To supplement Edward Thompson’s recent commentary about his Interstate 270 commute, one should observe the traffic coming down U.S. 15 from north of Frederick, including many cars with Pennsylvania plates — and most with the driver as the sole occupant.

Can’t we do a better job of rail and bus transportation to and from the District of Columbia and intermediate points, as well as carpool parking lots publicizing D.C.-area destinations?

William N. Butler


(5) comments

Captain Yossarian

When are we going to have those compact electric cars that would piggyback on each other on a highway and drive themselves, while minimizing air drag and using less space. Such electronic optimization lead to more density in flight corridors and in train schedules. Why not highway vehicles?

Captain Yossarian

We need to ask ourselves: "What is in it for US, the people of Frederick?"


Captain Yossarian,

"What is in it for US, the people of Frederick?" depends upon a person's perspective.

There are many people, myself included, who are repulsed by the continuing destruction of Frederick County by residential sprawl. Farms, fields, and forests are being paved over. Social problems are exacerbated by increasing population density. More and more children are forced to attend classes in insecure "portables" (trailers), where they are more vulnerable than remaining in the main school building. Our world-class traffic -- which consistently ranks first or second in the nation (see Texas A&M study) -- is getting even worse. In short, every additional development further reduces our quality of life.

Developers (and others related to the housing industry) get rich, and the rest of us suffer.

So, from that perspective, what's in it (increased transportation options) for the majority of the people of FredCo -- who do not travel down I-270 on a regular basis -- is even more residential development. Higher taxes and an even lower quality of life.

Needless to say, at least some of the minority who *do* commute on I-270 would benefit to one degree or another. If they ride the train or monorail they would get a much safer, lower stress commute. They would be able to work, read, watch videos, or nap during the ride. Those that choose to continue driving would -- initially -- have a bit less traffic to deal with due to other drivers taking public transportation.

I say "initially" because any improvement in the ability of people to commute to the D.C. area will result in more housing being built in FredCo and beyond. It'll never happen but let's say public transportation took 1/3 of the vehicles off 270 during rush hour. That would be a noticeable improvement, but the new "excess" capacity would only lead to more sprawl and more cars on the road, and within a couple years the traffic congestion would be as bad as it ever was, if not worse. That's been the case all over the country, countless times. There's even a term for it -- "induced demand".

Also, even those who would ride the train/monorail would still have to drive on local roads to go shopping; shuttle kids to various events; go to appointments, etc. County roads are over stressed as it is.

Those of us who want to preserve what's left of Frederick County would prefer that the sprawl be choked off by doing nothing in the way of additional transportation.

The logical conclusion of the alternative -- the "builders' dream scenario" -- is to max out the width of 270 and/or keep adding more and more public transportation options until Frederick County as we know it is gone. Every square foot bulldozed, paved, and built on. Apartments and townhouse developments from Mount Airy to Myersville, and Urbana to Emmitsburg.


The answer to your question is: we can do a bit better. For people wanting to get to somewhere on the Red Line Metro express buses running in free flow lanes on 270 to Shady Grove or Rockville could help more than any other transit option. They’d have ‘tracks’ built and maintained by other motorists rather than having to be paid for by riders as on a monorail or train service. They could pick up passengers at a bunch of park & rides. Some could go further than Shady Grove to the BWI area perhaps via free-flow ICC/MD200. Other express buses could keep on 270 and head on the toll express lanes and the Silver Line to Tysons Corner for our first direct N Va transit service. But for most people for m most trips no kind of transit will work and their cars are likely to remain the best option. We come from homes dispersed over a large county and go to destinations dispersed over much of the DC/Baltimore/No Va metro area. It is difficult to envisage any financially viable transit system, rail, monorail, bus whatever that can offer service for most people as good as the go-when-you’re ready, door-to-door, convenience of the car given the great variety of routes it can follow. And the way it allows you to combine chores in the one trip, picking up some groceries or whatnot on the way home. And how you can carry a family member along, a pet or work or study materials or sporting gear. If you have to wait your car is often a better place than a train station or a bus stop.


"Is this trip necessary?" was a common sign during a previous war. And perhaps we should ask that before we drive far to work. Can er live closer? Can they move the job to where most of the workers want to live? Is it really necessary to build more roads? If not, I suggest we do not.

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