Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The storm drains on the American Legion Bridge have turned into a weird form of Chia Pet. They are sprouting weeds, flowers, grasses and more. This causes water buildup on the bridge and its approaches every time we get torrential downpours.

What is with the people whose job it is to take care of things like this?

David H. Lipsey


Looks like the Maryland State Highway Administration could be doing a better job. Based on your inquiry, workers are going out there to clean out the bridge drains. Work should be completed by the end of the month.

More on 'Feeling Threatened'

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

As an African American female who rides Metro buses and trains frequently, I feel compelled to respond to "Feeling Threatened on 16J," the bus passenger who was concerned about loud behavior and the bus driver's failure to act [Dr. Gridlock, Aug. 7].

While I understand the onus is on the drivers to maintain control of their bus, no one seems to understand that calling police or saying something to unruly individuals puts the drivers at great risk.

I have been in a similar situation in the Capitol Heights area where the driver did call Metro police to have some unruly people removed from her bus. While waiting for the officers, she was verbally attacked.

It took at least 15 minutes for the police to arrive. In that time, everyone on the bus could have been killed. The unruly passengers were put off the bus by Metro police, but after that the driver was on her own. The one thing I said to the driver at my destination was: "Watch your back; you know they could be waiting on your return."

Bus drivers are not trained as police officers and do not carry weapons. I know the hoodlums do!

I am sure while drivers may be paid well, they are not paid enough to put their lives on the line. Nor is it possible for Metro to put an officer on every bus.

We live in a metropolitan area where crime and violence are off the chart. As unfortunate as it seems, bus riders should expect to encounter ignorance, and should be prepared to deal with it, or take a taxi.

Laura Holmes


It is difficult to know how to react when you're riding with threatening passengers and the bus driver won't seek help. Please read on.

I was disheartened to read your reply to the Metrobus rider who was scared by two miscreants on the back of the bus. Moving closer to the driver [as recommended by a Metro spokesman] might be a good idea, but to suggest that someone not perform the natural human reaction of looking in the direction of a disturbance is unrealistic.

Additionally, if someone were to keep his back turned to a disturbance, he would have no warning should a physical threat become imminent. To suggest that someone should get off the bus in a strange neighborhood is equally unacceptable.

Once again our 21st-century sensibilities are to accommodate atrocious behavior and expect the average, well-mannered citizen to change his behavior.

It was interesting to note that the Metrobus rider mentioned terrorism. We are often reminded to carry on in the face of a terror threat and that if we change our behavior then the terrorists win.

Our citizens should not have to live in fear, be it from terrorism or disgusting behavior. You were right; the bus driver should have called the police.

James M. Reynolds


My first instinct when confronted by danger on mass transit is to get away. That probably means notifying the driver of the disturbance, and if a radio call for help is not made, getting off at the next stop (provided the miscreants stay aboard).

It probably helps not to make eye contact, but that's just a guess. Each case is different.

I'd like to hear from bus drivers about the kinds of things they've had to put up with and what they did about them, as well as operator advice for passengers who feel threatened.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers e-mails at or faxes at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.