Just when I figured I'd gotten a solid grasp on the fundamentals of Capital Beltway interchanges, along comes "In Fairfax, Gearing Up for a Beltway Battle" [Metro, June 13] and shreds my confidence into tatters. Here's the confidence-shatterer:

"The highway engineers designing the wider Beltway and its interchanges say it's necessary to correct past mistakes. There are no ramps, for instance, to take outer-loop Beltway traffic to east-bound I-66."

Unless I've been experiencing a particularly vivid mirage over the years while driving on the outer loop of I-495 between Exits 11 and 13, there actually is an exit leading from the outer loop of the Beltway to I-66 eastbound.

I fervently hope the unidentified "highway engineers" are more attentive to detail than the article seems to imply.



Alexandrians coping with the pressures generated by the expanded Wilson Bridge project sympathize with Fairfax citizens concerned about Beltway expansion. The two matters are inseparable. Beltway planning encompasses everything that moves on four or more wheels in this area.

It is becoming agonizingly clear that the planners are moving ahead without the support and understanding of the citizens about how lives will be affected by the super highway monsters that are being designed for their use. What has been termed the "mixing bowl" interchange has become more like a food processor. Traffic will be piled on top of traffic as the centripetal force of converging vehicles takes over.

The Virginia Department of Transportation and other planning groups need to look at a broader landscape in figuring their road systems into the next century. The current Beltway is merely burning us out in transportation terms by pouring more and more traffic into the cauldron. Why can't they look beyond the current inner and outer loops into the horizon of circumferential systems that will treat the Washington-Baltimore-Richmond area as an integral whole for master transportation planning? Soon the area will be filled in with business and housing that will compel new transportation facilities. Why not do it right for a change?