Route 7 Needs

Bicycle Bridge, Too

In addition to improved pedestrian routes within Tysons Corner, there is a crying need for pedestrian and bicycle access across the Capital Beltway at or near Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) ["Exploring Inroads for Tysons Foot Traffic," Page A1, June 23].

This would make it possible to walk and bike between Tysons and the Falls Church/McLean residential and shopping areas, including the West Falls Church Metro stop.

Because of the entry and exit ramps streaming into Route 7, it is impossible to cross the Beltway on foot or bike at that point without taking one's life in one's hands. There are no alternative crossings for at least a mile in each direction. Usable bus service along Route 7 is next to nonexistent.

The ideal solution is a bicycle bridge like those on Interstate 395 at Shirlington and Interstate 95 near the Springfield Metro station. Failing that, improved sidewalks with push-button lights along at least one side of Route 7 would make this bottleneck passable for non-drivers.

William McLeese

Falls Church

MetroWest Traffic

Would Burden Area

Lisa Rein reports that the new Fairlee-MetroWest development will generate 1,356 new trips during the typical rush hour ["Mini-City Plan Discourages Use of Cars," Metro, June 22].

I would like to clarify that this figure is the projected per-hour trip generation during the rush hour period, which around here is just about all day. The reason neighboring citizens are critical of the project is because even if a 47 percent trip reduction can be enforced, it will still mean some 8,000 car trips to and from the development per day.

Also, the traffic study showed that actual trip generation from the surrounding neighborhoods is about 20 percent higher than they predicted. It certainly makes me skeptical that they will be able to lower traffic 47 percent below their projections.

Deborah Smith


Labeling of Candidates

Should Cut Both Ways

Why is it that The Post, in its editorial and news pages, uses terms like "unabashedly liberal" ["In Virginia, the Race Is On," Editorial, June 17] to describe Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Leslie L. Byrne, yet your newspaper never uses words like "extremist" or ultra-conservative" to describe her GOP opponent, William Bolling?

I am not concerned about the charges leveled by the Republican message machine against Byrne and the other Virginia Democratic candidates in your paper. I understand that such quotes are fair game for reporters. Heaven knows that the Republicans are experts at spewing venom at Democrats -- and at themselves. We saw that in the divisive and nasty rhetoric between the two GOP lieutenant governor candidates during the primary campaign.

However, I am concerned about the labels that your editorial writers and reporters affix without attribution to Byrne, while you bestow no such tags on Bolling to describe his far-right positions.

If Byrne's long record of effectiveness and her positions in support of decent education for all Virginians, in support of clean air and clean water, in support of improved health care and prescription drug prices for our citizens are "liberal" positions, then most citizens of the Commonwealth, including me, should also be called liberals.

In contrast, Bolling's votes in the Senate against education, public safety and common-sense governing earn him no moniker, even though Bolling's positions are far to the right of those held by mainstream Virginia Democrats, independents and Republicans.

The Democratic lieutenant governor candidates ran a clean, polite and issue-oriented primary campaign, in sharp contrast to the intense mud-slinging and name-calling between Bolling and Sean Connaughton. Unfortunately, Bolling will now use the same kind of fear-mongering and hate-filled rhetoric against Byrne. He will use sleight of hand to try to divert the attention of Virginia voters (and The Post) away from the critical issues facing our Commonwealth and, instead, try to move the focus to God, guns and gays.

You owe it to your Virginia readers to look closely at the positions of both Byrne and Bolling, rather than perpetuate meaningless slogans that fail to define either of these candidates.

George Burke


11th Congressional District Democratic Committee

Falls Church

School Study Story

Has Another Side

I am writing in response to the guest column by the West Springfield Pyramid Solutions Coalition ["Coalition to Fight Until School Board Reconsiders Study," Fairfax Extra, June 16].

The writers failed to fully explain the study being conducted of West Springfield High School, Lee High School, Lake Braddock Secondary School, Irving Middle School and Key Middle School. Without the other side of the story, I'm afraid your readers will not see the importance of this story or understand the controversy.

Currently, the student population of Fairfax County is fairly static. The only problem is that the growth areas where students are located have shifted. The Lorton and Centreville areas are growing while other areas have even lost students. When new schools open, such as South County High School in September, or renovations such as those at Lake Braddock are completed, it becomes necessary to conduct studies on the current boundaries and make adjustments. The problem lies not with having these studies, as Kevin Brown and Thomas Bognanno of the West Springfield Pyramid Solutions Coalition suggest. The problem is that the school board has no criteria for deciding what is important when deciding on boundaries and does not have to comply with any recommendation from a boundary study.

Fairfax County residents should think about the problems caused by having no criteria. Consider enrollment. Lee High School and West Springfield are both over capacity. Lake Braddock, on the other hand, is under capacity. Logically, that means some students need to be shifted from Key Middle School, Lee High School and West Springfield High School to Lake Braddock Secondary.

Should we consider other criteria, such as proximity to schools, general community affiliation, historical precedence, school clusters or school pyramids? What about demographics? The reasons our children should or should not attend a school can be endless.

Without this criteria, the findings from a study can be subject to whims and not fair. Isn't that part of the West Springfield Pyramid Solutions Coalition's complaint, that how the South Hunt area was added to the West Springfield High School boundary was unfair?

The greater problem than having no criteria is the fact that the school board does not have to go with staff recommendations or the study. This is what happened with the South Hunt area.

It was first recommended that this area should attend the new South County High School. The next study recommended that this area attend Lake Braddock. The school board then decided to place the South Hunt Valley in West Springfield High School.

I am not going to debate the merits of this move, but the lesson for everyone involved in this new study should be, watch out. No matter what the study finds, boundaries will be decided by the school board, and in turn, politics.

Because of politics, my neighborhood of Daventry has already become a battleground of this new study. In general, West Springfield High School parents do not want any of the boundaries to change. This means no study and keeping the school from adding or subtracting any areas.

Daventry area students currently attend Lee High School. Since the community was formed in the 1980s, its assignment to Lee High School has created controversy. Most residents have all their social ties to the West Springfield area (shopping, religious services, youth sports, etc.) The creek behind my house divides Zip codes, voting districts and county districts, school clusters and school boundaries, except this one. Daventry is the only area with students who attend Irving Junior High who do not go on to attend West Springfield High School. Daventry is isolated in this manner.

Daventry is also isolated because, relatively speaking, it is small. My school board representative, Catherine A. Belter, has no incentive to represent Daventry. Ms. Belter can get many more votes by keeping the boundary of West Springfield High School exactly the same. She represents probably fewer than 100 students at Lee High School but the whole area of West Springfield High School. There is no political incentive to do what is recommended or fair. There is no political incentive for any of the other board members to follow the recommendations either, because for the most part, it doesn't concern their districts.

I am not afraid of this study. I am not even afraid of my children attending Lee High School, although it seems illogical.

I am afraid of being disenfranchised. I'm afraid no matter what the study finds is in the best interest of all the county's children, special interest groups set up to promote only their children's interests will create this piecemeal community-against-community system that is inherently unfair. This is the reason that those people living in the Westfield, South Lakes, Centreville and the rest of the county need to pay attention.

If redistricting is always going to be solely about politics, it would be in their best interest not to be naive and start knocking on doors, writing letters, raising money and using all means necessary, just as the West Springfield Pyramid Solutions Coalition is doing now.

Julie Melear