By MATTHEW BARAKAT Associated Press
3 Aug 01
It was only a matter of time before politicians began
courting the slug vote.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark L. Earley made his
pitch yesterday morning, picking up a pair of
"slugs" from a Woodbridge park-and-ride lot and
driving them into Washington, D.C.
The slug line is a Northern Virginia phenomenon in which
commuters queue up at designated spots and hitch rides from
random strangers. That allows both the driver and the slugs to
take advantage of Interstate 95's high-occupancy vehicle, or
HOV, lanes, which can shave a half hour or more off the
morning commute into Washington.
Earley's aide did the driving while the candidate sat in
the back seat of his sport-utility vehicle and asked his slugs
what could be done to aid their commute.
Earley said the drive gave him a greater appreciation of
the region's traffic woes and an increased respect for the
slugs and their drivers.
"It's totally grass-roots organized, and it runs as
smooth as silk," Earley said.
In fact, when Earley asked his passengers what the state
could do to make life easier for slugs, he was essentially
told that the best thing the state could do was stay out of
"The system is in place," said Miles Stroman of
Woodbridge, who works at the Justice Department. "It runs
pretty well as it is."
Stroman did say slugs would benefit from an occasional
patrol of during the day of their commuter lots, which are
easy targets for thieves.
Politicians would be well-advised to pay attention to
slugs' concerns, said Ruth Griggs, a Prince William County
supervisor who joined Earley at the Woodbridge lot.
"There are 1,050 spaces in this lot, 850 spaces in the
commuter lot at Potomac Mills, 500 spaces at the old
Hechinger's store, and they all fill up," she said.
In fact, the Web site slug-line.com lists 28 slug stations
in Washington and Virginia. The morning stations are in
southern Fairfax County down to Fredericksburg, with the
Pentagon the most popular destination. In the afternoon,
returning slugs line up at spots in Washington and Arlington
As he zipped by cars in the regular lanes of northbound
I-95, Earley noted that the HOV lanes appeared to be
"We need to increase investment in new roads and mass
transit," Earley said. "But the other critical thing
is to get cars off the roads. Anything we can do to increase
participation in the slug lines would helps us achieve
Warner spokesman Mo Elleithee said that Earley, a former
attorney general, is in many ways responsible for the gridlock
that forces people to slug.
"There's no doubt that this administration, with
Governor Gilmore and Mark Earley, has made the problem
worse," he said. "Their mismanagement of VDOT
[Virginia Department of Transportation] borders on
Earley has been pushing his transportation agenda
aggressively in the last few days. He was in Norfolk yesterday
to tout an eight-point transportation plan that calls for an
additional $1.8 billion in spending over the next four years
on roads and mass transit.
Such an infusion would will help accelerate the region's
priority projects, including a third bridge-tunnel crossing
Hampton Roads, Earley said.