Why the uproar over paying for new road projects ["Gilmore Backs General Fund for Roads," front page, Aug. 31; "Gilmore Proposes Widening I-66, Adding Rail Lines," front page, Sept. 1]? The true cost of roads is not in their construction but in their maintenance, including police salaries, the costs of licensing, road and street repair, and snow removal.
The continuing costs include the multibillion-dollar budgets of the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, which certify and confront problems of safety, pollution and refuse disposal. These costs are appropriately met through a substantial increase in the federal gasoline tax. This country's gasoline is taxed far below that of all other developed countries.
Regretably, Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore's proposal for rail service to Tysons Corner and Dulles Airport is predicated on widening I-66 and building yet more roads. The debate over transportation funding must be put into context: "Transportation" means more road building and "improvements" with more extensive parking, and then perhaps a rail line extension involving cumbersome transfers and costly fares.
To say that the gasoline trust fund pays for the roads is akin to a man defending himself in a paternity suit. He should be vindicated because, after all, he paid for the obstetrician!
In his proposal for new transportation spending, Gov. Gilmore did not once use the word pedestrian. It is scandalous the way the Commonwealth of Virginia continues to neglect its basic pedestrian infrastructure.
In Maryland, every state road project in populated areas (other than limited access highways) automatically includes sidewalks. Virginia continues to build roads with no sidewalks. Virginia also lags in retrofitting sidewalks along existing roads. How does Gov. Gilmore propose to improve conditions for the 5.4 percent of all trips that are walking trips?
JOHN Z. WETMORE