Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I read your recent online chat and thought that it seemed strange that folks were so upset about the price of gas in this country. It would make me very happy if you could point out that the prices people in other countries pay are much higher than what Americans pay.

In most of the world outside the United States, people pay much more for gasoline, largely because of much larger government taxes, which amount to about $3 to $4 per gallon in many European countries.

As of the end of May, here were some comparative prices:

* Amsterdam, $6.48.

* Oslo, $6.27.

* Milan, $5.96.

* Copenhagen, $5.93.

I got that data from this link:

Really, Americans should be thankful that their government doesn't tax gas as much as other countries do. Overseas, gas consumption is considered a luxury, not an inalienable right.

Jennifer Hamilton


We're 50 cents higher now, and with the rising price of oil and the catastrophe brought on by Hurricane Katrina, we might be headed for these European prices. Meanwhile, anyone have experiences with alternative fuels?

Bedeviled by Beltway 'Exit'

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

What sense does it make to construct an Arena Drive exit on the Capital Beltway, only to keep it closed most days, except during "special events" and football games at FedEx Field?

This exit could provide much-needed direct access to the newly opened Boulevard at the Capital Centre, as well as other shops and businesses in Largo.

Instead, one must drive past the Capital Centre to another exit, at either Landover Road or Central Avenue, and work one's way back.

Maurice Davenport

Upper Marlboro

The Federal Highway Administration would not allow Arena Drive to be used full time because it was too close to adjacent Beltway exits. That would cause too much lane weaving in a short distance.

The Maryland State Highway Administration, however, has lined up funding to construct parallel access roads on the Beltway, meaning Arena Drive can be open full time. This project is to begin next year or 2007, with completion in 2009.

Calling for Parking Response

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Could you please e-mail me with the phone numbers for complaining about illegal parking on 20th Street NW during rush hour?

I guess I'll just start bugging people every day. As long as I'm being inconvenienced and my time is being wasted every day, those who could prevent the delays might as well feel the same thing.

Tim Lawrence


Call the mayor's command center at 202-727-1000.

A Pit Stop for Pork

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

About your column in The Post on Aug. 14: This comfort-food suggestion is for those travelers who are going farther south than the Richmond-Petersburg area on Interstate 95. Having made several trips to South Carolina and Florida in the past few years, I've come across a welcome spot that can satisfy a variety of tastes, both for day's end dining and midday meals.

It is a nice, large restaurant in Roanoke Rapids/Weldon, N.C., named Ralph's Barbecue.

For about $8, it offers Carolina barbecue, pulled pork, chicken, fried fish, mashed potatoes, greens, salads, beans, baked beans and lots of dessert.

The fried chicken is great, but during weekdays it is offered only in the evenings.

Take Exit 173 and head east toward Weldon to a half-mile on your left. I've timed my trips south so I can get there for lunch.

Donn Andre


I've been there. And it is a buffet, meaning restless kids don't have to wait.

Fuel for Thought

To check for the lowest gas prices in the area, visit

Do you have any favorite Web sites for checking gas prices?

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.