Strangled by the Beltway


DC Examiner editorial page editor Mark Tapscott wanted to find out what transportation officials in DC's big suburban counties—Fairfax Co, VA and Montgomery Co, MD—thought of the Reason Foundation's research on suburban congestion. So he put it in their hands.

The Washington Examiner sent a copy of "The Road More Traveled" to each member of the Montgomery and Fairfax boards. We asked them to read the book — which is well-written, factual and concise — then tell us their reaction. The deadline was Friday and we said their responses or lack of would be published.

The book was written by Ted Balaker and Sam Staley. They uncovered mountains of data and other evidence that discounts most conventional wisdom on transportation policy among federal bureaucrats, state functionaries in Richmond and Annapolis and the Fairfax and Montgomery fiefdoms.

The book has been widely praised by this newspaper and The Washington Post, plus a rapidly growing list of government officials, academic experts and private sector executives looking for new approaches to reduce or even eliminate traffic congestion. (Yes, it's been done in major cities elsewhere and it can be done here, too.)

In short, "The Road More Traveled" is chock full of fresh thinking about one the biggest worries facing most of us living in the Washington region — what's the traffic like out there today. It's a significant book that local officials need to read, just as many elsewhere already have.

Despite several follow-up reminder calls and e-mails, only [Phil] Andrews read the book and then told us what he thought of it. One other official — Penelope Gross of Fairfax's Mason district — sent a single snarky sentence instead of a serious response.

In the bureaucrats' defense, it can take about a month for a mail truck to get from downtown DC over to Fairfax's county offices if the delivery starts at rush hour.

Reason published some of Staley and Balaker's research in our April issue. George Will and Fred Hiatt praised their studies in the pages of that other Washington crossword puzzle-dispenser. And the full book's available at Amazon.