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No scheme is too crazy for Pa. turnpike officials

The PG's Joe Grata reports that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is offering what amounts to a "buy one, get one free" deal for the Mon-Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway, but "it's not a deal for everyone" ("Turnpike Offers Big Incentive to Finish Mon-Fay," Aug. 21). I'll say -- but it looks like no one asked turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier who exactly would pay to drive on the toll roads once they're finished.

That $5 billion the turnpike is talking about would have to be earned back (plus interest!) off the drivers who'd be paying the tolls on the finished roads. Who could afford it?

With the rising price of gas, people are looking for ways to drive less, not more -- and no smart investors will tell you otherwise. What a waste of time and money!

The officials at the turnpike commission are so desperate to see this project built, there is no scheme too crazy enough for them to try. It's all about making their jobs secure and not what's good for the region. We need some serious changes here and it's getting very tiring reading about the misguided Mon-Fayette Follies. It's funny that many of the local crony politicians support it, even though there is no evidence that it will provide economic revitalization of the Mon Valley other than keeping contractors employed.

The only sure things this road will accomplish are to destroy precious farmland and to create sprawl south of the city just like what has happened in Cranberry. Once built, this eyesore will be here for eternity and so will the price tag, plus interest.

DAVID SMETAK
Swissvale


Turnpike foolery

Can you believe it? The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission wants to give away the part of the Mon-Fayette it just built ("Turnpike Offers Big Incentive to Finish Mon-Fay," Aug. 21). In reality, Pennsylvania taxpayers built it. Give it away for a promise to build more of the same ill-advised toll road.

That toll road cost $1.9 billion, plus they want to throw in all the plans to build more of it. Only in Pennsylvania.

ART FLEMING
Forest Hills


Follow Denmark

I am rather surprised that no one has written to you concerning Thomas L. Friedman's column about Denmark's oil solutions ("Flush With Energy," Aug. 12). It has really opened my eyes to the possibility of energy efficiency.

The fact that Denmark uses no Middle Eastern oil is mind-boggling. Of course, it does have oil from the North Sea, but the imposition of high gasoline taxes has cut that nation's usage about 50 percent. Carbon dioxide taxes and building and appliance efficiency have changed their ways of living to energy-independent ways. Unemployment is now 1.6 percent.

I was really impressed that there are virtually no trash landfills and that they have found a way to incinerate their trash. Our government has stopped the wind industry from growing and seems to feel that the only way to proceed is to find and drill for more oil. These oil additions would not be usable for five to 10 years.

Is our government so oil (or oil company) dependent that no other ways can be found? It seems to me that we could try to incorporate different solutions to fend off the crisis of energy dependence by using the smart personnel in our country to figure out alternative energy methods. If Denmark, a small country with limited resources, has discovered workable solutions for itself, we should be able to fashion some energy-independent answers in our own country in this five- to 10-year plan. Let's hope these answers will be found soon.

JOAN SCHWARTZMAN
Shadyside


Clean commitment

Over the last six years, Pennsylvania has established itself as a leader in the development and deployment of advanced, alternative and renewable energy sources.

That success stems from the bipartisan efforts of the Rendell administration and the General Assembly to enact policies like the state's renewable energy portfolio standard, one of the most progressive in the country.

It was that joint energy vision and cooperative spirit that drew Spain-based Gamesa, a wind turbine manufacturer, here in 2004. Since then, Gamesa has opened four manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania, investing $175 million and creating more than 1,100 good-paying jobs statewide.

The potential for growth is tremendous.

With the governor's recent decision to name John Hanger as the new head of the Department of Environmental Protection -- a key partner in Gamesa's success -- Pennsylvania has a leader who understands the importance of a clean energy economy ("Rendell Picks Environment Advocate to Lead DEP," Aug. 20).

As past president of PennFuture and in his previous roles in public service, Mr. Hanger has worked hard to advocate clean energy solutions, including wind. And he has been a vocal supporter of the state's portfolio standard, from its development to its implementation.

Gov. Rendell's selection of John Hanger to head DEP shows that Pennsylvania remains committed to putting people to work by building a clean energy future that grows our economy, improves the environment and makes us safer and more secure at home.

MICHAEL A. PECK
Director of Media, Labor & Institutional Relations
Gamesa USA
Philadelphia, Pa.


Bikers ignore rules

In regard to the ongoing stories of Pittsburgh bicyclists: I work with a private ambulance service, and I wonder why there aren't more injuries and deaths.

We've learned to check our right-side mirrors for bicyclists passing on our right as we turn. And don't even talk to us about bicyclists "blowing through" red lights.

All the biking enthusiasts talk of the motorists looking out for them; how about bicyclists following basic rules of the road?

JEFF HERMAN
Penn Hills


Ease up, drivers

As a former recreational bicyclist (mostly in North Park), I highly respect the right of bikers to share the road. Drivers who complain are most likely the same ones who tailgate, weave in and out of lanes and want to own the road.

So, slow down, smell the roses, lower your blood pressure and enjoy life.

By the way, I still see so many people attempting to drive under the influence of cell phones, which has proved to be as dangerous as drunken driving, a criminal act.

JOSEPH J. KAIB
Shaler


No interference

Regarding "Dictating Beliefs" (Aug. 25 letter by Lindsey Walton): I lived in China for a year and attended church services in two large cities with absolutely no interference from anyone. People were free to attend churches if they wished to do so.

In the city of 5 million where we lived, North American friends even attended "underground" churches with no problems. (Of course, they were not prominent people who had the press following them.)

KEN LONG
New Wilmington


Obama faces childish foes who reject the truth

I was just talking to my 4-year-old niece. We were debating whether a bowl of ice cream I gave her was her nightly snack. I knew, of course, that it was. She adamantly believed it wasn't. Then she told me, explicitly, "I'm right, you're wrong and I don't care!" It can be difficult to argue with a 4-year-old, because it's hard to debate with someone who hasn't fully developed a sense of right and wrong.

It's also hard to debate with a 40-year-old if he or she has refused to develop that same sense. "Barack Obama is a Muslim!" No, he's not. "Yes, he is, and I don't care!" "Barack Obama is a Kenyan!" No, he's not. "Yes, he is, and I don't care!" "Michelle Obama is a black militant!" No, she's not. "Yes, she is, and I don't care!"

So, let me ask you this: If a group of people do not and will not accept factually correct truths about their opposition, why would they accept factually correct truths about our economic, social and foreign policies? They can't! ... And they don't care.

KEVIN GALLAGHER
Cranberry




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