Dear Dr. Gridlock:

You asked if we knew of any places in the United States that are gridlock-free. I live in Augusta, Maine, which has about 21,000 people. One of the main drags into the city, Western Avenue, is supposed to be a traffic nightmare. I'm always hearing people complain about the "massive tie-ups" and "dreadful traffic" on the avenue.

Perhaps the reason I've never noticed this is that I moved here from Northern Virginia.

Lesson: People will complain no matter where they live.

J. Phelan

Augusta, Maine

Smooth Sailing

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I nominate Raton, N.M., as a gridlock-free town. It's about 120 miles south of Colorado Springs.

It is at 4,800 feet elevation, which gives it absolutely gorgeous night skies. You feel you can reach out and pick a star from the sky.

I was there on business a number of years ago. The worst traffic jam involved three cars on I-25 when several antelope decided to run across the road.

M.R. Irwin

Fairfax County

Hassle-Free Trips in Indianapolis

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

One of the reasons I moved from Northern Virginia to Indianapolis was to escape gridlock. Here you get into your car, drive to your destination, park and you're done. It's that easy.

Jealous, aren't you?

Rick Del Vecchio


No Gridlock on Northern Neck

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I know of a place that has no gridlock: Northumberland County, Va., about three hours from the Beltway, located on the lower tip of Virginia's Northern Neck. There isn't a traffic light in the whole county.

About five or six years ago there was a big to-do about an intersection that had a half-dozen or so accidents. A traffic light was proposed. But the old-timers prevailed and solved the problem by moving one of the roads.

The county is populated by watermen, farmers, retirees and weekenders who populate the ubiquitous waterways. The closest thing to a traffic jam I saw in the nine years I lived there was between 9 and 10 a.m. at the post office in Burgess--the postmistress put the day's mail out about 9:15 a.m.

Jim Fearson

Fairfax County

Dr. Gridlock has been to the Northern Neck: boated on the Wicomico River; dined at Windmill Point, the Tides Inn and that family restaurant in Tappahannock that has the antiques inside; and visited George Washington's birthplace. This is surely another world, very quiet and still within an easy day's drive of our metropolitan area.

I hear more and more of us talking about it, which may mean the locals in Northumberland County and environs better start planning a Beltway.

Dr. Gridlock remains interested in your nominations of gridlock-free places to live. Things are not going to get any better here. We have to have some hope.

Bill for Insurance Proof Drafted

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

For your information, it is a serious violation of Maryland law to operate a motor vehicle in our state without minimum levels of automobile insurance.

Your recent column made the point that law enforcement personnel in Maryland ought to demand proof not only of driver's license and vehicle registration but also insurance coverage during the course of each traffic stop. Others have called this office to make the same point.

You will be pleased to know that we have already requested the drafting of legislation on this matter for introduction in the year 2000 session of the Maryland General Assembly.

Dana Lee Dembrow (D-Montgomery)

Maryland House of Delegates

Noble thoughts! Enactment of such a law may mean fewer uninsured motorists on Maryland roads, which may mean fewer headaches and losses for law-abiding residents who have accidents with the uninsured.

Many states require an insurance check during routine traffic stops. Now we'd be well-served if Virginia and District of Columbia lawmakers considered a similar law.

Rescinding Riddle Credit

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I think you were too generous when you gave credit to readers who guessed Ford Granada when asked about the license plate riddle ISLEOF.

The correct answer, as in the song "Isle of Capri," was Ford Capri. Granada is a city in Spain, not an island. Grenada is the island.

Heino Pistel

Winchester, Va.

You are right, Mr. Pistel. Dr. Gridlock is hereby rescinding any credit given to readers who guessed Ford Granada. Mr. Pistel, for uncovering this fraud, you get extra credit.

Dr. Gridlock's assistant, Jessica Medinger, contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Monday in the Metro section and on Wednesday or Thursday in the Weekly and Extra sections. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, P.O. Box 3467, Fairfax, Va. 22038-3467, or e-mail him at The Doctor's fax number is 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.