Virginia state leaders need to wake up and smell the coffee. Why are they going to approve a project that is going to cost billions of tax dollars just to serve the corporations near Dulles ["Va. Board Approves $4 Billion Dulles Rail," front page, Dec. 20]?

Instead, a third of that money should go toward finishing the HOV lanes on Interstate 95 to Fredericksburg. Another third could be spent on reflective markers so that drivers can see the road in bad weather.

But we are talking about the same Virginia that is spending millions on rest areas ["Strapped VDOT Is Criticized for Lavish Rest Stop," Metro, Dec. 22].

I agree that the rest areas need to be fixed, and when I travel, I do take my laptop. But I am not going to stop at a rest stop just to get on the Internet. I'm going to use the bathroom and walk my dog.

Instead of putting the Internet in the rest stops, what about putting in a gas station? The state could rent the space and make some money, too.




Maryland Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s victory resulted in part from his campaign promise to get commuters moving again. But his administration will deliver on that promise only if it can disabuse the state's Department of Transportation of Parris Glendening's dogmatic commitment to hyper-expensive and ineffective rail transit.

Maryland plans to spend about 50 percent of its transportation money on transit. That would be fine if transit represented 50 percent of travel in the state. It might even be fine if ridership might someday reach 50 percent. But that is a pipe dream.

Transit represents less than 2 percent of travel in Maryland. That means that for every mile of travel the state spends 50 times as much on transit as on highways -- and that's after the billions of dollars spent on infrastructure for the Washington area Metro, MARC rail and the Baltimore subway and light rail. Despite all that spending, 2000 Census data indicate that transit's share of work trips in Baltimore and Washington has declined.

While those cities were building their rail systems, 99 percent of new travel in Maryland was by personal vehicle. Roadway expansion did not keep up. Unless transportation money is spent in a way that benefits all Marylanders, Maryland's gridlocked roads will grow worse.


Belleville, Ill.

The writer is an adjunct scholar at the Maryland Public Policy Institute.