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Kaine Vows to Fight Efforts To Re-Solicit Bids for Project

Gov. Timothy Kaine talks about his pre-kindergarten plans on Wednesday. He said Thursday that rebidding the Metrorail project would send a
Gov. Timothy Kaine talks about his pre-kindergarten plans on Wednesday. He said Thursday that rebidding the Metrorail project would send a "very damaging message." (By Steve Helber -- Associated Press)
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By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 29, 2008

RICHMOND, Feb. 28 -- Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said Thursday that he will oppose efforts to force the state to rebid the proposed Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport.

In the House version of the 2008-10 budget, Del. Joe T. May (R-Loudoun) inserted a provision that instructs the Virginia Department of Transportation to "re-solicit competitive proposals" for the project.

May's amendment comes after federal officials announced last month that they are unlikely to fund the project as it is currently structured.

Kaine (D) and Virginia's congressional delegation are trying to work with federal officials to salvage the plan and secure as much as $900 million in federal aid for the $5 billion project.

At a meeting Thursday between House and Senate budget negotiators, Kaine said one of his top priorities is having May's language removed.

Kaine said he worries about the ramifications if the state breaks its contract with Dulles Transit Partners, a consortium of companies led by Bechtel.

"I read that as a lawyer, asking us to break a contract we have with someone else," Kaine said. "That action would occasion a delay in this project and expose somebody to legal liability."

He also warned that rebidding the project would send a "very damaging message to other potential bidders" for state projects.

Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), a budget conferee, said he also wants the provision removed. House GOP leaders said they will study Kaine's request.

Kaine also asked budget conferees to fund his pre-kindergarten and economic development initiatives as well as his plans to conserve more open space.

The House proposes spending $20 million over the next two years on land conservation. The Senate wants to spend $50 million.

Kaine made his comments on the first day of budget negotiations, which are occurring amid growing warnings from Democrats that Republicans are trying to decimate state aid for teacher salaries. Republicans control the House; Democrats have a slim majority in the Senate.

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