Gov. Gerald L. Baliles' proposal to create a Virginia commission on transportation was passed by the Senate yesterday and sent to the House.
Sen. Charles L. Waddell (D-Loudoun), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, called the governor's plan "clearly the most significant transportation proposal in the last 50 years."
But creation of the 30-member commission is "only the beginning," Waddell said.
"The real test will be in September," when the General Assembly will return to vote on the commission's recommendations, which could call for issuance of long-term bonds, more toll roads or other revenue-raising ideas.
Waddell said Commissioner of the Department of Highways and Transportation Ray D. Pethtel briefed his committee yesterday on highway needs to the year 2005, and "he did not provide a promising outlook. It was pessimistic."
Still before the Senate are three bills, sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Edward E. Willey (D-Richmond) that would increase revenue for road-building by raising taxes on gasoline and car titles.
Baliles said at a dinner of the Virginia Capitol Correspondents Thursday night that the two approaches are "compatible," but he declined to say whether he would endorse, or attempt to block, Willey's measures.