The Virginia Department of Transportation's contention that thousands of commuters are making a horseshoe-shaped commute between the western suburbs of Virginia and Maryland is simply not true [Metro, May 11; editorial, June 2]. VDOT's own data show that at most, 2,000 of the 24,679 commuters are making a horseshoe commute.

Just 342 Virginians from the entire Dulles corridor -- Routes 7, 28 and 7100 (the Fairfax County Parkway), Interstate 66 and even Route 15 -- travel across the American Legion Bridge and up to Gaithersburg. At most, 1,637 Marylanders travel from the entire Interstate 270 corridor to the I-66 corridor and the Dulles corridor beyond Tysons Corner.

VDOT and its consultant also confused "westbound" commuters with horseshoe commuters. Most westbound commuters come from communities near or inside the Beltway or stop at offices directly adjacent to the Beltway in Tysons Corner and North Bethesda. These commuters do not need and would not benefit from a new bridge 10 or more miles beyond the Beltway. They are not horseshoe commuters.

Rather than a new bridge, which would serve very few commuters, the study argues for investments to directly benefit commuters crossing the American Legion Bridge. These could include creating Purple Line Metrorail service between Tysons Corner and Bethesda-North Bethesda and imposing variable tolls on existing Beltway lanes to encourage carpooling and alternate commute times.

STEWART SCHWARTZ

Executive Director

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Washington