In the Dec. 8 column, I asked readers what they thought about a nickel increase in the gasoline tax, with the extra revenue going to mass transit. Some responses:

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The only way to truly relieve traffic congestion in the Washington area is to follow the suggestion of Mark Reese in your Dec. 8 column that the Metro system be dramatically extended.

The Green Line needs to be extended out to Laurel because MARC runs only mornings and afternoons. Extend other lines to Indian Head, Waldorf, Crofton, Dulles Airport, etc., with adequate parking.

The Orange Line parking facilities at New Carrollton are full by 7:30 a.m. Ditto Landover. The Cheverly parking facilities are pathetic. The whole system appears to have been designed by a "committee" that had no concept of foresight about these needs.

Willis Mann


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I read in today's Post that Maryland is considering raising the gas tax by 10 cents per gallon, making us the highest-taxed state in the country on fuel. This would be fine if it would eliminate the traffic problem, but who really believes that will happen?

If new funds are used to build bigger and wider roads, developers will simply follow and overbuild houses, clogging the roads even before they are built.

It's time for the Metro area to bite the bullet and do whatever it takes to build the Purple Line around the Beltway.

Let's tie the spokes of this wheel together and start going in circles for a reason. I much prefer to see people drinking, eating, reading and applying makeup sitting on a rail car than driving slow in the fast lane.

Rick Rogers

Upper Marlboro

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I like your proposal of an extra nickel tax on fuel, but I'd go further: Increase the federal gas tax 10 cents a year for the next 10 years (total increase: $1 per gallon).

Half of the additional income should be used on transportation infrastructure (rebuilding bridges, roads), with the other half going to mass transit, including passenger train travel.

Americans use large amounts of gasoline, because with cheap prices for fuel, consumption has not been an issue. Other nations have made gasoline expensive to encourage conservation. There can be a rebate of taxes for those with low income.

There is no reason 3 percent of the world's vehicles should consume 25 percent of the fuel used in the world.

Chris Miller


Rude Northerners

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

People are complaining about other people not using their turn signals. Don't you know that the people in Northern Virginia, the District and Maryland will not let you in if you have your turn signal on? They are so nasty and rude that letting someone in front of them would be the end of the world.

I recently took a vacation in Fort Lauderdale, and not one time did I even hear a horn blow the entire week I was there.

Everyone there does the speed limit, and they are kind and courteous. And if your turn signal is on, someone will let you in. For you Northerners, it's your attitude that causes aggressive driving. So check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Kenneth Burney

District Heights

Route 29 Lights

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Officials have been stating for a while that their goal is to eliminate all the traffic lights on Route 29 in Howard County. The completion of the overpass at the intersection of Johns Hopkins Road and Route 29 leaves only one traffic light left.

It lies on the southbound lanes, just below Routes 29 and 32. It serves as the entrance to a small community hemmed in by Route 29, Route 32 and the Patuxent River.

What are the plans and schedule for the elimination of this light?

David W. Lawrence


This half-light exists only on southbound Route 29 to hold up traffic so drivers can cross southbound Route 29 and make a left turn onto northbound Route 29.

The state has no immediate plan to replace it, although officials are talking about how much it would cost. "It's such a minimal delay, and we have five major intersections in Montgomery County that are not funded," said Dave Buck, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

The other traffic lights on Route 29 in Howard County have been eliminated with recent overpass-underpass interchanges.

Those awaiting funding in Montgomery County include Fairland Road, Greencastle Road, Stewart Lane, Industrial Park Way/Tech Road and Blackburn Road. The state just a few weeks ago began work on a Route 29 interchange at Randolph Road/Cherry Hill Road (completion September 2004), with funding secured and a start next summer on an overpass-underpass interchange at Briggs Chaney Road (completion end of 2005).

That is a lot of interchange work and should eliminate many Route 29 traffic lights, from Route 650 outward.

Similar work is underway for the Route 5 corridor and the Route 210 corridor in Prince George's County.

Motorists can applaud the MSHA for these efforts.

No 'Operator'?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I also do not believe there is any "Smooth Operator Program" in place with our police forces. I travel five days a week from Charles County to Alexandria. Never have I seen any evidence of this program.

Barbara A. Homan


Not Changing Her Ways

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I recently read with interest comments made by other drivers concerning Beltway drivers and lack of law enforcement and was so happy to see I am not alone in my dismay.

I commute 10 miles on the Beltway between Andrews AFB and Alexandria every day and am amazed at the reckless, rude and uncivilized driving.

I hail from New York and have lived in Kentucky, North Carolina, Mississippi and Texas and have never seen such disregard for traffic laws.

If these drivers were in New York, trust me, they would be ticketed nonstop. Even during the worst rush hours in New York, speeding over 10 miles above the limit is hardly tolerated, to say nothing of 20 mph or greater.

I have seen law enforcement pull over a motorist on the Beltway just twice in the month I have lived here. People even speed on local roads where the speed limit is 35 mph or less, and, boy, do you get hand gestures if you drive at that speed.

The other day, I was actually gestured at several times by a very irate lady behind me because I made full stops at two stop signs.

Well, I have a message to send out to all Marylanders and Virginians: Read my lips, I refuse to speed, so if you want to kill yourselves, go for it . . . just leave me alone. And I will continue to stop at stop signs, signal before I change lanes, slow down when the light turns yellow, stop for pedestrians crossing and countless other laws that the great State of New York's Department of Motor Vehicles taught me so many years ago.

Rosanne Visco


Time for Resolutions As the year draws to a close, I am once again accepting your New Year's resolutions for local transportation officials and commuters.

Here are some examples:

* Resolved, that D.C., Maryland and Virginia officials will more swiftly replace burned-out streetlights and step up ticket writing for those illegally parked during rush hour.

* Resolved, that motorists will allow one merge a day in front of them. If everyone did this, there would be a lot less stress on the roads.

I need your nominations fairly quickly. Thanks, and happy New Year!

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Sunday in the Metro section and Thursday in Prince George's 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.