Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Is there a way to get to the George Washington Parkway heading north (away from National Airport) from the Courthouse section of Arlington?

What is the best way to get to the Beltway from there?

Every time we get on the parkway, we're heading in the wrong direction!

Rachel Kolliopoulos

Arlington

A way to get onto the northbound GW Parkway is via North Lynn Street in Rosslyn. Take the entrance to the parkway just to the left of Key Bridge.

Assuming you can't use I-66 because of HOV restrictions, another alternative is to take Courthouse Road to Route 50 and turn right. Proceed on Route 50 to the Beltway. Good luck.

Another Way to Broadway

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In your Oct. 3 column, you described a cheaper and more scenic route to New York via Interstate 270 and Pennsylvania. There are other variants of this route, but in any case you surely meant to say Route 581 east (and not west), which then connects with I-81 and then I-78 east of Harrisburg.

Anthony Di Iorio

Arlington

A reader who regularly travels this route wrote to say that Route 581 west to I-81 is less congested and simpler than taking Route 581 east to the same road. I'd like to hear from other readers who have compared the two options.

Either way, connecting with I-81 north and then I-78 east across Pennsylvania and New Jersey will provide a more scenic (and cheaper) alternative to the I-95 corridor. The I-78 connection with the New Jersey Turnpike is just a stop or two south of the parkway exit for the Holland Tunnel.

Room to Get Up to Speed

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Regarding your column about stopping behind other cars at stoplights:

A number of years ago, I read the results of a study that showed that, after the light turns green, a line of cars with gaps between them (two to three car lengths) is able to start up more quickly -- and get through the intersection faster -- than a line of cars without gaps.

Just one more reason to leave some room between you and the car ahead of you!

Neil Schuldenfrei

Alexandria

Getting Away With Meter Feeding

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

This is in response to Tim Cline's letter concerning meter feeding and moving your car ["How Close Is Too Close," Metro, Sept. 28]. Over the past 20 years, I have parked intermittently on the streets near my workplace in downtown Washington.

My co-workers and I have never been fined for meter feeding. We park in one place all day. As long as the meter is fed, I don't believe the city cares who is doing it.

The parking control aides appear to monitor only those cars on streets with two-hour free parking.

Tracy Frazier

Burke

Count yourself lucky. What you are doing, in feeding the meter, is a violation of District parking rules. Parking control aides have been known to make notes of which vehicle parks where and issue a ticket if the car is still there beyond the posted time limit. This is regardless of whether the motorist still has time left on the meter.

No Exceptions to Speed Limit

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Today on my way to work I was in a 25 mph school zone on Edsall Road in Alexandria. A car came up behind me in the left lane and started honking his horn.

When I reached the end of the school zone I sped up to 35 mph (the speed limit for that section of road). When the right lane was clear the person passed me on the right, clearly agitated that I had been moving so slowly in the passing lane.

When we came up to a red light he had moved back over to the inside lane several cars ahead of me. I pulled up beside him and put down my window and explained that when he honked at me we had been in a 25 mph school zone. He proceeded to explain that I was in the passing lane and that the 25 mph didn't apply to the passing lane.

All I could say at that point is a 25 mph school zone is 25 mph. . . . I was dumbfounded.

Would you mind reinforcing to your readers the importance of the school zone traffic laws?

Margaret Loewenstein

Springfield

What could be more important? Also, I would not recommend engaging a lawbreaker; the chances of an escalating incident are probably greater than converting the oafish stranger to reason.

Go-and-Stop Method?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I wonder if you have any opinion on the British way of handling traffic lights. It's been a while since I have been there, but at the time their lights went from red to yellow to green. From green, they went directly to red.

This avoided having people mashing down on the gas when the yellow light warned of the light turning red, as people do here. Green to red means stop -- now.

Yellow means that cars waiting at a red light could proceed with caution, after checking for any cars not able to stop for the instant red light.

Robert Boise

Temple Hills

And we think we've got a problem with red light running now! Wow. You mean you're tooling along a secondary road at 45 mph, and as you approach a green light it suddenly and without warning changes to red? Can we say "Screeech!" and "Ka-boom!" and rear-end collisions?

I don't see how this could work here, but as always, I will consider the wisdom of the readership. I'd like to hear your views.

An Unneeded Diversion

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I thought your answer to Mike Mills on Sunday [Sept. 29] was inappropriate. We have enough distractions to be listening to Books-On-Tape while we drive. Driving here demands our full attention. Who can concentrate on a book?

Sharon Anderson

Nokesville

Many readers have highly recommended audio books as a way to combat commuter tedium. I haven't heard them express your concern.

The Source of Va. Tags

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Douglas Taylor of Indian Head is puzzled by the number of Virginia license tags he sees commuting from Southern Maryland [Dr. Gridlock, Oct. 3].

As a fellow resident of Charles County who lives off U.S. Route 301, I can account for at least some of them.

Many Virginia cars cross the Potomac River bridge from King George County, Virginia, on Route 301, then take back roads to Route 210 (Indian Head Highway) to get to their jobs in the District.

Carol Rife

Bel Alton

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

A reader asks why there is such a large number of cars commuting from the Southern Maryland area with Virginia tags [Dr. Gridlock, Oct. 3].

This probably has something to do with the Navy transferring its Naval Air Systems Command Headquarters from Crystal City to Patuxent River a few years ago.

This would also include the contractors who support this Navy activity. I suspect a large numbers of these employees lived in Northern Virginia.

Darrell Bachman

Kent Island

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Douglas Taylor of Indian Head asked if there was any advantage for a person living in Maryland to keep their car registered in Virginia.

I can tell him that there most certainly is: Maryland has no car sales tax reciprocity with Virginia (or, as far as I know, any other state). This means that everyone trying to re-register their car from another state has to pay Maryland sales tax on the car's blue book value as a condition of registration; this is in addition to any sales tax they may have already paid on the car in another state.

The Maryland sales tax itself isn't much more than would be paid in nearby states, e.g., a car valued at $8,000 would cost its owner about $500 in sales tax to register in Maryland.

What makes this almost-predatory charge so prohibitive is that the cost is often unexpected and does not provide any credit or offset for any sales tax already paid on the car. (There is a less-prohibitive flat rate tax for newly separated or retired military members.)

It is possible that some of the Virginia-licensed cars Mr. Taylor is seeing on Southern Maryland roads are being driven by individuals who knew upfront that they could register their car in Virginia to save money? Virginia does have a slightly lower sales tax than Maryland, and it is only those who garage their vehicles in Virginia who are subjected to that state's infamous "car tax."

I'm betting, however, that most of the individuals sighted by Mr. Taylor are basically honest people who have moved from Virginia to Maryland sometime in the past few years, found out after their move that they had to pay sales tax on their car a second time, and are now just quietly trying to hold onto their Virginia registration until their car's blue book value drops enough to make re-registration to Maryland tags affordable.

S.D. Baker

Owings

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Sunday in the Metro section and Thursday in Alexandria Arlington Extra. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at drgridlock@washpost.com, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.