Longtime Vienna Mayor Charles Robinson's attempt to blame all of Northern Virginia's transportation problems on developers {Close to Home, Sept. 13} unfortunately is typical of the position of too many public officials who have ignored for many years planners' recommendations to improve roads. They are now hearing the same message from their constituents and are desperately trying to point fingers elsewhere.

The failure of local governments to provide leadership and resources to build and improve Northern Virginia's roads is well documented.

In the 1960s, state and local planners proposed comprehensive road and transit networks for Northern Virginia. These plans included a four-lane Vienna Loop intended to provide "relief for Maple Avenue (Rte. 123) as it passes through town" and a Virginia expressway that would have allowed commuters direct access to the Vienna Metro station without using town streets.

Unfortunately, these plans were rejected by residents and local officials. The roads were never built.

Recently, a study of Fairfax County's 1975 master plan revealed that of the 600 miles of road improvements called for in the plan, only 21 percent have been completed as of August. In other words, nearly 8 out of 10 miles of new or improved roads deemed necessary 12 years ago have never been built.

Government delays in meeting our transportation needs have been costly. In 1969, the estimated cost of building a comprehensive transportation network for Northern Virginia was $1.1 billion. Today that cost is $3.5 billion and excludes most of the regional highways proposed in the 1960s.

Under Gov. Baliles' leadership and that of the General Assembly, transportation funding has been increased. New bonding authority for local governments and special transportation tax districts also have increased significantly the resources available to solve transportation problems. And since 1975, the Northern Virginia business community has contributed more than $200 million in major road improvements.

But much more needs to be done.

No one subscribes to the theory, as Robinson contends, that Northern Virginia's economic prosperity depends on unlimited, unregulated high-density development. However, continued economic prosperity in this region does depend upon greater commitment on the part of our elected officials to improve transportation. If Robinson believes transportation is a red herring, he should tell this to the residents of his community who cannot travel freely on their own streets because proposed road improvements were never made.

We have two choices: to continue to point fingers and refuse to accept responsibility; or to work together, public and private sector, to take advantage of existing and potential resources to build the transportation system the people of Northern Virginia need and deserve. -- Robert C. Wilcox is president of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association.