Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wednesday Media Coverage of Dulles Rail

Today's Washington Post reports on the business community's involvement in efforts to revitalize the Dulles Rail project.

"Last Friday, several of the region's chambers of commerce began to mobilize. They organized a news conference and brought in local employers, such as bottled water firm Elements H2O of Chantilly and Reston Hospital Center, to discuss how the proposed rail would improve the quality of life for workers in the Dulles corridor. More than 1,300 businesses, organizations and individuals have signed an online petition in support of a reevaluation of the project and beginning rail construction this year. Executives are writing letters to the FTA, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and lawmakers, raising awareness of traffic gridlock's strain on Northern Virginia's economy."

The Post article adds that "Local chambers are calling members asking them to step up, and employers are asking their congressmen to push for the project. The nonprofit Dulles Corridor Rail Association and the Washington Airports Task Force have placed three ads in Washington newspapers advocating the rail extension and listing its business supporters."

The Connection newspaper also follows the business involvement angle. The Connection story says that "despite the fact that 23 million passengers pass through this airport each year and some 20,000 people work there, no rail or high speed public bus serves Dulles. Realistic estimates hold that when the new section 'build out' is complete, the passenger totals will reach 55 million people annually."

"For the first time last week, a group of business leaders in western Fairfax and Loudoun counties held a news conference in Reston to shine a light on the strongest reason that the federal government - not Virginia - has an obligation to help build this rail system."

Yesterday's Fairfax Times meanwhile, reports that the "Dulles rail project sits in stasis, only sort of alive, while the region waits to see the effects of Gov. Tim Kaine's (D) letter to the federal Department of Transportation. The letter is the state's response to Federal Transit Administration concerns about the funding and structure of the current project. According to state officials and rail's congressional advocates, the letter is a starting point for the two sides to work together on approving the project."

The Times adds that Gov. Kaine's letter to the DOT was accompanied by an inches-thick sheaf of documentation, backing up a point-by-point response to the FTA's criticism of the project, but involved few changes from the original plan derided by FTA Administrator James Simpson two weeks ago.

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