Polls and pols in Fairfax County have long said that the No. 1 citizen concern is traffic and an insufficient road network. That would seem to ensure easy passage for the proposed $134.4 million bond issue for major road improvements around the county in this fall's referendum.
But prominent local citizens in favor of the bond issue are taking no chances on its success, which would allow the county to borrow money to build two segments of the cross-county Springfield Bypass, as well as undertake 12 other road widening and construction projects.
At a news conference yesterday at George Mason University, a group calling itself the Coalition for Balanced Transportation announced that it had been formed to promote the bond issue, and plans to spend about $50,000 in the effort.
"We are in a race against time to build a transportation system that will sustain economic growth," said George Mason President George W. Johnson, chairman of the group of business and civic leaders.
Taxes will not be increased to pay for the borrowing if the bond issue is approved, according to the coalition.
Asked whether the coalition would stress that forecast in its public education campaign this fall, Johnson responded: "The economic prosperity of Northern Virginia . . . is absolutely dependent on getting a balanced transportation system in place."
Fairfax is one of the few jurisdictions in Virginia to borrow money on its own for road construction, a function traditionally handled by the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation. But the highway department is financially strapped, and some localities have urged a statewide bond referendum for roads.
A committee of the Virginia Association of Counties last month recommended that the state put a $500 million road bond issue up for referendum as soon as possible.
The panel's recommendation, scheduled to be considered by the VACO executive board next week, urges that the statewide referendum include a list of specific road projects that would be funded by the $500 million.
That plan is seen by some as a possible compromise between the state's urban and suburban jurisdictions, on the one hand, and rural areas, on the other, over how the money raised in a statewide bond issue would be distributed.
But Fairfax County officials say they oppose a statewide road bond that would list specific projects, citing the likelihood that primary roads designed for travel around the state would be favored at the expense of secondary roads, which benefit more populous counties.
Many urban and suburban jurisdictions, including Fairfax, favor an allotment of the funds according to the existing formula of the state highway department, while rural counties would like more state funds channeled toward primary roads, on which they depend heavily.
The campaign for this year's road bond in Fairfax is likely to gear up after Labor Day, when voters return from vacation and public attention focuses on the Nov. 5 referendum.