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    Loudoun chamber spearheading Metrorail advocacy

    Playing the role of “Rail to Dulles” lobbyist, the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce is leading the charge to encourage Loudoun’s business community to voice support for Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

    “It rail doesn’t come out to Loudoun County, we are talking a generational negative impact,” Tony Howard, president of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, said. “If we really want to achieve our economic development dreams, we need to have rail here.”

    The second phase of the Dulles Rail project will extend the system westward into Loudoun County and “provide a one-seat, no-transfer ride from Dulles Airport to downtown Washington,” according to DullesMetro.com.

    Latest cost estimates for the total project are approximately $2.8 billion.

    Preliminary engineering is ongoing for Phase 2, the result of which may lead to the preparation of a design-build construction solicitation for Phase 2.

    The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors are likely to vote in April or May whether to provide a share of funding for Phase 2. Other funding will come from Fairfax County, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and state and federal loans.

    Ted Lewis, a member of the Loudoun County Economic Development Commission and part owner of GeoConcepts Engineering, says the pro-rail campaign is largely to ensure people “don’t take for granted” that rail will get to Loudoun.

    “While I’m confident the supervisors will make the right choice,” Lewis said, “there’s still a need to make sure the information’s out there and that people see the benefits of having rail in Loudoun.”

    Lewis said he favors rail so his employees have better access to get to work.

    “We have about 50 people [at GeoConcepts], and only eight of them live in Loudoun,” said Lewis. “Rail will let them get here easier.”

    Howard and the Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership, which includes the Dulles Regional, Greater Reston and Loudoun County chambers of commerce, are supporting legislation in the General Assembly to increase the commonwealth’s contribution to the project.

    The amendment would increase the state’s contribution by up to $500 million, which will reduce the amount of the project that will be paid by Dulles Toll Road users, according to Howard. Preliminary estimates have said toll road users could pay as high as $10.75 by 2020 for a one-way trip on the road to pay for Phase 2.

    Currently, the state is proposing a $150 million contribution toward the project.

    Howard also ties a social aspect into the argument for Rail to Dulles and Loudoun, saying young professionals would be more attracted to Loudoun with a metro nearby.

    “All the plans, especially in eastern Loudoun – and I argue in western Loudoun, as well – have been built around the notion that rail is coming,” Howard said.

    The chamber CEO dismisses the prospect of there not being enough metro riders in Dulles and Loudoun.

    “The biggest issue the metro has had has to do with the fact that there’s so much demand,” Howard said. “Metro’s not under-utilized.”

    Comments

    If phase II goes through, I think the Loudoun residents should start a grassroots task force to follow the money flowing from all the stakeholders that will gain from it and see if they how they are connected to the BOS members that vote for this.

    It’s clearly a boondoggle waiting to happen.  I hope that the members are just trying to keep on the fence until they ultimately vote against it.


    How to stop the lunacy is the question I ask. It’s expensive the demographics do not support it here in Loudoun. I don’ care if Geo-whatever can get to work eaiser. Let them move closer or find a job closer to where they live. Eastern Loudoun and Western Loudoun have been built on a notion? A notion that rail will come here, see what’s in the other hand and which one fills up faster A Notion, oh please! Let the Chamber impose taxes on the Companies that will benefit from rail and then show me their support in dollars and cents!


    The chairman of the Chamber of Commerce is on a roll—$20 million from Loudoun taxpayers as TARP money for his employer, Oxford Communities/National Conference Center. And now rail in hopes that maybe someone will want to stay there. The federal government is about all they have left right now.


    burndude there is all the numbers in the world in this posting If you care to look at them before spouting gibberish it would be welcome.


    This looks more like a paid advertisement than a news story. At least give the opposing views just a little coverage. Please.


    @stayoutofthe…
    What’s yiour point?  Is $51M too much to spend on that, is that what you’re saying?  Are you so familiar with the Metro infrastructure that you can argue that point?  Can you enlighten us on your knowledge please? 

