One of the consequences of the proliferation of media outlets is that we sometimes forget what role we are playing. We signed on to be editors of a weekly feature news magazine, a position that would occasionally require us to print letters to the editor from members of our readership.

Instead we sometimes feel more like Larry King on talk TV, introducing a caller from the hinterlands: “Now we have Bob from West Windsor calling in. Hi, Bob. What’s on your mind?”

It happens mostly electronically, often as comments posted on our website, But occasionally we get the anonymous letter in the mail, as we did the other day. The writer raised a good point, in response to the February 25 letter from the mayors of various communities urging improvements to Route 1 in the vicinity of the new medical center location.

“Where is the foresight so essential to planning innovative solutions to local transportation woes?” the letter writer asks. The mayors, in calling for more road building, “myopically rely upon private automobiles as a pie-in-the-sky remedy to traffic congestion. But that is the cause, not the solution!

“When sprawl development ensues nearly unabated — as with the shopping malls built along Route 1 in the 1970s and continuing through to the University Medical Center at Princeton’s anticipated move to Plainsboro in 2011 — alternative infrastructures should be embraced. Instead the mayors of (South Brunswick, Plainsboro, West Windsor, Lawrence, and the two Princetons) advocate wider roadways, more lanes, additional overpasses, the result of which will be — surprise! — more automobiles, more pollution, more water drainage problems, more congestion.

“It is important to remember that the Princeton Junction train station ‘redevelopment plan’ is basically a real estate development project. What is sorely needed, however, is vastly expanded local public transit services to mitigate spiraling traffic woes.

“There have been decades of erosion to already-existing local bus service, for example, that your municipalities have willingly acceded to if not encouraged. When will elected officials try walking, bicycling, or boarding a local bus or train so as to gain invaluable new perspectives on the benefits and need for improved public transit infrastructure.”

So who is this enlightened letter writer and what are the circumstances that inform his or her opinions. The letter is simply signed “Bob in West Windsor.”

For a signed opinion regarding the proposed Route 1 improvements see the Interchange column on page 4 of this issue. And to register your own opinions (signed, we hope, and with your company affiliation or profession identified, if possible) send us an E-mail or post a comment at the online version of any article.

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