Improving Virginia’s roads and bridges is expected to figure
prominently in next year’s race for the governor’s seat.
With that in mind, the two likely gubernatorial candidates
are beginning to craft plans to improve the state’s transportation network.
Lt. Gov. Timothy Kaine and Attorney General Jerry Kilgore
have not outlined comprehensive plans on how they would fund road and rail
projects, but they have started laying out some basic ideas.
Both men said Sept. 17 they would support a proposal for an
amendment to the state constitution to prevent the government from dipping into
its transportation trust fund for other purposes, The Washington Post reported. The fund’s revenue, which contains $815 million, has been used on
three occasions in the past 15 years for purposes other than transportation.
Kilgore and Kaine each have said the practice diminishes
public confidence that money earmarked for public transportation is being used
Both candidates also have said they oppose hiking the
state’s motor fuel tax to fund rail and road projects, a plan that was floated
and ultimately fell flat during the 2004 General Assembly session.
Kilgore, a Republican, said he is looking to establish
public-private partnerships and expand high-occupancy toll lane projects, which
would allow commuters to either carpool or pay a fee to bypass slower traffic.
He said he would also like to increase incentives for
Northern Virginians to ride Metro as well as look at the possibility of
increasing tolls to raise money for roads.
“There are other ways of funding projects besides raising
taxes,” Kilgore told The Post.
Democratic candidate Kaine also has said his transportation
proposals would encourage better land-use planning.
“Transportation will be the biggest issue that the next
governor and the Legislature will have to face when they are sworn in January
2006,” Kaine said.