Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The recent letter concerning school zone speed enforcement ["Slow, School Zone," Dr. Gridlock, Nov. 7] got our attention.

Speed enforcement in and around our school zones is a top priority of the Fairfax County Police Traffic Division. In addition to the many hours of attention this problem receives from the local district police stations, the Traffic Division has issued over 1,200 speeding tickets and nearly 200 warnings this year to motorists who ignore this responsibility.

We continue to target school zones throughout the county with dedicated enforcement efforts, as well as keep trying to get the message out through the media, PTAs and any method available that we all need to ensure the safety of our schoolchildren by driving responsibly.

After 25 years in law enforcement, I am still amazed at the total disregard some motorists display when operating near our schools and school buses.

Thanks for helping to get the message out! We will keep trying to get the point across through aggressive enforcement!

Capt. J. F. Bowman

Commander, Traffic Division

Fairfax County Police

And thank you, captain. We appreciate your efforts to help safeguard our most important resource -- our children.

I can tell you that from my mail in recent years, there is one area where residents complain about chronic and dangerous speeding: the roads around Oakton High School.

I believe at least one teenager has been killed in a car crash there and at least one pedestrian has been fatally injured by a speeding motorist.

I welcome any nominations you readers may have of schools in Fairfax County that desperately need the attention of Capt. Bowman's officers. Please use specifics in detailing the problem.

A Rail Solution

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) trail is a nice bike path, but it is luxury we can no longer afford. Local officials should seriously consider buying the path and turning it into a rail line again.

Start the line at Crystal City, run it along the path all the way to Purcellville in Loudoun County. It would be more beneficial than building a rail line out to Dulles along the toll road for several reasons:

* Smart growth. The trail goes through cities and towns not located along the Dulles Access Road.

* Areas such as Arlandria, Shirlington, Falls Church and Columbia Pike would see high density development around their rail stations.

* This line would also serve as an alternative to the crowded Orange Line, because it would serve a separate corridor.

The only real challenge to building a rail line is there would have to be many crossings, to separate the rail line from traffic.

Northern Virginia, it is time to go back to making the W&OD a railroad again.

Alfred Regnery

Alexandria

I'd be interested in a feasibility study that also takes into accounts the needs of bicyclists. What do you folks think?

Fed Up With Lawbreakers

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

As a van pool rider who sees her commute time increasing from 45 minutes to over an hour daily for no apparent reason other than HOV violators, I had to write.

Each morning those who are legally in the HOV lanes are delayed by drivers who clearly are not.

What really irks me are those blatant drivers who are seen violating the HOV laws daily, cruising along as if they have not a care in the world.

Because my van pool gets on HOV-3 at its starting point on Interstate 95 and gets off near Washington, we get to see it all . . . and it is not pretty.

We all are aware that state police do not have the funds or manpower to effectively patrol HOV lanes, but isn't there a way that the fines could be increased to $200-$500 per violation to stop this practice?

Stephanie Drummond-Brown

Stafford

That's what California does, and readers report there are far fewer violators in those HOV lanes. I have been pushing for stiffer fines here (the first offense now is about $75), but it is going to take some courageous soul in the state legislature to take up the cause.

Frustration with the number of HOV violators is still the complaint I receive most often from Virginia readers.

Bring On the Vans

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I read in your Oct. 3 column the suggestion from Sally Kelly for van service in and around the Washington area. That really would be a great service. Such vans could travel in the HOV lanes as well.

I got the idea from my son who lives in a small town in Virginia, Gordonsville, but works in the next town, Orange. Orange has a van service like the one that was suggested in your column.

My son meets the van across the street from his house, then the van travels through Gordonsville at selected stops and picks up others. Then it makes the trip to Orange, stopping along the way to pick up more people. It travels this route several times a day. When it's time for my son to come home from work, the van is there to pick him up. The distance between the two towns is about nine miles.

The van service works for them. Maybe it can work for the District. It sure would be something for politicians to think about.

Sharon Lambert

Richmond

I'm interested in knowing more about van service. I believe some employers have shuttles from Metro stops to places of employment. I'd like to know which ones work well.

Police Deserve Thanks

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In response to your question about whether the police presence is out there for drunk drivers and aggressive drivers [Dr. Gridlock, Oct. 13] . . . the answer is yes it is.

My husband is a police officer and frequently puts in time on these very programs. You may not realize they're out there, but rest assured that they are.

I know I'm biased, but it's so frustrating to see how many readers of your column come down hard on the police officers.

They're hard-working men and women who deserve our thanks instead of our constant whining and complaining that they aren't doing this or aren't doing that.

One minute people are complaining that they aren't doing enough enforcement, and then when they do pick up the pace in that particular area, they complain about the inconvenience.

Michelle Gomez

Woodbridge

I believe that most residents appreciate enforcement of traffic violations. They just want to see more, particularly on tailgaters, speeders, line crashers and those illegally in HOV lanes.

E-ZCheaper

In the Dec. 1 column in the Metro section, reader Daniel Morgiewicz of Burke complained about a $1-a-month surcharge that had been 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 for swift passage through the toll gates of the Interstate 95 corridor.

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

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Those steamed about the $1-per-month maintenance fee for E-ZPass imposed by the E-ZPass consortium (mostly New Jersey and New York City area toll authorities) should obtain an E-ZPass instead from the Delaware River and Bay Authority, which operates the Delaware Memorial Bridge. It charges no such fee.

Information is available at www.drba.net.

Gary M. Greenbaum

Fairfax

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Your item about E-ZPass charging an additional $1 monthly fee is only partially correct. A few of the participants in the E-ZPass consortium (albeit the major ones) are charging a $1 monthly fee, but many are not.

I got my E-ZPass from the Delaware River Port Authority at www.drpa.org, whose E-ZPass program has no monthly fees, and the transponder is provided at no cost to those who allow credit card billing on their account.

Bill Ulman

Annandale

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The $1-per-month surcharge for E-ZPass only applies to E-ZPass transponders obtained from the Regional Consortium, Web site www.ezpass.com. This was imposed upon them 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): www.ezpassmd.com.

* E-ZPass of Delaware River and Bay Authority: www.ezpassdrba.com.

* E-ZPass of New York: www.e-zpassny.com.

Rush Wickes

Blacksburg

Thanks for the Web sites.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Sunday in the Metro section and Thursday in Fairfax 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.