Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Wyatt B. Durrette, taking what is likely to be a popular stand with Fairfax County voters, pledged yesterday to hasten design of the cross-county Springfield Bypass if he is elected.
Under a scorching midday sun, Durrette posed with prominent Fairfax Republicans on a stretch of the bypass near Springfield that is being built by a private developer and declared, "Transportation is the key to what we hope for in Northern Virginia."
Durrette said that if he is elected on Nov. 5, he will form a task force the next day to study how the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation, which is responsible for designing the road, could speed the process. The task force would report to him, he said, the day after he takes office in January.
Gerald L. Baliles, Durrette's Democratic opponent in the race for governor, has also proposed seeking ways that the bypass could be "fast-tracked."
Fairfax County officials have proposed a $134.4 million highway bond issue, including about $90 million for the Springfield Bypass, that would be approved or rejected by county voters in a referendum on election day. The money in the bond package for the bypass would pay for two segments, totaling about eight miles. County officials have long said that the bypass is crucial to improving traffic movement around the 399-square-mile county.
Durrette declined to take a position on the referendum itself, but said he supports the bypass. Baliles could not be reached for comment on the referendum.
The state highway department has said it would take about two years to design the 35-mile bypass, which would sweep from Leesburg Pike (Rte. 7) in the north to Rte. 1 in the south, roughly paralleling the Capital Beltway.
Durrette said he would try to cut down the design time for the road. "It's the state's responsibility to ensure that our role is fulfilled quickly and expeditiously," he said.
Durrette was accompanied by Republicans John F. Herrity, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and Supervisor Elaine McConnell, who represents the Springfield District.
The candidate called transportation "probably the most unifying issue" among voters throughout Virginia.