Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dulles Rail "Boondoggle"

Here's a blog post about the Dulles Rail Project from Wendell Cox, a visiting Fellow in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, and Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D., who is the Herbert and Joyce Morgan Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, that talks about the Dulles Rail "boondoggle" that the authors say has exposed flaws in federal transportation policy.

According to the authors, "Among the 85 largest metropolitan areas in the country, the Washington, D.C., region has the distinction of having the seventh-worst traffic congestion in the nation, as measured by the Texas Transportation Institute in its most recent annual report on urban mobility."

However, the authors are not supportive of the Dulles Rail project.

"Having already squandered vast sums of tax dollars, many of these same bureaucracies, along with their supporters in the business and environmental communities, are now pushing aggressively for the biggest boondoggle of them all: the Dulles rail extension project, which would add 11.6 miles of new rail line to link downtown Washington with the Dulles airport in distant Loudoun County."

"Estimated to cost $5.1 billion, the new rail line is strongly supported by the region's elected officials and business community despite the project's own estimates that show it would do little to relieve congestion, pollution, or energy use in the corridor where it would operate, let alone in the region as a whole."

"Congress and the Administration should deny the project federal funding."

Further, the writers note, "... a large part the metropolitan area's congestion problem stems from the mismanagement of the region's transportation system by a collection of duplicative bureaucracies, which now includes three state Departments of Transportation (DOT), one federal DOT, freelancing members of the U.S. Congress and their staffs, a metropolitan planning organization, a new regional transportation authority recently empowered to raise taxes, a dozen or so counties and cities, and a meddlesome business community that supports wasteful transportation schemes that promise lucrative real estate development opportunities but little congestion relief, of which the Dulles rail extension proposal is a prime example."

So what are Cox and Utt's conclusion?
"Whatever the reasons for the leadership's involvement, and however the project fares in its quest for taxpayer support, the Dulles rail project has exposed the counterproductive political process that surrounds the nation's transportation policymaking, especially when Congress gets involved. For these reasons, devolving the federal transportation program - and the responsibility for funding it - back to the states should be a high priority for the next Administration and Congress."

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