Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Do you know when Montgomery County will begin work on the Randolph Road/Georgia Avenue interchange (running Randolph under Georgia)?

Moira Ratchford

Silver Spring

That would be a state project. The state handles the major routes identified by numbers, such as Route 97 (Georgia Avenue).

I'm afraid I have bad news. There is no funding for construction of that project, according to Chuck Gischlar, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

What you can do is lobby your Montgomery County Council and County Executive Douglas M. Duncan -- in person, by phone or by letter -- to place this project at the top of the county's annual wish list for state action.

That wish list helps the state prioritize projects within counties. Good luck!

Rules for the Road

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

For years I have thought that this area needs a public service campaign to remind people how to drive.

We were all taught basic rules of the road, and some may have slipped from our focus. Perhaps some of the new drivers coming to the Washington area are not aware of the local rules. And, of course, some people just don't care that their poor driving habits are annoying and dangerous.

Maybe local transportation authorities could produce radio and TV commercials, print ads and signs that remind everyone of basic driving rules, such as slower cars keep right; left lane is for higher speeds or passing; use turn signals; don't tailgate; don't stop in intersections; and slow down in bad weather.

Those are rules that are regularly broken, but the situation might easily be improved if people received an in-your-face reminder!

Eric Wenocur

Silver Spring

Good idea.

'A Ridiculous Project'

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I live off Dale Drive in Silver Spring. In July and August, road crews came in and scored the surface of Dale Drive between Piney Branch Road and Georgia Avenue. They then "tarred and chipped" (spread hot tar and threw loose gravel on top) the section of road.

I thought it was a ridiculous project on a road that is heavily traveled, a snow emergency route. But, hey, they know what they're doing, right?

Well, lo and behold, the crews returned in the middle of September to the same area on Dale Drive and re-scored the road. I can't tell what the next step is; there is no indication of future work.

Why should the taxpayers pay for double work? And I'd love to know how much the first "upgrade" cost us. What they should have done was just repave the entire road from Piney Branch to Georgia, but that would make too much sense.

If you can find out anything that would help me understand why our road must be in a constant state of disrepair, I would be most grateful.

Toni Wilson

Silver Spring

That's a lot of questions in one e-mail!

Roads have to be repaired at different times because they wear out at different times. They couldn't all be done at once because you couldn't efficiently manage a workforce that was alternately in overdrive or idly awaiting the next massive overhaul.

Your situation sounds intriguing. This one is probably a county, not a state, project. It has taken me weeks to try to get the Montgomery County Department of Public Works and Transportation to answer your questions. I've given up on them. I suspect you'd have better luck with your question by calling Thomas D. Pogue, that department's community outreach manager, at 240-777-7170, or writing to him at 101 Monroe St., 10th Floor, Rockville, Md. 20850-2540.

D.C. Traffic Enforcement

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Having read recently about the ineffectiveness of the District's red-light cameras, I am wondering how long it will take the city to realize it is speeding that is the problem.

It seems that the police have completely given up on controlling speed in this city. Traveling 20 mph or more over speed limits in the city appears to be common practice and is the real danger on our streets.

Is policing speeders just an impossible task?

Bill London


Apparently it is an impossible task, considering the extent of the city's traffic enforcement. Do you know how many officers the D.C. police assign to traffic patrol in the downtown commercial center? Zero. They could be methodically enforcing traffic laws, such as speeding and intersection blocking, but they are not.

The Department of Public Works handles the parking control aides who write most of the parking tickets, but they do not issue tickets for moving violations. The two dozen traffic control aides who are posted at downtown intersections also work for the Department of Public Works and also do not write tickets for moving violations.

District police do have a dozen or so fixed speed cameras and mobile cameras in cruisers to cite violators. Those cameras record license plate numbers, and police issue citations by mail. And the city has about 50 cameras at intersections to catch red-light runners.

Is that effort enough? If you drive in the city, you know the answer.

Signing Up for E-ZPass

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

How, with a District-registered vehicle, can I sign up for E-ZPass to use at Interstate 95 toll gates en route to New Hampshire? I know there are a few exceptions where cash payment must be made. But automatic payment at the majority of tolls would be a big help.

Any information you can offer to point me in the right direction would be appreciated. I am leaving again on a trip in a few weeks.

Patricia J. Kelliher


Sign up with the Maryland Transportation Authority. You don't have to be a Maryland resident. Log on to or call 888-321-6824.

Maryland does not charge the $1-a-month administrative fee that some other states charge for E-ZPass.

E-ZPass, whose small electronic device is mounted in your vehicle and registers and deducts tolls from your prepaid deposit, has proved popular among motorists.

1-Plate and 2-Plate States

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

There's another reason you might see front license plates "missing" from cars in Maryland, as distinguished from Maryland-registered cars, which must have both front and back plates [Dr. Gridlock, Sept. 29].

The Washington-Baltimore area has a lot of active-duty military servicemen and women and their families stationed here and in neighboring Virginia. Under the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act, active-duty service members may keep their cars registered in their home states.

So if you don't see a front tag on a car in Maryland, glance at the rear plate before you get all excited. It may simply be a member of the military (or a visitor) from one of those rear-tag-only states!

Bill Santiff


Twenty-one states do not issue front tags: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, according to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

Pride in Prince George's

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In response to the letter from John Binford of Silver Spring [Dr. Gridlock, Sept. 29] knocking Prince George's County, I feel that Binford was very offensive to Prince George's residents.

I have lived in Prince George's County for 20 years and have worked in Montgomery County for the same length of time.

While I have worked in Montgomery County, my vehicle has been broken into while parked in one of the public parking garages, and I have been in an accident with a hit-and-run driver.

I live in one of the many beautiful areas of Prince George's, and I never could have gotten as nice a home for the price in Montgomery County.

I just want to say that no location is completely safe and to thank you for suggesting that your e-mail couple -- one works in Annapolis and one in Manassas -- consider living in Prince George's County.

Beverly Lanham


Such community pride is an important element in one's quality of life. It's good to hear. Thanks for writing.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Thursdays in the Extra and Sundays in the Metro section. You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers.