The Washington Post is spotlighting several political issues that have been prominent during the 2005 campaign. All the issue articles will be available at www.washingtonpost.com/metro. Today's topic: transportation.

BACKGROUND Development in the urbanized parts of Virginia has overwhelmed the network of roads and rails. The Washington suburbs are among the most congested regions in the country. Improving the transportation network has long been a top issue for state government, but proposals for big solutions have not fared well because they involve raising billions of dollars from taxpayers.

THE DEBATE Republican Jerry W. Kilgore would allow regions to make their own planning and financing choices and would direct money from the state's general fund toward transportation. He promises to widen Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway and build another Potomac River crossing. Democrat Timothy M. Kaine says he would ensure that transportation funds are not diverted to other uses and would designate surplus state revenue for projects. H. Russell Potts Jr., who is running as an independent, pledges to call a special legislative session to focus on transportation and says he is willing to consider all funding sources.

THE RACE The winner of the Nov. 8 election will become Virginia's chief executive, managing the administrative branch of state government -- which includes the Virginia Department of Transportation -- presenting budgets to the General Assembly and reviewing bills it passes.