Gov. Gerald L. Baliles will come to Northern Virginia today for a four-day stay examining issues ranging from rush-hour traffic jams to the need for seat belts on school buses.
The governor, fulfilling a campaign promise to take the state government out of Richmond, will concentrate on transportation issues during his visit and will be courted at every stop by local officials eager to impress him about their problems.
While the governor will avoid this morning what he has acknowledged is one of the area's best-known commuter headaches -- the traffic backup on the Shirley Highway -- he will take to the air tomorrow morning to see rush-hour traffic with traffic reporters for radio station WMAL.
His trip from Richmond this morning will be aboard a special Amtrak train from Richmond and traffic problems will be the topic of discussion during the 105-minute trip.
As the train heads north, Virginia Transportation Secretary Vivian Watts, a former state legislator from Fairfax County, will brief Baliles and the state Highway and Transportation Board on progress of a special gubernatorial commission, which is studying ways to speed highway construction. The commission will report to a special session of the legislature in September.
During his stay, Baliles will meet with Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole. Transportation issues are expected to figure prominently in the talks with all three.
The Virginia governor will end his stay Saturday morning by dedicating the latest extension of Metrorail, opening the Orange Line from East Falls Church to Vienna.
The Northern Virginia stay won't be all work. The governor is going to an Orioles baseball game in Baltimore tonight and will attend a production of "Macbeth" by Arlington schoolchildren Friday.
Baliles and his staff also will include meetings on economic development and regional cooperation. In March, Baliles staged a similar visit to the Roanoke area.