- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2001

Highway construction is only cure for D.C. gridlock

The Washington Times reports that Washington's rush hour could "stretch to 14 hours a day by 2020" if roadways aren't expanded to reduce traffic congestion ("As gridlock looms, solutions are elusive," Metropolitan, Dec. 4).

Indeed, gridlock is becoming a serious problem, causing needless delays, wasted fuel, lost productivity and high levels of frustration. In the Washington area, transportation planners had 14 major road-construction projects on the drawing board in the 1960s, but only one of them Interstate 66 has been built.

While transit lines, including the proposed Purple Line, can offer a transportation alternative to some commuters, they cannot absorb the growing demand for travel. Since 1970, America's population has increased 32 percent, the number of drivers has risen 63 percent, the number of vehicles has climbed 90 percent, and the vehicle miles traveled have soared 132 percent. At the same time, however, roadway miles have increased only 6 percent. Clearly, road improvements, more lanes and more roadways are needed to reduce congestion and fix bottlenecks.

Reducing bottlenecks not only alleviates traffic congestion, it also improves roadway safety, the environment and motorists' quality of life. A study conducted for the American Highway Users Alliance found that fixing the nation's 167 worst bottlenecks over the next 20 years could prevent more than 287,000 crashes, save nearly 1,200 lives, sharply reduce pollution and save commuters almost 40 minutes each day.

This same study identified the Interstate 495/Interstate 270 interchange as the fifth-worst bottleneck in the country. It's estimated that traffic levels at this interchange will nearly double by 2020, vastly increasing travel time. With an upstream Potomac crossing or other roadway improvements, commuters who typically negotiate the interchange twice a day could shave more than an hour off their daily commuting time.

Local transportation planners are making necessary improvements at the Mixing Bowl, but they must take steps to relieve traffic congestion and improve safety at other locations, too. Commuters also would be well-served if local officials would work with Congress to streamline the highway construction review process. It takes about 12 years to move a major highway project through the planning, design and right-of-way acquisition process. Typically, up to five years is spent on the environmental review process alone.

Addressing the Washington area's gridlock should be a high priority. Our government officials must increase roadway capacity and reduce the choke points on our highways before congestion puts a chokehold on our economic growth.


President and chief executive

American Highway Users Alliance


Columnist and academic council got it wrong, not academics

In her Nov. 28 Op-Ed column, "American academics get it wrong, again," Helle Bering Dale says the recent report on patriotically incorrect faculty put out by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) could not have been an exercise in McCarthyism because "none of the fools who made the statements are actually named in the report." I am one of the faculty members quoted in the report, and I'm afraid it is Mrs. Dale who is the fool for not doing the basic fact-checking one expects of a serious journalist. The original report ACTA mailed to the media and posted on its Web site named the people who made the statements it considers disloyal, also listing their departments and universities. After about a week, ACTA quietly removed all these people's names from the report on its Web site. I take this as a tacit admission by ACTA that it was indeed inappropriate to have put them there in the first place.


Cambridge, Mass.

Hugh Gusterson is associate professor of anthropology and science studies in the Department of Anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Turkish Cyprus is distinct from and equal to Greek Cyprus

Several points in former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole's Dec. 4 letter to the editor, "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is 'fictitious'" spur comment.

Mr. Dole states that Turkish Cyprus has been "illegally occupied by Turkish troops and Ankara's political proxies." This invites controversy in at least two ways. First, the words "political proxies" suggest that Turkish Cyprus is a puppet and thus not representative of its people. This glosses over the fact that Turkish Cyprus has competing political parties, a parliament with real power and elections judged free and fair by neutral observers. Second, the assertion that the presence of Turkish troops on the island is illegal is not self-evident. In 1960, treaties signed by both ethnic communities in Cyprus and guaranteed by the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey established a republic in Cyprus. This republic was to be based on the proposition that the island contain two distinct nations, co-equal in status and, as such, enjoying equal rights in governance. Mindful that one or the other community might attempt, after independence, to undo this hard-negotiated state of affairs, the drafters of the treaties explicitly provided that the guarantors, singly or in combination, have the right to intervene to restore the state of affairs should it be disrupted. In the Greek coup of 1974, it was indeed disrupted, and Turkey intervened. With support in the treaties, intervention was not clearly illegal.

The United Nations condemned Turkey's use of force. Our own leaders, however, have refused to let the United States be straitjacketed by the vagaries of international organization politics. It would be surprising to learn that Mr. Dole believes the United Nations is the final arbiter in international affairs.

Mr. Dole also states that Turkish Cypriots would win "innumerable benefits" if they agreed to the admission of Cyprus into the European Union. The benefits of membership are well-recognized. However, a crucial condition would have to be placed on membership so that it would not cause more problems than it is worth. Cyprus would need exemption from a basic right in EU countries the freedom of movement and the ability to own real estate freely. The two communities in Cyprus have existed in relative peace for nearly a generation. Separation accommodates this. To be sure, Greek Cypriots nurse grievances against their Turkish compatriots for denying access to old homes and businesses in the North. However, people familiar with the Cyprus conflict warn that suddenly allowing the communities to mix again would spell Bosnia-style disaster.

There is precedent for the European Union to grant the necessary exemption. Persons of Swedish ancestry inhabit Finland's Aaland Islands. The European Union has allowed a special rule limiting Finns from the mainland from buying real property or settling in the Aalands. The Greek Cypriots, however, have resisted such a derogation from EU norms.

Finally, the letter is framed as a complaint against your newspaper for referring to a Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Yet it is not foreign to diplomatic practice to refer to unrecognized states by their own chosen names. During negotiations in Dayton, one party was referred to as the Republika Srpska notwithstanding horrific violations of human rights perpetrated by Serbs under cover of that entity. Even Balkan ethnic cleansers receive benefit of the doubt on this point. The Washington Times certainly does nothing improper when it refers to the Turkish Cypriot community by that community's own chosen name.

An active member of Republicans Abroad UK, I campaigned in 1996 amongst the American community here for Bob Dole in his presidential bid and still consider it a loss that voters declined to elect him to our nation's highest office.


Oxford, England

Thomas D. Grant is Warburg Research Fellow at St. Anne's College, Oxford University.

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