- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2001

Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark L. Earley yesterday vowed to spend an extra $1.8 billion on widening state roads and expanding mass transit and telecommuting initiatives in Virginia, all without raising taxes.
Mr. Earley said the extra money would potentially speed up the Dulles Corridor Rail project, which extends Metro service to Tysons Corner and Washington Dulles International Airport, and help fund the widening of Interstate 66 and the Capital Beltway.
"My plan is about getting more cars off the road and getting people to move quicker," Mr. Earley said at a news conference yesterday morning at the Franconia-Springfield Metro station, where he presented his transportation plan.
The $1.8 billion, over four years, would be a 14 percent increase to the Virginia Department of Transportation's $3.2 billion annual budget. Mr. Earley said the new money would come from bonds, an advance on the state's share of federal transportation funds, and the state's tax on insurance premiums.
He said transportation is particularly critical in Northern Virginia, an area which has some of the worst traffic congestion in the country.
"The congestion in Northern Virginia not only threatens the quality of life, but also our ability to grow economically," he said. "My plan would reduce congestion and open up areas around the state for economic growth."
His opponent, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark R. Warner, is expected to offer a transportation plan within the next few weeks, his campaign staff said yesterday.
Mo Elleithee, Mr. Warner's spokesman, declined to release any details of the candidate's plan, but he criticized Mr. Earley for not addressing these issues while holding office as a state legislator and attorney general.
"For 14 years, he's had an opportunity to address the problems," Mr. Elleithee said. "Why hasn't he done this before? People are tired of candidates who make promises and then their records don't stack up."
Mr. Earley's plan also calls for creating a litigation strike force that would work with the Attorney General's Office to deal with lawsuits filed to stop transportation projects. "We want to make sure that transportation moves forward," he said.
In addition, the plan includes a "chokepoint initiative" that would create a group of localities that would identify congested intersections and bottlenecks that could be fixed with a small amount of money.
The plan also focuses on expanding the state's telework programs to encourage tax incentives, pollution credits and the reduction of telecommunication taxes. Mr. Earley said he also wants to invest in a system that would deliver real-time traffic data through commuters' pagers, cell phones and the Internet.
Mr. Earley said he would work to improve the state's relationship with Maryland on regional transportation issues, such as the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, and explore the possibility of a third crossing across the Potomac River. Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III, a Republican, and Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat, have repeatedly argued over the Wilson bridge and an additional crossing.
"I know that we won't agree on everything, but I'm convinced we can find some common ground to work on," Mr. Earley said.

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