- The Washington Times - Monday, September 5, 2005

Vacationers going back to work, students returning to college and school buses taking to the streets the day after Labor Day add up to what transportation advocates call “Terrible Traffic Tuesday,” or “T3” for short.

Road watchers say the region’s population and job growth could make this year’s T3 the most gridlocked to date, and that it is time for local governments to do something about it.

“[This] week there will be more commuters than ever before,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman Lon Anderson said. “We have not added any new capacity to help resolve this intractable transportation problem, so it gets worse.”

Richard Parsons, president of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, said progress has been made in plans to ease congestion on his side of the Capital Beltway.

The Intercounty Connector, or ICC, which would link Interstate 270 in Montgomery County to Interstate 95 in Prince George’s County, and the Montrose Parkway, linking I-270 and Rockville Pike in North Bethesda, are steps in the right direction, he said.

But he said decades-long debates preceded the approval of those projects, and the region doesn’t have time to spare before implementing other needed transportation schemes.

“The ICC is finally happening, and that’s great news,” Mr. Parsons said. “But it took 40 years to make that decision.”

He urged local leaders not to let another 40 years pass before beginning work on Metro’s planned Purple Line linking Bethesda and Silver Spring.

William D. Lecos, president of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, said he saw improvements in his jurisdiction, too. He was encouraged by construction on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, improvements on Interstates 66 and 95, and plans to extend Metro out to Tysons Corner.

But he insisted that further improvements to the transportation grid are needed, like additional lanes on the Beltway and along the I-95/I-395 corridor.

“While we’re doing some, we’re not doing enough, and we’ve got to keep moving forward,” he said.

Meanwhile, commuters who haven’t gone to a gas station in recent days will be in for a shock.

The auto club reported yesterday that the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gas soared 34 cents during the weekend. The region’s average price stood at $3.23.

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