Virginia candidates for governor outline transit ideas

| 9/22/2004

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 properly.

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.