Letters to the Editor

July 7, 2011

Elected officials need to work harder

In a CNBC ranking published on its website last week, Vermont placed 44th in the country on a list of top states for business. Upon reading this article, a few statistics were rather revealing. Vermont ranked third in the category of quality of life, a title that all of us can be proud of. We also ranked fourth in education, another important factor.

However, we ranked near the bottom of the list in areas such as cost of doing business, infrastructure and transportation, technology and innovation, and cost of living. So I ask our elected officials, how hard are you working to improve the areas under your control?

Let’s face it, none of us can take credit for creating Lake Champlain, the Green Mountains, or the two weeks of summer weather we all enjoy. I am referring to items like taxes, small business loans, job creation incentives, and maintenance of roads and bridges.

Quite frankly, our elected officials are failing us in those areas. As an example, I recently took time out of my schedule, which includes running a small business and raising five children with my wife, to send an e-mail to one of our elected state representatives about an additional tax he had introduced. Two weeks later, no reply.

So I ask our elected officials, how hard are you working? You all seem to have a great deal of energy during election season, but somehow that is depleted after the votes are tallied. Maybe it is time to work a little harder in the “offseason.”

Tony O’Rourke, Williston

Circ is not the solution

Traffic may be a problem. But simply building more and more roads — probably of heat-absorbing black asphalt, and through valuable wetland habitat — is not the way to go about fixing that. According to recent studies, creating more capacity does not, in the long run, alleviate congestion. At first, greater capacity does reduce congestion. But it reduces the incentive for people to carefully plan their trips to minimize driving. Also, less congestion means people are more willing to live farther from their workplaces, because the commute is faster. Within a few years, this extra driving builds up and more (or larger) roads are just as congested as before.

To me, the solution is clear. Rather than spending $60 million or more on the Circ, the state and local governments should strongly encourage people to carpool. The waste involved when hundreds of cars, each carrying just one person, are all going to the same general area is enormous. Taking a passenger or two instead of driving solo can reduce the number of cars on the road by a factor of two or more. Is the Circ really expected to double or triple the current capacity? It would be much more effective to create a fund urging people to carpool. Carpoolers would benefit from sharing gas costs, and the community would benefit from reduced emissions and traffic noise.

Better bike lanes wouldn’t hurt either.

Jacob September, Williston