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Daze of My Life: Paving the Way, or Driven to It

Daze of My Life
Paving the Way, or Driven to It
by Kenneth B. Lourie

Well, it seems as if us Burtonsvillians have something in common with you Potomacians. Aside from both being part of the same county, and that is concrete, or shall I say, the absence of concrete pending the conclusion of traffic studies, environmental impact reports, Army Corps of Engineers surveys, and master plans, depending on which way the hot air blows, either supports or stymies the future of our respective communities.
Specifically what I refer to is the ongoing, never-say-die consideration of both the Inter County Connector (the east-west link between I-370 in Montgomery County and I95 in Prince George's County) and the "Techway" (the next Potomac
River Bridge, crossing somewhere around Point of Rocks, Md.). This bridge will connect Maryland and Virginia in yet another multi-billion dollar project, which, along with the ICC, proponents say, will ease traffic congestion, reroute the 18-wheelers off the Beltway (thereby eliminating the ever problematic overturned tractor trailer from our list of concerns) and in general, improve the quality of our lives.
It sounds almost too good to be true, like a pill that not only facilitates weight loss but stimulates hair growth: a panacea-type pipe dream for men (and women) who are both overweight and bald (or balding). Since the Boston Red
Sox won the World Series in 2004; my dream has already come true. Besides, I'm only overweight. I have a full head of hair.
However, as a county resident who lives in the northeast corner of the county--near I-95, adjacent to Laurel--who commutes southwest to McLean during the week, I have firsthand experience of the commuting problems that these two projects are envisioned to address, dare I say, solve?
The variable is right out of the movie "Field of Dreams," that "If you build it, they will most definitely come". And what happens if they, and the developers, do come? Will these new roads and bridge solve a problem in the future that definitely exists today, or will their completion simply create yet another problem in the future that doesn't exist today? Solving the present in the future seems not very logical in the least, but extremely illogical in the most.
Granted, roads and bridges take time to construct, but over time many of the underlying principles and patterns that characterized the original need may change.
Technology, development, behavior, demographics, job creation, etc. often can combine to provide unexpected solutions. It's a maybe against a definite.
Maybe progress minimizes the need to pave over paradise, but thanks to Governor Ehrlich's maneuvering to choke off dissent, some of our future green spaces and blue skies are definitely at risk.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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