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    Del. Greason calls Rail to Dulles a ‘pet project’

    State Del. Tag Greason (R-32nd) called Metro’s Silver Line extension to the Dulles airport and into Loudoun County, widely seen as one of the most significant infrastructure and transportation initiatives in the country, a “pet project” Friday at a Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce PolicyMakers event.

    Speaking directly to a question about the Silver Line project, often called Rail to Dulles, Greason bemoaned the actions of his colleagues who “held hostage” the state budget in the 2012 session for a specific “pet project” in their region. Greason said this was the “worst practice” legislators could get into.

    “Because I guarantee you next year someone else is going to have their pet project that is going to cause them to hold the budget hostage and we will quickly become Washington D.C.,” Greason said. “And that is the worst thing we can possibly do.”

    Greason, who represents a large portion of Ashburn, where two Metro stations are expected to be located, said, “If we continue to go down a path in Virginia of saying, ‘I want my pet project for my individual region buried into the budget and I won’t vote for education or health care or medicaid or anything else unless my pet project gets funded,’ I think that is irresponsible.”

    The local delegate said the commonwealth transportation board is the appropriate mechanism through which major transportation projects should receive funding consideration.

    The $5.6 billion Rail to Dulles project is being paid for by the commonwealth of Virginia, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), the federal Department of Transportation and Loudoun and Fairfax counties. Rates along the MWAA-operated Dulles Toll Road are expected to double over the next decade to help pay the authority’s share.

    During Gov. Tim Kaine’s term, the Silver Line extension was split into two phases to help get the project off the drawing board. Phase One of the track, running through Tyson’s Corner and into Reston, is expected to be completed in 2013 or 2014, while Phase two, extending track into eastern Loudoun County’s Ashburn, is expected to finished around 2018.

    Given the infrastructure project’s proximity to the nation’s capital and a major international airport, a number of elected officials—notably those in the heavily-congested Northern Virginia—have called for more state and federal dollars to be allocated to the construction costs.

    Late in the General Assembly’s 2012 special session to finalize the budget, Northern Virginia Democrats, including Sen. Mark Herring (D-33rd) and Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st), pushed the state for more funding for Phase Two. Herring proposed a state budget amendment calling for an additional $500 million for Dulles rail.

    But Gov. McDonnell objected to more state funds and the commonwealth’s contribution remained at $150 million.

    Commenting at Friday’s event, Del. David Ramadan (R-87th) called Dulles rail “probably the most important economic development project in our area.”

    “Plus it’s probably the most important transportation project we’ll see in our time,” Ramadan said, adding that he’s optimistic more state funds for the project will become available.

    A spokesman for Herring’s office, Adam Zuckerman, said the senator would “strongly disagree with the characterization” of Dulles rail as a “pet project.”

    “Sen.  Herring has said repeatedly that Rail to Dulles is a project of great local, state and national significance,” Zuckerman said. “That is why he has fought so hard to secure significant additional state funding for Phase Two in order that the project is completed and to keep tolls at a reasonable rate for Dulles Toll Road users.”

     

    Comments

    Loudoun….you can’t imagine a politician actually giving up a revenue source, now can you? They’re addicted to the trough!


    The Dulles Toll Road, according to the promises of our politicians, would be a free road after its debts to build it were paid off circa 2005.

    Did that happen?  Nope.  Then-governor tim Kaine thought it was a better idea to break the promise and then lease the DTR to MWAA for 50 years, in part to pay for the Silver Line.  THAT WAS A MULTI BILLION DOLLAR TRANSFER from the citizens of Virginia to MWAA.  Toll revenues from that transfer are $17B over the life of the agreement.  And then they have the audacity to come back and ask for more money.  How much more stinking money do you need!?!?!

    Metro is a money sucking leach.  Phase I will happen.  Phase II…not so much.  Already the Funding Agreement is crumbling.


    One clarification: You say “Rates along the MWAA-operated Dulles Toll Road are expected to double over the next decade to help pay the authority’s share.”

    MWAA actually planned to double the tolls Jan. 1, 2013, but the $150 million from the governor allowed them to hide those costs, so the tolls will increase gradually and won’t double to $4.50 one-way for another two years, until Jan. 1, 2015…

    Within the next decade, by Jan. 1, 2023, MWAA projects tolls will be up to $8.75 one-way ($17.50 round-trip). They project this will reduce Toll Road traffic by 25%, forcing more cars onto local roads, even as our population continues to expand.


    This is the most sigificant trasportation project because it will take the rest of most of our lives to pay for it so you are right on that account Mr. Ramadan. The people holding other projects up because of their pet project are political terrorists and we not negotiate with them. Excoriate them publicly and in the press and get rid of the pork, tit for tat, you vote for my project I will vote for your project. Herring failed and with good reason why should the state pay the MWAA to keep toll rates down when the toll road already makes money, 90 million in 2011. They are entitled to a return on their investment but not to a blank check written and signed by the Board of Spending.


    Good summary Trevor.
    Del. Ramadan is probably the only person in the universe who really believes the nonsense about the Dulles rail being important to anyone other than developers.
    $6 billion for no congestion relief is what the studies concluded. END OF STORY. Dulles rail doesn’t remedy traffic congestion and, indeed, triggers more development that, in turn, increases traffic congestion and causes a need for more road and non-rail transit improvements that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars more.
    Hopefully Del Ramadan will change his mind and not promote the waste of taxpayer dollars and countless billions in toll revenue to promote enrich the insiders who have been such generous contributors to campaign funds.
    If WMATA and MWAA, the DC-area transit and airport authorities want to extend the DC Metro train system out to Dulles Airport. That’s fine. It’s their prerogative, but please don’t drag down the people who drive on the Dulles Toll Road and Virginia tax payers to pay for it. 
    “pet project”...yep and one mutt of a pet at that!


    Del. Ramadan is probably the only person in the universe who really believes the nonsense about the Dulles rail being important to anyone other than developers.
    $6 billion for no congestion relief is what the studies concluded. END OF STORY. Dulles rail doesn’t remedy traffic congestion and, indeed, triggers more development that, in turn, increases traffic congestion and causes a need for more road and non-rail transit improvements that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars more.
    Hopefully Del Ramadan will change his mind and not promote the waste of taxpayer dollars and countless billions in toll revenue to promote enrich the insiders who have been such generous contributors to campaign funds.
    If WMATA and MWAA, the DC-area transit and airport authorities want to extend the DC Metro train system out to Dulles Airport. That’s fine. It’s their prerogative, but please don’t drag down the people who drive on the Dulles Toll Road and Virginia tax payers to pay for it. 
    “pet project”...yep and one mutt of a pet at that!

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