5/30/2008Washington, DC Strikes at Maryland Commuters
Washington, DC officials plan to make life harder on commuters because they are from the state of Maryland.
Officials in Washington, DC want to punish commuters from Maryland by reducing available road capacity on key commuting routes and increasing fines on drivers. Although the District is rolling out a these proposals in the name of improved pedestrian safety, WTOP radio reported that City Councilman Jack Jim Graham (D) had a different motivation.
"It's those Maryland people who drive like nuts," Graham said, as reported by WTOP. "They're the devil. They really are. Quote me on that, please."
District Department of Transportation (DDOT) officials plan to modify 15th Street northwest, a key route used by Maryland drivers who work in Washington, by reducing the existing four lane, one-way street to a single lane in each direction. DDOT would install bicycle lanes to take up the remaining space, even though District figures show that less than two percent of residents use bicycles to commute to work. A DDOT study shows that the plan would result in an increased wait at traffic signals of up to 600 percent.
Other recommendations include allowing meter maids and other non-police employees of the city to issue fines to drivers for failing to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at busy street corners. These citations would also be increased from $50 to $500 if all of the recommendations are followed, although the proposal urges that the fines may need to be adjusted to achieve maximum revenue.
"While it is recommended that fines be increased, if citations appear excessive officers may be discouraged from issuing tickets and the courts may fail to uphold the citations, therefore this recommendation should be explored further to determine the most effective strategy that will yield results in the District," the DC Pedestrian Master Plan stated.
The District plan includes the usual calls for more speed cameras and red light cameras which have already issued more than $225 million in tickets. Graham added a new request for the District to equip meter maids with bulletproof vests, following the lead of Baltimore, Maryland.