The Council of Governments's report on Beltway congestion provided insight into our area's ranking as "the second worst in the country behind the Los Angeles area" [front page, Dec. 16]. Almost all the roads in our area are rapidly becoming unsafe, pollution-spouting and temper-fueling parking lots during cyclical peak hours of operation.
While the study's focus on major transportation arteries is merited, it is incomplete because it does not include data on drivers who seek speedy detours through residential neighborhoods. Many of these roads are without sidewalks, divisional markings or curb markings, and hazardous parking violations abound. Neighborhood traffic growth also has other contributory causes, including:
Concentrations of high-density housing (with more vehicles).
Redistricting of student populations, resulting in busing and improperly parked, visibility-restricting vehicles (minivans and SUVs), used for the transportation of outside-community students.
Home-based commercial enterprises with attendant servicing traffic.
The metropolitan area's transportation problem is a complex one centered largely around difficulties presented by the Potomac River. A Dec. 23 editorial noted that for decades studies called for multiple new river crossings. As does the editorial, I wonder what happened to the integrated transportation planning that would have included funding of studies of alternative river crossings.
With an integrated 21st-century traffic-management plan (using the Global Positioning System and computer-routing), smaller highways will be better able to carry higher volumes of traffic safely. With an integrated system, the proposed enlargement of the Wilson Bridge -- with all its attendant financial, social and environmental costs -- might be unnecessary. If the enlargement proceeds, all future plans would have to accommodate the bridge.
Congress has not authorized additional money for this nearly $2 billion misplaced road. I hope that before the citizens of Virginia and Maryland are stuck with helping to fund this project we get a regional transportation plan that integrates all Potomac crossings.
ROBERT HOLLAND JR.