Two divergent views on the region's transportation needs have highlighted the debate in the Virginia House of Delegates race for the 46th District.
In one corner is veteran Del. Brian J. Moran (D), who is chairman of the House Democratic caucus and is seeking his sixth term while touring the state to campaign for other Democrats.
He thinks his district -- most of the western part of Alexandria, plus the Skyline area of Fairfax County -- needs more money for public transportation.
Republican challenger Matthew A. "Matt" Mueda is a relative newcomer to politics who has sought to keep the debate focused on the region's transportation problems. He argues that wider roads are part of the solution.
Both men agree that transportation is a primary concern for area voters. According to one study, the Washington area has the third-worst traffic congestion in the country (behind Los Angeles and San Francisco), and Washington-area residents spend an average of 69 hours a year in traffic jams. Traffic volume in Alexandria has grown about 5 percent over the last five years and is expected to continue growing, said Tom Culpepper, deputy director of Alexandria's Department of Transportation & Environmental services.
Although Mueda supports such Republican proposals as a cap on property taxes, his political signs tout his main agenda: "Matt Mueda: For Traffic Solutions." He supports widening Interstate 95 and Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway -- concepts that still await funding and could face major political challenges -- and creating high-occupancy toll lanes for carpoolers and motorists willing to pay a toll to drive alone in less congested lanes.
"My concern is for this area, because there is a lack of any sort of a plan" to address traffic congestion, Mueda said. "My opponent is Democratic caucus leader, but he hasn't done anything for traffic problems around here."
Moran counters that what Alexandria residents need and want is more money for public transit.
"It goes to show his lack of knowledge of the transportation problems here," Moran said. "In Alexandria we can't build more roads. We need to improve the public transportation system. We're a densely populated jurisdiction. The answer is not more pavement. . . . It's planning and public transportation."
Moran, 46, cited last year's state budget deal, which polls show was popular with voters, as his party's "singular achievement" over the last four years. The budget agreement, which required the approval of both chambers of the Republican-controlled General Assembly as well as Gov. Mark R. Warner's signature, raised some taxes to finance $1.5 billion in additional spending on education, health care and other services over two years. Moran also sponsored legislation to encourage telecommuting for state employees.
Moran, a lawyer, is married and the father of two and lives in Alexandria's West End.
Mueda, 38, who also lives in the city's West End, was a Republican presidential appointee to the Department of Health and Human Services in the early 1990s and in the current Bush administration served in the U.S. Department of Transportation until 2003. Between Republican administrations, he worked as a Fairfax County firefighter. Divorced with two children, he is now a real estate broker in Alexandria.
Last year, Mueda vied with three other Republican candidates in a primary to challenge Moran's brother, U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D), in Virginia's 8th Congressional District. Mueda placed fourth in that primary.