- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Tolls proposed to ease congestion

Transportation planners are considering an extensive network of tolls to help reduce congestion and fund improvements.

The proposed solutions, which are to be discussed tomorrow by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, are similar to New York City’s plan to charge fees for vehicles entering congested parts of Manhattan.

Stockholm and London use such tolls.

In a report completed last month, the congestion-pricing plan deemed most favorable involves variable tolls on freeways and parkways, as well as all river crossings in the District and some other roads.

The price would vary depending on how bad the traffic is. The goal is to use market forces to keep traffic flowing freely at all times. The tolls would be collected by transponders such as those used for E-ZPass, without the need for toll booths.

Arlington County Board member Chris Zimmerman, who chairs a COG task force on congestion pricing, said tolls are the wave of the future.

“It’s inevitable that our society is eventually going to have to price our roadways,” Mr. Zimmerman said yesterday. “There’s no free lunch, and there’s no free ride.”

The study looked at options for adding capacity and converting existing lanes to tolled lanes, which would continue to be free for buses and vehicles with at least three persons.

Only one of those scenarios would charge tolls for all D.C. bridges and freeways and apply congestion pricing to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. New lanes with congestion pricing would be added outside the Capital Beltway.



Man pleads guilty after DNA link

A Baltimore inmate linked by DNA evidence to an 1985 murder was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty, prosecutors said.

Orrell Youmans, 51, was connected to the death of 26-year-old Beverly Feight by DNA samples in December 2006 while serving a 40-year sentence for a 1985 rape conviction.

Prosecutors said Youmans kidnapped Miss Feight before assaulting, robbing, raping and stabbing her. Her body was dumped in a wooded area in northwest Baltimore.

Youmans pleaded guilty yesterday to second-degree murder, carrying a deadly weapon and a first-degree sex offense. The sentence will begin once he completes his 1985 rape sentence.


Ship’s crew cited for intoxication

Five crew members of a Maltese-flagged ship held in Maryland waters were charged with improperly operating the ship because crew members were intoxicated and one pulled a knife on a Maryland pilot, prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors announced the arrests yesterday in an ongoing investigation by the Coast Guard and Maltese officials into what happened March 10 aboard the Ocean Victory.

Chesapeake Bay pilots sought Coast Guard assistance after learning several crew members were intoxicated while they were navigating out of the Bay.

A Bay pilot demanded Master Wojciech Kowalski, 63, find a sober sailor to man the wheelhouse, authorities said. But prosecutors said Volodym Voychenko, 45, smelled of alcohol and shoved the pilot before threatening the pilot with a large knife.

The 328-foot-vessel has been anchored at the mouth of the Patuxent River since a no-sail order March 10.


Prison guard guilty of smuggling smokes

A federal judge sentenced a Cumberland correctional officer to a year and a day in prison for accepting bribes to smuggle cigarettes and tobacco into the prison.

Prosecutors said Robb Phillips, 34, received $14,000 since April 2006 for smuggling up to 50 packs of cigarettes a week into the Federal Correctional Institution.

Phillips received $50 per pack or $1,000 for each carton he smuggled to inmates, authorities said. He used a large potato chip bag in his lunchbox to sneak them into the prison.

They also said Phillips used state corrections computers to monitor e-mails and phone calls, making sure no one was revealing his scheme.


Boy, 4, killed in apartment fire

A 4-year-old boy was killed and his mother critically injured in an apartment fire yesterday morning.

Prince George’s County firefighters were called to the Hampton on the Park Apartments at about 7:45 a.m. The woman and child were rushed to hospitals, but the boy died.

The boy was identified as Brian Argueta.

Prince George’s County fire spokesman Maj. Chauncey Bowers said the fire was contained in the bedroom the mother and son were sharing. The apartment had a smoke alarm outside the room.

Maj. Bowers said the fire apparently was caused by a candle in the bedroom.


Three hotel workers face drug charges

Anne Arundel County Police charged three persons with shipping $450,000 of cocaine to a local hotel.

Police said they arrested Bernard King and Jovon Savage of Upper Marlboro at the hotel where they worked after intercepting a package with nearly 10 pounds of cocaine. Anne Arundel and Prince George’s detectives let the package arrive at the hotel before taking the two men into custody.

Detectives learned that the two men were working with another employee, Nicole Freeman of District Heights, who is still at large.

Police said the three would set up a reservation under a false name so the drugs could be shipped from California to that fictitious person. When the package arrived, they would cancel the reservation and take the drugs.

Police did not disclosed the name of the hotel.


Boy, 17, slain; motive not known

A 17-year-old boy was found fatally shot in the Robinwood neighborhood late Sunday night, police said.

Police responding to a report of shots fired found Kwame Johnson on the ground in the 1300 block of Tyler Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene. A 48-year-old Severna Park man was found fatally shot in his car in the same block Feb. 17.

Investigators know of no motive. Police said Kwame lived in the 2000 block of Forest Drive.

The case is the fourth homicide in the city this year.


Dirt-bike driver hit by freight train

A 26-year-old man on his motorized dirt bike was struck by a freight train Sunday evening while riding along the Norfolk Southern tracks next to the Susquehanna River.

Firefighters used a rescue boat to reach the man along the riverbank, and he was conscious when they found him.

The man’s name was not released.



Flaky resemblance draws EBay interest

It sounds a little flaky, but bids were closing in on $200,000 last night on EBay for a piece of breakfast cereal shaped like the state of Illinois.

Two sisters from Chesapeake listed the “Great Illinois Corn Flake” on the online auction site, promising it has undergone no alterations.

Emily McIntire, 15, a high school sophomore, said she was grabbing fistfuls of Frosted Flakes on her way to class when she saw the flake shaped like Illinois.

Her sister, Melissa, 23, said their parents suggested selling it for fun. They are offering free shipping to Illinois.

The McIntire sisters said they will use the proceeds from the sale to buy more boxes of Frosted Flakes.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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