Dear Dr. Gridlock:

At long last, the reconstruction of Route 450 through Bowie is nearly complete.

At Route 450 and Martha's Choice Circle, two streetlights were installed last year. Neither has ever been operational, but I assumed that would change when the construction on that section of Route 450 was complete.

The construction there was completed months ago, yet the lights continue to be dark. I have called the city, the county and the state, and no one will take responsibility for lighting that intersection. What is my next step?

Steven A. Gainey

Bowie

Consider it done. The Maryland State Highway Administration is finishing up electrical work in connection with the widening of Route 450 in that area, and workers have been asked to double-check those streetlights before they are done. Their work should be completed by the end of this year.

But we should also look at the broader picture: the widening of Route 450, a major east-west highway and alternative to Route 50 in Prince George's County.

The state and developers have converted Route 450 from a winding two-lane road to four lanes, divided, with turn lanes, from Whitfield Chapel Road in the Seabrook area to Stoneybrook Road near the Anne Arundel County line.

The state is designing the next segment of Route 450 widening, from Stoneybrook Road to Route 3. However, that 1.5-mile segment has yet to be funded.

E-ZPass Expands

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

For your information, the E-ZPass system has been enhanced. New Hampshire has been added to the system. This is particularly helpful when using the Everett Turnpike (Route 3) running north from Nashua.

Stu Newman

Bowie

Thanks for the update. There are now 11 states that accept the E-ZPass transponders, allowing for the electronic deduction of tolls and eliminating the need to stop and pay.

The states are: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Illinois.

To purchase a pass, log on to www.ezpassmd.com.

Metro Parking Schedule

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Recently, at the GALA Hispanic Theatre at the Tivoli, I talked with friends about Metro parking fees. We all had taken Metro to the theater.

My local Metro is the New Carrollton station and, according to the lot attendant, parking fees are collected until midnight.

My friends said that at their local station (I think it is Silver Spring), fee collecting stops at 7 p.m.

I am writing to find out if there is a discrepancy in the times that stations collect parking fees. Before the Farecard payment system, New Carrollton stopped collecting at 10:30 p.m.

Gretchen Dunn

New Carrollton

Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel says the Metro parking lot at New Carrollton is staffed from 9 a.m. to midnight Mondays through Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays. Parking is free on the weekends.

Metro does not operate any parking facilities at the Silver Spring station, he said. Your friend could be using a county lot, or a private one, in the vicinity.

A Cure for Road Rage?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The biggest cure for many incidents of road rage would be to enact laws that require drivers to keep right except to pass.

Many of the road rage incidents start when a motorist in the left lane gets stuck behind a slower driver and wants to pass.

Instead of moving right, the slower vehicle "enforces the speed limit" and stays put. Eventually, the second driver must either pass on the right or make some other unsafe move to get around the slower driver. If the passing driver is then involved in an accident, it's that person's fault, not the slower driver who was actually responsible for it.

While I'm not condoning tailgating or aggressive driving, having an enforceable keep-right-except-to-pass law would immeasurably improve travel on our highways.

Mike Ahearn

Crofton

New Jersey and Connecticut have laws requiring drivers to keep right except to pass. I wonder how motorists there feel about those laws?

Here, Virginia does have a law requiring motorists in the left lane to move right if an overtaking vehicle signals its intent to pass by flashing lights or sounding the horn.

With so many traffic violations unenforced here -- HOV violations, speeding, reckless driving, 100 mph motorcyclists -- I wonder if this would be one more law that would not be enforced, and hence one more source of frustration for law-abiding motorists.

Doing the Math

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

You have observed that some states charge a monthly fee for E-ZPass and Maryland does not, suggesting that Maryland is the better choice.

There seems to be some question, however, whether drivers in the Maryland plan benefit from the discounted tolls that E-ZPass users get in some other states, such as New Jersey and New York.

If Maryland users don't get those discounts and travel regularly in those states, the "no-fee" Maryland plan can become a loser in just one or two trips. Can you clarify that point?

A related aside: Delaware recently raised its fees on Interstate 95 to $3 and eliminated the discount previously granted E-ZPass users.

Wallace Fullerton

Kensington

The E-ZPass system is interchangeable in the 11 states that belong to the consortium, including Maryland and Virginia. E-ZPass is useful to pass through toll gates in those states without having to stop. However, to use an additional discount plan in any state, you need to have signed up for an E-ZPass with that state.

For instance, Maryland offers three E-ZPass discount plans for frequent users of three facilities: (a) the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, (b) the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial (Route 301) Bridge and (c) the Baltimore area toll facilities. You can add those discount plans to your Maryland E-ZPass account and have the fares deducted automatically, or you can pay in advance for the discount plans in cash.

But if you have an E-ZPass account in Virginia, let's say, you would not be able to use those additional discount plans in Maryland.

Maryland does not charge a $1-a-month administrative fee to join E-ZPass. Some states do charge such a fee. That is why Dr. Gridlock suggests signing up with Maryland. To do so, or for additional information about E-ZPass, log on to www.ezpassmd.com.

The basic E-ZPass is mainly for convenience and not discount savings, Mr. Fullerton. You'll have to add up the discounts you would lose in other states to determine whether a $1-a-month savings in Maryland makes sense for you.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Thursday in The Extra and Sunday 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 drgridlock@washpost.com, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers.