Speed Enforcement

Driven by Revenue

The Fairfax County police are fooling no one with their claims that their crackdown on Fairfax County Parkway speeders is for safety and not for money ["Police Use New Tools on Parkway Speeders," Fairfax Extra, Nov. 28].

The speed limit of the parkway is below engineering standards, so most folks exceeding the posted 50 mph limit are driving safely. Also, putting a stealth police car on the roadside to track speed constitutes a hazard in itself. Besides the stealth vehicles, they use multiple car chase units to nab speeders.

Are there some bad drivers out there, including some going way too fast? Yes! But the politically correct and cheap parkway design with a divided highway filled with a light per mile speed limit is an invitation to accidents. Stealth vehicles do not advertise police presence and, in fact, have been used by criminals to victimize drivers. The number one way to ensure proper behavior by drivers is by having marked police vehicles patrolling the roads. The problem is that while this may generate better behavior, it lessens ticket revenue. The choice of methods by the Fairfax County police clearly demonstrate where their priorities lie.

Mike McGuire

National Motorists Association

Falls Church

Wood Posts Lead

To Sign Clutter

This letter is in reference to the article about the illegal sign posting going on throughout Virginia, not just Fairfax County. ["Illegal Signs May Be in for Tougher Times," Fairfax Extra, Nov. 21].

This is no one's fault but the Virginia Department of Transportation. Everywhere I look, from stop signs to directional signs to speed limit signs, all of the posts are made of 4x4 pressure-treated lumber. If VDOT would make one simple change from the lumber to a metallic post, it would eliminate most of these tacky signs. Sure, you will still a get a couple of signs taped to the pole, but it will not be nearly as bad as the masses of signs stapled on top of each other.

I realize that you cannot make the change from lumber to metal for the telephone poles. I'm sure there is some sort of cost which makes the metal post too costly, but if other states can afford it, why can't we? Also, by using a metal pole, recycled materials can be used instead of killing trees.

Now, if we can do something to eliminate the election signs and advertisements, we'll be making great progress, but one thing at a time.

Marc Smith


Virginia Withholds

SOL Average Scores

A headline in the Nov. 21 Fairfax Extra said "Standards of Learning Test Scores." It's too bad; that's not what you actually reported. In fact, you can't report the average test scores because the Commonwealth of Virginia doesn't give out that information.

What you did list was the pass rates of each school, and there is a big difference. In other words, "school ABC" that has a pass rate of 98 percent in science might have a mean test score of only 75, whereas "school XYZ" that also has a pass rate of 98 percent could have a mean test score of 86. It's a very important distinction, and you should make note of it.

Suzanne Weiss


County, Army Limit

Transportation Options

I was surprised to read of the military's expansion plans for Fort Belvoir and the comments of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors ["Drawing Battle Lines Over Belvoir," Fairfax Extra, Nov. 21].

A number of those who work at the base found the article equally amusing. In particular, I was astonished at the board's professed concerns over possible traffic congestion, especially in light of their actions this fall concerning public transportation.

I work for the Defense Logistics Agency, one of the many groups relocated to Fort Belvoir, and have been commuting to work by bus and subway since we moved here in 1995. Most of us who have chosen to travel this way have been doing so by way of the Franconia Springfield Metro station since it opened in 1997. Prior to that, the only way to get to the base was to embark on a lengthy bus journey down Route 1 on a single Metrobus line from the Huntington Station 10 miles away. At that time, the Fairfax Connector began operations from the new station to the base, offering us half-hour bus service during rush hour that only took about 15 minutes.

Flash forward to Sept. 17 this year. Without prior notice, Connector informed us that as of Sept. 27 they were discontinuing the portion of their No. 202 route that came onto the base from the subway station. We were shocked and upset since most everyone had come to rely on this one route. The base and our agencies appeared to be as confused as we were. Immediately, we contacted and filed numerous complaints with both the Connector and the Board of Supervisors. Looking for answers, I spoke with Jim Carrell, a county transportation planner, who said that the changes of the route imposed by the base after 9/11 had made it unprofitable to operate. When I said at least 80 to 100 people were affected, I was informed that was considered low ridership. Thanks in most part to our protests, the Connector agreed to operate a limited shuttle service from the affected areas to the station for October on a severely reduced schedule.

In the meantime, we were assured by both parties that they would reach an agreement to correct our situation. Instead, we were told at the end of the month that the service was ending for good and we should make do with existing service. As for the base and our agencies, they more or less shrugged their shoulders and claimed they could do nothing for us.

We are disgusted and angry at the county. Despite their promises that a solution was going to be found, in the end they left us stranded. As far as the existing service, no one is interested in using it any more than we were earlier. One option involves going back to 45-65-minute trips down the congested Route 1 corridor using either the county or Metrobus lines. The other option has us using the only bus from Springfield that still comes here. Although it comes to my complex, it goes nowhere else on the base and only runs three times in the morning and afternoon.

Many have given up and gone back to driving. As for the rest of us, we struggle daily with what now exists. One man must walk 25 minutes from our complex to get to his job at the commissary. Another must ride to our building, connect to another bus going down Route 1, get off at the base's main gate, and then walk a distance to his job. Others are being forced to miss evening classes they are attending.

How can the county profess concern about future transportation problems at the base, when their very decisions are contributing to increased problems now and adding to congestion by forcing people back to their cars? We find their statements to be hollow since their actions have spoken more loudly. One story we have all heard many times since this started is that the county demanded the base pay them $100,000 to continue service here.

As for Fort Belvoir, I am perplexed at how they can be in the process of expanding the base when they lack a decent public transportation system. Why expend resources to consolidate agencies at a "secure" location when you are unable to provide adequate bus service? Spending $28 million to upgrade Defense Threat Reduction Agency's headquarters, which is in my complex, seems odd when their employees must worry if they can get to work on time. New offices, such as Army Materiel Command, mean more traffic and congestion. I have grave doubts that even the Metrocheck cards we are now given to encourage us to ride would be enough of an incentive to make anyone give up their cars once they saw what is here.

If they want us to work here, then the base and the agencies should be willing to do something for us, even if it means establishing a shuttle to the station, whether they use their own or pay to charter one. Security should be here to protect us, not handicap our ability to work, which it seems plays a role more than ever.

I can't help but feel since reading the article that we have become casualties in a conflict between Fairfax County and Fort Belvoir, who both seem incapable of understanding our situation and what their actions have done to us. As for myself, I have no choice but to buy my first car soon so I can continue to get to work in a reasonable period of time. I find it immensely ironic that if I were to drive to my job from where I live in the county, it would take only 25 minutes each way, versus the one to two hours to use public transportation. Many of us here feel abandoned and forgotten.

Larnce Hopkins Jr.