RANSPORTATION Secretary Elizabeth Dole
seems determined to listen and react well to longstanding concerns in this national capital area that have plagued and defied previous administrations. Fresh from delivering a reprieve for Union Station, Mrs. Dole is reviewing another issue of widespread local concern: airport policy, and a way to strike a better balance between the uses of National and Dulles International. The proposal under consideration would not affect a single flight now in operation at National, but it would encourage better future uses of Dulles.
The proposal--for an annual use limit of 15 million passengers at National--is a logical followup to an important earlier airport agreement achieved by Mrs. Dole's predecessor, Drew Lewis, after long and delicate negotiations between Congress, the airlines and civic groups. Though some airlines routinely object to even the slightest attempt to bring some sound order to airport use in this region, this proposed cap is not even a reduction in the use of National. At last count, about 13.3 million people were using National each year. The only change would be a drop of the current unmet cap of 16 million.
Support for this revised passenger cap at National is strong and bipartisan, championed vigorously and well by Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf, who has coordinated other transportation improvements with Mr. Lewis and Mrs. Dole. Earlier this month, Mrs. Dole endorsed a proposal to expand commuter use of the Dulles access highway pending completion of the Dulles toll roads. This Wolf plan would allow two-person car pools during rush hours and certain other easing of travel by low-occupancy two-car vehicles; up to now, the minimum has been a four-person car pool. (I-66 could stand some relief, too, and Mr. Wolf has set a public hearing on this for next month. While we're at it, how about Virginia loosening the restrictions a bit on Shirley Highway?).
By addressing these various transportation issues early and simultaneously, as Secretary Dole has been doing, a sensible and workable policy could finally come into being--both in the air and on the ground.