, notwithstanding the "bridges" built for wildlife to cross the road.
Well, what the hell, let's keep things in perspective. It's really only a few trees and animals. Besides, in the words of Montgomery County's transportation director Robert McGarry: "It's a good-looking road." And, added Denney, "We're going to have to provide for people, and salvage as much of the resources as we can."
As long as we view the planet's ecology as something separate and independent from humanity, as something that can be manipulated indefinitely to provide humanity with "good-looking roads," these remarks will be made by those who should know better, and we will be even farther from a livable environment for our children. ROBERT McCONNELL Fredericksburg