U.S. Senate candidates Tim Kaine and George Allen have staked out widely different positions on hot-button issues like health care as they gear up for the 2012 campaign in Virginia.

But they're nearly eye-to-eye on the latest controversy in Northern Virginia -- the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

The state's 2006 decision to transfer authority of the Dulles Metrorail project to MWAA is now being re-examined after the board bucked state and local officials with its vote to build an underground station at Washington Dulles International Airport. That decision will cost local and state officials an extra $330 million for a project that has already suffered a series of setbacks and cost increases.

Kaine's administration authorized the transfer of power to the authority, but the idea originated with a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers, who believed at the time that the move would prove cost-effective and allow for better management of the project.

Indeed, when Kaine actually made the announcement in March 2006, he was supported by Allen and other Virginia Republicans, including Rep. Frank Wolf, who this week submitted legislation that would allow Virginia to take control of the authority.

Kaine and Allen now agree that the airports authority should heed the wishes of state and local officials who are paying for the project and who want a cheaper aboveground station at Dulles.

"Gov. Kaine continues to support the position of the local governments in Fairfax and Loudoun counties who have said this project will cost too much if built underground and urges the airport authorities to be responsive to their concerns," said spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine.

Allen applauded Wolf's proposal to give Virginia control of the authority.

"If elected as Virginia's U.S. senator, I will work with congressman Wolf and Gov. McDonnell to ensure that the MWAA board is more accountable and attuned to the views and interests of Northern Virginians," he said.

Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of communication at George Mason University, said that as pressure mounts on MWAA to reverse its decision, the issue could be resolved long before the 2012 election.

"If this goes on a lot longer," he said, "there's going to be some serious litigation and disappointment about this more expensive approach."