Virginia Democratic candidate for governor Gerald L. Baliles called yesterday for major rail and highway projects to help Washington area commuters, but stopped short of saying how he would finance the projects.
Both Baliles and his opponent, Republican Wyatt B. Durrette, have championed major transportation improvements in Northern Virginia, responding to what politicians from the area say is one of the region's most pressing political issues. Neither candidate has offered specific proposals for funding the Northern Virginia projects, most of which they both support.
Baliles, the former state attorney general, endorsed greater state funding for Metro yesterday, "fast-tracking" the design of the proposed Springfield Bypass across Fairfax County, a two-year trial for commuter rail service to the District from Manassas and Fredericksburg, an "Outer Beltway" that would swing through the outer counties, widening Sulley Road and rebuilding bridges and highways.
A sound transportation network, Baliles said, "is a prerequisite for economic growth and prosperity." He added that transportation problems "affect our daily lives more . . . directly than any other issue involving state government."
Baliles presented his transportation paper early yesterday on the platform of the Alexandria King Street Amtrak station. He reiterated his message at a construction site on Braddock Road in Fairfax County, where he could scarcely be heard above the din of earthmoving equipment, and at the Arlington County Court House, where he toured offices.
Despite his call for improved transportation, Baliles declined to take a position on this fall's bond referendum in Fairfax for roads or on a proposal for a statewide referendum for roads.
Reporters, crowding around Baliles at the Alexandria Amtrak station yesterday to hear above the rumble of arriving trains, asked if his transportation stance differed from Durrette's.
"I forgot my opponent's name," Baliles replied.
Pressed for an answer, he restated a familiar theme of his campaign, charging that Durrette "has been less than consistent and dependable" and "somewhat vague" on transportation and other issues.
A spokesman for Durrette, Stephen A. Levet, said: "Gerry Baliles is echoing the policies that Wyatt Durrette has already advocated. Once again it is clear that Wyatt is taking the leadership position while Gerry Baliles simply follows behind."
Baliles, like Durrette, vowed to set up a commission to examine transportation problems and recommend ways to alleviate them.