In his opinion column of Oct. 26, Rip Watson surveyed factors influencing rail service (''When will railroads finally get it right?'' Page 7).

Unfortunately, he missed the mark in writing that ''Customers can continue to insist on better performance and hold accountable those who do not provide it.''How can captive rail shippers, who have no other means of transporting their products, hold carriers accountable where there is no competition?

That's why the Chemical Manufacturers Association supports rail competitiveness legislation in the Senate (S. 621) and the House of Representatives (H.R. 2784).

When railroads are fully deregulated, competition will drive service improvements.


Distribution Team Counsel

Chemical Manufacturers Association

If suburbia wants

to keep sprawling

it must pay piper

I read with great interest Brian Doherty's opinion article on suburban sprawl (''Clubbing America with the anti-sprawl agenda,'' Nov. 4, Page 6).

I have not seen the Sierra Club's list or what criteria they used to rate each state. However, Mr. Doherty misses the point in addressing the anti-sprawl movement.

I reside in a small, older suburban neighborhood just east of Seattle where there are plenty of evergreen trees that were left by the developers. Some of the trees are more than 100 feet tall. This is how many of the older suburban neighborhoods were designed and built in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Developers in the 1990s level an area and build ''estate-size'' homes. None of the original vegetation is left standing, and the houses themselves encompass at least half the lot, if not more.

Sure, there are trees surrounding the new development, but those are quickly removed to build the new strip mall or school to accommodate the new residents.

This sprawl leads to what we in the Pacific Northwest call the California effect: one city running into another with no apparent breaks.

More, not less, congestion occurs with continued expansion. Developers are only concerned about putting as many houses on the ever-shrinking landscape - four houses on an acre instead of two.

Portland, Ore., has traffic problems because the roads were designed decades ago for half as many people. Growth in the late 1980s and early '90s, with lack of adequate planning and funding for infrastructure, has resulted in increased traffic.

Why would having more people in the suburbs reduce congestion and not increase it? How can you compare Los Angeles the city to Alaska the state? God help us if Anchorage looks like Southern California in 10 years.

If suburbia wants to continue to sprawl, it must pay the piper. Suburbanites want their sport-utility vehicles and they want to drive them to work, but they don't want the congestion or higher gas taxes. We can't have both and not suffer some ill effects.


Newcastle, Wash.