Kaine Adds Public Forums on Transportation Plans

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) plans to cite the high costs of road and rail improvements.
Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) plans to cite the high costs of road and rail improvements. (By Steve Helber -- Associated Press)
By Chris L. Jenkins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 8, 2006

RICHMOND, Feb. 7 -- Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) announced Tuesday that he will begin another round of town hall-style meetings on transportation to help generate support for his road and rail initiatives.

At a morning rally of about 200 slow-growth activists at the Capitol, Kaine reaffirmed his support for bills in the General Assembly that would give localities more control over development and allow them to reject certain projects if the road network was not sufficient. He also called on lawmakers to support "21st-century revenues," the bedrock of his plan to unclog congested roads and help fund public transit initiatives.

Kaine said he wants to take the transportation issue to Virginians in at least five forums, where he will outline the various road and rail plans offered by state lawmakers.

"It's very important to have the public engaged in this," Kaine said to reporters after the rally, which drew activists from Northern Virginia and other communities.

"They want us to compromise and listen but not be drawing lines in the sand and come home with nothing," he said.

His announcement came a day after his plan to raise $4 billion over four years was rejected by a House panel, but the General Assembly is far from done with transportation and growth issues in a session scheduled to end March 11.

Kaine began a first round of transportation forums shortly after his election in November. He decided to open the new round, beginning Monday in Norfolk, as part of his strategy to build public support for his call for billions of dollars in new revenue. It also could put pressure on House Republicans, who have yet to release a revenue package that addresses transportation and are opposed to the tax increases Kaine said the state needs to finance projects.

The governor plans a meeting outside Roanoke on Tuesday and in Northern Virginia in two weeks.

Last week, Kaine urged Loudoun County business leaders to pressure the General Assembly to pass laws that would ease traffic. In public appearances this week, Kaine plans to tell his audiences that improvements will cost a significant amount of money.

Kaine has proposed a combination of changes in land use laws and tax increases that would raise about $1 billion a year for transportation projects. The Senate has its own plan that would also raise about $1 billion a year in new money. Republican leaders in the House plan to release a revenue proposal soon.

"By next Monday, I think most of the pieces will be on the table," Kaine said.

The strategy is similar to that used by former governor Mark R. Warner (D) in 2004, when he traveled the state to stir support for his tax package that ultimately led to extra revenue for schools, public safety and health care.

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