- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Eagles get spacious sanctuary from Wilson Bridge construction

Readers of "Bay revival brings back bald eagles" (Metro, March 20) may be interested in the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Projects efforts to benefit our national symbol here in the nations capital.

On March 21, the project created a permanent 84-acre bald eagle sanctuary that will enable eagles and other wildlife to thrive in a natural setting. Just north of the bridge, the woodlands and set-aside river areas were previously owned by the Corrections Corporation of America and had been considered as a possible prison site. The sanctuary is more than eight times larger than was required by the Fish and Wildlife Service, underscoring the projects´ commitment to build the new facility in an environmentally friendly manner.

The presence of bald eagles near the 200,000 vehicles that travel the Capital Beltway each day suggests that they may have developed a higher tolerance for human activity. But to ensure that the eagles and other species are minimally affected during and after construction, a number of special protections are planned, including extensive tree preservation and seasonal restrictions on when construction work may take place.


JOHN UNDELAND

Public affairs director

Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project

Washington

Shame on Maryland police for lax treatment of bonfire instigators

The Maryland students who lit bonfires after Marylands Final Four loss to Duke broke the law ("Mayor outraged by fans behavior in College Park," Metro, April 2). Police in "soft" riot gear showed up to break up the crowd so that firefighters could put out the flames. When firefighters arrived, they "dodged beer bottles and other objects" as they tried to do their job. And the police sat by and watched? These lawbreakers were endangering themselves, firefighters, and property not to mention illegally stopping traffic and, as you report, the police made no arrests?

These kids were testing their limits, and the police failed to show them that any existed. Now they will think that they can start bonfires on the slightest whim. What will be the next limit they test?

Shame on the kids, and shame on the police for not protecting the firefighters and the community.


STEPHEN STARLING

Silver Spring

Columnist has naive view of soft money

Perhaps someone could pull Donald Lambros head out of the clouds. The rosy picture he paints of soft money ("Reform and consequences," Commentary, April 2) is grossly naive.

As Mr. Lambro describes, soft money is supposed to be used for party building activities and get-out-the-vote efforts, and it once was. Soft money has become, however, the means of influence for major corporations looking for breaks in legislation and relaxation of regulations.

Mr. Lambro suggests that, primarily, individual citizens are happily and nobly doling out money to the national parties. Yet even he admits that interest in national politics has declined. Soft money donors are large, powerful and wealthy corporations and groups looking to garner influence with the right politicians. This is not free speech.

They give equally, or at least with relative parity, to both Republicans and Democrats, not as an expression of their political beliefs, but to cover their bases on both sides of the aisle. This way, politicians from both parties are beholden to their respective interests.

Perhaps soft money does not have an overt effect on the political system. Even the appearance of impropriety, however, is damaging to our political system and more than enough reason to pass campaign finance reform legislation.


ANDREW STONE

Washington

Metro not the wild ride editorial contends

I read with interest your March 29 editorial "Metro derails Metro." I have been riding the Metrorail from Dunn Loring for two years, first to Rosslyn and now to the Pentagon. While the Metro system has its share of problems, I find your criticisms far different than what I have experienced. In addition, you attempt to pass off several generalizations as facts.

The editorial asserts that "Metro is not especially well-designed or pleasant to use." It goes on to criticize the expense of a week´s ride including parking "$25 to $30" and how "ne must typically drive a car to the train station partially obviating the whole point of using public transportation."

When the Metro system was built in the 1960s, its designers didn´t take into account that the Washington metropolitan area would grow as it has, and that Metrorail would need to expand with it. Many areas have developed extensively, making changes to Metrorail difficult. Traffic has also increased (both on the Metro and the highways) due to developers building homes and offices with little foresight or restraint.

Nonetheless, I find the cost of riding the Metro cheaper than driving to work. I spend about $40 a week on parking at the station and riding the Metro. If I were to drive to work, the daily cost of parking in a garage would be $8.50. Add the cost of gas, and my weekly costs would go up at least $20. Also, it would take me more than an hour to drive home vs. 40 minutes on the Metrorail. You state that other cities with rail services are cheaper but provide no evidence to prove it.

As for your complaint that one has to drive to a Metro station, the majority of Metro riders live in the suburbs and therefore must drive in. I´m not sure how else people could get to the stations.

Based on my experiences, your statements on Metro´s reliability are not accurate. Have trains I´ve ridden in been late in the past? Yes. The service has become much better, however, particularly with the addition of electronic signs that notify passengers when the next train will arrive and if there are any delays.

For the past several months, more often than not, the trains have arrived on time. If you drive on the Beltway, however, some allowances can be made for traffic (for example, you can expect backups at the Interstate 495/95 interchange and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge), but when an accident occurs, the resulting gridlock can set drivers back more than an hour.

I´m usually able to avoid rush hour, but from my limited experience with it, I admit that adding an extra car or two would help. The problem, however, also lies with the passengers. Sheep seem to have a better herding instinct than most Metro riders. If there is a large crowd of people, one of two things usually occur:

Riders on the train tightly pack themselves around the doors and don´t disperse into the aisle, wasting space that could be occupied by other passengers.

When the doors open on a packed train, riders who are going into the train usually don´t let any riders out first, and try to push their way in immediately. This causes a buildup of passengers on both sides, not to mention flaring tempers.

Your editorial states "Metro is at capacity only because the area´s population has exploded not because people find Metro so appealing to use." Yet, when Metro extended its hours on weekends, it proved to be extremely popular. If there are special events being held in downtown Washington, many people use Metro to avoid the resulting gridlock on some parts of the Beltway.

For these reasons, your editorial misses the mark. The Metro system, as imperfect as it is given the fiscal restraints and public demands, is working as well as it can.


DAN SWEET

Falls Church

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