VIRGINIA'S NONSTOP grand marshal of rush-hour traffic -- Rep. Frank Wolf -- is back with yet another plan to ease traffic bottlenecks on the George Washington Memorial Parkway between Spout Run and Theodore Roosevelt Bridge. And unlike his last two proposals, this one is acceptable. Gone is Mr. Wolf's previous proposal for an additional lane on the parkway, which would have wrecked for good the last spectacular gateway to the capital. The National Park Service, which all along has had some sensible ideas for helping traffic without spoiling the parkway, is satisfied with the latest agreement; and the proposal should bring a little joy into the rush-hour lives of the motoring public out there.
This is big progress: that 1.6-mile strip has been a subject of debate for a good 30 years. It has never been a beltway or a turnpike, nor should it ever be. But with the agreed improvements, some of the most common tie-ups at key entrances and exits just might subside. Ramps and exit lanes would be widened and roads would be repaved with special asphalt to reduce skidding in wet weather.
The park service also supports Mr. Wolf's proposal for an additional inbound lane on the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge to improve access from the parkway to the District of Columbia. It's hard to see how this building of a bigger funnel into the same bottleneck will help much; traffic still has to squeeze onto the same city streets on the other D.C. side. But if another lane for stacking traffic every morning makes more motorists happy, so be it.
In the meantime, we're all seeing changing regional commuting patterns, additional Metro subway service and various pooling efforts that could make differences in the future volume of traffic along the parkway. The modifications worked out by the Park Service and Mr. Wolf represent a solid effort to assist today's motorists while preserving the character of the parkway -- and they should proceed.