Republican gubernatorial candidate Wyatt B. Durrette yesterday outlined a transportation improvement program for Northern Virginia, and said GOP dominance of local political offices puts him in a better position to accomplish the projects than his opponent, Democrat Gerald L. Baliles.
In a news conference at the unfinished West Falls Church Metrorail station, which is scheduled to open next summer, Durrette was surrounded by about a dozen Northern Virginia Republicans as he talked about transportation, one of the key election issues in the area.
Among the transportation issues he endorsed were: higher funding and completion of the entire 101-mile Metrorail system; the proposed two-year experiment for commuter rail service from Fredericksburg and Manassas to the District; a light rail system connecting Washington Dulles International Airport with the Metrorail system; speeding plans for the Springfield bypass; the proposed Outer Beltway that would swing through the outer suburban counties and improvements for Rte. 28.
Durrette, a former state legislator from Fairfax, acknowledged that his ideas parallel those of Baliles, who made a similar presentation in Northern Virginia 11 days earlier.
Like Baliles, he refused to say how he would finance the proposals he endorsed. But Durrette contended that, having lived in Northern Virginia, where he worked as an attorney for 15 years, he has a better grasp of the region's transportation needs than Baliles, who is a native of Patrick County.
"I've been far more comprehensive than he has," said Durrette of his opponent. "I have a broader understanding . . . and depth of commitment than Baliles ," he said, adding that most of Baliles' proposals were issued after he made his own positions public.
Durrette also underlined the need to scrap binding arbitration with employes of the Metro system, which is subsidized in large part by local jurisdictions as well as by state funds from Virginia and Maryland.
He said arbitration agreements in the past have favored employes, particularly bus drivers, who he said earn more than teachers and firefighters, costing localities millions of dollars.
He stressed that if elected he could take advantage of his ties to Northern Virginia Republicans, who control both seats in Congress from the region as well as the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Durrette was joined by a dozen Northern Virginia Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Fairfax County Board Chairman John F. Herrity and members of the Northern Virginia delegation to the General Assembly.
Said Wolf: "We [Republicans] could make things happen . . . . We could make a difference."