Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Metrorail Project Update from Blue Ridge District Supervisor Janet Clarke

Here's an update on the Metrorail project from Blue Ridge District Supervisor Janet Clarke, from her March "Blue Ridge Community Connection" email newsletter.

Metrorail's Silver Line is scheduled to come to Loudoun County with stations planned at Dulles International Airport, Route 606 (Loudoun County Parkway), and Route 772 (Ryan Rd.).  The Board of Supervisors has yet to decide whether or not to contribute funding for this effort. The 90 day opt-out period for Metrorail started on March 6th via a letter from Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) just as we started working on the all-consuming budget deliberations.  During the opt-out period, Loudoun County can choose to opt out of the proposed Metrorail extension or choose to help fund the extension of the Silver Line into Loudoun County. Because of this unfortunate timing, we had much less time to spend to review this project than is needed to make a truly informed decision.  I made a motion to request a 30-day extension to the original, 90-day deadline, which the Board passed.  The request was made to MWAA and we just received word that the extension was approved.  Now we will have more time to really sink our teeth into this important issue and receive more public input! The decision date is now set for July 4, 2012.

The Dulles Rail Project is obviously a huge financial commitment for the taxpayers of Loudoun County. We are working with staff to determine whether or not this project will fit it in the county budget in the succeeding years and what the true tax and toll road implications will be. We are also waiting to receive all the facts and figures concerning the costs and benefits of the project from MWAA, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and county staff.  Additionally, there is a problem with the MWAA Project Labor Agreement (PLA) language that incentivizes the use of unionized labor and puts Virginia contractors at a disadvantage in a right-to-work state. The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, Loudoun's Delegates to the General Assembly, and Congressman Frank Wolf have all made it abundantly clear that we do not want a mandatory PLA in the construction of Metrorail. Unfortunately, although some of the language has been changed, there is still a 10% credit given to contractors on their technical evaluation scores if they use unionized labor.

Proponents of rail to Loudoun argue that this transportation project will spur economic development by attracting businesses to Loudoun County; thereby creating more jobs and broadening the tax base which will relieve the tax burden on homeowners and improve the overall quality of life.  Proponents of opting out of Metrorail argue that the project will be too expensive, raise taxes and tolls, and is just not needed.  Based on a recent MWAA study, it appears that the cost of using the toll roads will go up regardless of whether Loudoun County opts in or out of Metro. This disturbs me greatly as it will price many commuters out of using the toll road and will cause even more traffic congestion in Loudoun.

Thank you to those who have weighed in on this issue thus far.  I have been watching the responses to my online survey and have been listening to your feedback on this issue in the community. I will be issuing a separate Metrorail newsletter when I have obtained all the information. The Metrorail-focused newsletter will also provide links to documents and an additional opportunity for you to weigh in on Metrorail.

Please voice your opinion on this issue by filling out my Metrorail survey.

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1 comment:

  1. As a regular (5-9/week) toll road user and long-time Loudoun resident I am all for Loudoun contributing their fair share of this much needed project. Good properly paid union labor sure won't hurt your tax base and usually provides better quality work than the alternative (just look at some of Metro's current problems using cheap non-union escalator contractors to save a quick buck during construction). Do it right when you build it, it'll cost less to maintain in the future.
    But then what would politicians complain about in future elections to make it seem like they cared about expenditures ;-)