We should not be surprised that the secretaries of transportation of Maryland and Virginia ignore both the alternatives that make more long-term sense as well as the enormous subsidies and environmental costs that their version of the new Wilson Bridge would engender [Close to Home, Sept. 19]. By the nature of their jobs and the circumstances of their appointments, they are required to make political and bureaucratic decisions, not seek optimum solutions to transportation problems.

Proof is in the 2020 Report for Northern Virginia, the Virginia Department of Transportation plan to spend $26.7 billion on roads and rail in the next 20 years. Despite these expenditures, the report concludes that congestion will be as bad or worse in 2020 than it is today.

Real solutions to congestion would involve comprehensive approaches to include changed planning, zoning and taxation regimes to encourage the creation of walkable communities near Metro stations; zero spending on developers' roads such as the western transportation corridor and shifting funds to maintenance and improvements such as interchanges, signalization and enhancement of visibility.

For any real change to occur, voters must recognize the core problem: the combination of politics, the building industry and the bureaucracy. As long as the average voter accepts the fallacy that building more lanes will solve gridlock, politicians will get away with rewarding their financial backers by funding multibillion-dollar road building plans. And if that makes the problem worse (and it will), then, of course, build more roads.


Bealeton, Va.

The writer is a member of the Piedmont Environmental Council.