Not much has changed for the sour-faced commuters in gridlocked Tysons Corner.
A day after Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) announced his proposal to spend $2 billion in new money on transportation projects statewide over the next six years, the commuters who tangle daily with some of Northern Virginia's most clogged highways grimaced and griped. Yesterday, many of them saw little relief for their commutes.
"He really should've gone after the problem a little bit heavier," said Mark White, 33, an engineer who drives to work from Reston. "We've got big transportation problems in Northern Virginia. Other areas could've been touched on. How about the widening of Route 7?"
Gilmore's proposal, which did not provide specifics about spending on Northern Virginia projects, highlighted some major undertakings such as bus service to Dulles International Airport and the extension of Metrorail from West Falls Church to Tysons Corner and, eventually, the airport. But that $2 billion project alone would require $850 million in state funds.
Other projects on Gilmore's list include the widening of Interstate 66 on both sides of the Capital Beltway, the extension of Metrorail to Centreville and the expansion of service on Virginia Railway Express, including a new commuter rail line to Fauquier County.
Tysons, with its 20 million square feet of commercial space, has become a major regional job center and a trial for commuters who negotiate such overburdened roadways as the Beltway, I-66 and the Dulles Toll Road.
Yesterday, about two dozen of those commuters, interviewed as they ate lunch or did errands at the mall, said they were skeptical of Gilmore's plan. Most of those interviewed focused on what the governor left out, not what he included.
Don't even get lifelong Virginian Steve Wannall started on the omissions: There was no widening of Route 7, or a wider Route 50; no improvements to other major feeders to the Beltway, he complained.
Standing in a corridor at Tysons Corner Center yesterday, pinstriped suit jacket over his shoulder, Wannall, 51, held forth on the plan for 10 minutes.
"I don't think it's enough, and the amount of spending is substantially less than needed," said Wannall, managing partner of a nearby accounting firm who had come to Tysons on an errand. "Everywhere you go in Northern Virginia it's a logjam. Between Cabin John [American Legion] bridge and the Wilson Bridge between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. is a mess."
A regional transportation panel has listed $11 billion in projects needed in Northern Virginia, and Wannall said he wouldn't mind paying higher taxes to get better transportation.
"I pay enough taxes now anyway," he said, "so what's a little more?"
For the first time, Gilmore is promoting the use of general tax revenue to help pay for transportation needs, beginning with a transfer of $200 million into a general transportation fund over the next two years and continuing with a contribution of $150 million a year in the future.
In addition, the governor is supporting the use of funds from different sources to pay for road and transit work. Improving gas tax collection would net an estimated $210 million over the next six years. Taking 40 percent of the money Virginia expects to receive from the settlement of the national lawsuit against cigarette manufacturers would bring in a projected $750 million.
Gilmore did not propose issuing bonds, a long-term funding source favored by many other states. That was an omission that concerned some commuters interviewed yesterday. Others said they thought Virginia's "pay-as-you-go" system has worked fine and should continue.
Jim Vann, who drives the Dulles Toll Road daily from Herndon, said he has no problem with the approach.
"I get a little nervous when you get too ambitious with bonds," said Vann, 43, an engineer. "I just have a feeling it's better to be conservative."
The idea of running Metrorail through Tysons continues to be a hit, but commuters yesterday wanted a pledge that outlying stations would provide plenty of parking spaces and frequent connecting bus service.
Twenty-somethings who commute from Washington to the Tysons area said they would use Metro if stops were convenient and service good.
"I was just talking with my co-workers yesterday about how we need something out here," said Alysa Ullman, 23, who works in marketing communications in Tysons. "I think there needs to be an alternative way to get here, and if it means increasing the gas tax 5 cents or 10 cents, I'd be willing to pay it."
Like many other recent college graduates, Ullman, who lives in Dupont Circle, said she made an honest attempt to commute by public transportation. But the schlep on buses and Metro took 1 1/2 hours.
The arrangement lasted three weeks. Now she's stuck in traffic like everyone else.
"People are like, 'Oh my God, you have a reverse commute,' " Ullman said. "But it's not any better."