In the Dec. 1 column in the Metro section, reader Daniel Morgiewicz of Burke complained about a $1-a-month surcharge added to his monthly E-ZPass account.

I suggested he figure out whether it is worth an extra $12 a year to have a transponder that allows swift passage through toll gates of the Interstate 95 corridor.

Readers, once again proving they are the best resource, have better suggestions.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I noticed in one of your columns that you commiserated with an E-ZPass user who, because of the new $1-a-month fee, was returning his E-ZPass transponder and going back to cash tolls.

In fact, only a limited number of organizations charge these fees. If you order your E-ZPass from the Delaware River Port Authority, no monthly or annual fees are charged. You can download an application at

Susan Orth


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I drive up the Northeast corridor only occasionally, but I'll keep my E-ZPass despite the new $1-a-month fee. The time savings in the E-ZPass lanes can be considerable, and discounts at some toll facilities for using this pass (e.g., 75 cents on the Delaware Turnpike) take some of the sting out of the new fee.

A list of discounts can be found at

Now, if only the Dulles Toll Road would get with the program.

Art Chimes


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The $1-per-month surcharge for E-ZPass only applies to E-ZPass transponders obtained from the Regional Consortium, Web site This was imposed by New Jersey, whose three toll roads are members of the Regional Consortium and ran up major cost overruns in installing their system incorrectly.

The E-ZPass brand is still free, without surcharges, at numerous providers. I suggest you mention these in your next column. Surcharge-free providers include:

* E-ZPass of Maryland (formerly M-TAG):

* E-ZPass of Delaware River and Bay Authority:

* E-ZPass of New York:

Rush Wickes


Thanks for the Web sites.

Interchange Update Here is an update from Dave Hammers of the National Park Service on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Route 197 interchange.

Repair work on retaining walls should be completed by the end of the month. Periodic lane closures will occur until then. Final surfacing has been postponed until spring.

This project has attracted much attention because it is the last on the 20-mile parkway rehabilitation that began about 15 years ago.

As for your suggestions of extending the entrance ramp from Route 212 onto the northbound parkway for one mile to meet the exit ramp onto Route 197, Hammers said that there was no plan to do so and that he had not heard the suggestion anywhere other than this column.

Perhaps when the Route 197 project is finished, more Route 212 traffic will enter the parkway at Route 197.

Lack of Safety a Crime

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Thanks to bicycle thieves and the incompetence of Union Station, I will now be clogging Metro rather than riding my bike to the office.

I have devoted much time and expense to keeping a bike locked overnight at the bike racks (I ride the MARC train every morning) only, like so many others, to have the bike vandalized and stolen.

I had covered my five-speed bike with black tape to "uglify it," used a contractor-grade lock and 5/8-inch-thick chain to protect frame, tires, seat and even handlebars.

Judging by the remnants, the thief/thieves apparently used a blowtorch! Just a bunch of guys standing around with a blowtorch! Why should that catch anyone's eye?

What infuriates me is that the bike racks are used by so many people, in full view of the west side entrance of the station, Metro, Massachusetts Avenue and the Postal Museum.

The thieves hit the same spot week after week, so much so that Union Station employees regularly cut vandalized bicycle carcasses off the racks.

Is this crime really so hard to prevent? Couldn't a security camera be aimed at the bike racks? Maybe a sting using a LoJack-equipped bike? Doesn't it make sense to encourage use of bicycles in this crowded city?

Can you imagine how many bicycle thefts and other crimes, some of them perhaps violent, are perpetrated by the same Union Station bicycle thieves, over and over again, during the course of a year?

Let's get these guys already.

Jordan Leiter


I'm sorry this has happened to you. Of course, the government agencies involved should provide better, more secure surroundings. Bicycle commuting should be encouraged. Anyone else have a sad story to share about bicycle racks at Metro stations?

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Sunday in the Metro section and Thursday in District Extra. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at, 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.