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Roads to Nowhere

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Dear editors:

Harold Henderson's "Up Against the Sprawl" (September 6) contains some anti-antisprawl arguments that are roads to nowhere.

For example, Henderson notes that fixing old facilities can cost more than creating new facilities in outlying areas. There is a glaring problem with this argument, however: new infrastructure soon enough becomes old infrastructure in need of costly maintenance and repair. Our sprawling society is expanding its costly and aging roads, streets, and bridges at a throttling pace.

Henderson also says sprawl may not cause traffic congestion, alluding to statistics showing stable average car commuting times. However, since car commuters are only a portion of road users, such statistics are of limited value. Furthermore, stable car commuting times in an era of worsening traffic congestion are probably caused by phenomena unrelated to sprawl, such as the more varied work schedule patterns that have turned "rush hour" into a stretched version of its former self.

More generally, Henderson's defeatist antisprawl tone is premature. The fight to curb area sprawl is much closer to the beginning than the end.

Brian C. Bendig

W. Grace

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