    I’m not arguing against your point, but would appreciate some facts and information as opposed to an article saying they’re spending part of their budget on consultants.


    http://www.wtop.com/?nid=41&sid=2745499

    This is exactly what Loudoun taxpayers want to be a part of right?  Loudoun should steer clear of this dysfunctional organization.


    Crunch the numbers and you come up with a gienormus waste. Huge cost per rider, don’t get caught up inpoopla it’s a money grab.


    Great points Bob about the costs.  I guess that is what you get when MWAA decides to hand the whole project over to “Big Dig” Betchel without competitive bidding.  How does anyone find that acceptable?  Why aren’t the so-called conservatives who tout free markets and competition up in arms about that?  Instead all they worry about is unions.  I guess inflated costs are fine as long as they are providing bonuses for Betchel execs instead of a $5/hr more for the guy welding.   

    I don’t get why commuter rail here is such a disaster.  NY, NJ, and CT are a world ahead of No.VA when it comes to commuting services and it is cheaper.  A monthly pass on the Metro North line is $266 and that will take you from your suburban community 35 miles outside of Manhattan to Grand Central Station in an hour.  Why can’t this be duplicated in Virginia?  You don’t even need cooperation from Maryland or DC to make a lot of strides and you can do it without getting tied into that train wreck (somewhat of a pun) known as Metro.

    I’m not against rail, but I am against Part 2 of the Silver Line as it is presented today.  It is too expensive, poorly planned, and has very little utility for probably half of the areas’s commuters.


    Am I to believe that businessmen would pay two times what their building should cost in any comparable area?  And then when they contracted for a parking lot for their overpriced building, am I to believe that they would pay 170% of what it would cost in any comparable place?  Am I to believe that they would not do some price checking?  ESPECIALLY after the kind of sticker-shock that we got on this Dulles Rail fiasco.

    You know, at $83 million, the Phase II Rt 28 station costs almost two times what a comparable station cost in Fairfield, Connecticut - a very nice suburb of New York City.  And at $26,394 per space, the Phase II parking garages cost 1.7 times the $15,000 per parking space national average.

    There is no justification for either of these price gouges, either.

    Mr. Howard says rail would be good for business… but does it have to cost nearly two times what it should?  Really, does he run his own business that way?  Does he pay two times what something is worth, simply because it would be good to have it?  I doubt that.  Come on now, we know what he does… he says NO!  And then he pushes back, and pays only a reasonable price.  And that is what WE should do also.


    @Not crying for Toll - Wow, you are so off the mark.  You do realize Metro will actually bring benefits to the residents, right?  That it’s not just for the businesses?  “Loudoun Valley Estates and Brambleton all seem to be doing fine without a Metro station down the road.”  So by your logic, if something is currently “doing fine” we just shouldn’t bother ever doing anything else to improve the area?  You speak in generalities without any concrete argument.


    Yeah, Lobster Claw.  You are right.  We should commit to funding the past failures of Metro, one of the most incompetent organizations I’ve ever observed, just so Toll Brothers can make their money on Moorefield Station.  I’m sure they planned for the no-Metro alternative when they figured out if it would make money.  I mean Loudoun Valley Estates and Brambleton all seem to be doing fine without a Metro station down the road.


    Frankly, I find it difficult to believe that neither the FTA, nor any of these ‘leaders’, nor their assistants or their analysis staff, nor the pro-Dulles Rail cheerleaders we keep seing, have noticed (or care about) the remarkable excesses in the costs associated with Dulles Rail Phase II.  The Rt 28 station costs just about two times what it should, and all of the parking garages for Phase II are AT LEAST 70% overpriced.  Do we really need to pay two times what this is worth, with money that we don’t have, in order to have a slow little local rail line that takes a really long time to get from Point A to Point B?

    Over and above the excessive price tags that somebody put on the Dulles Rail Phase II line items, Robert Clarke Brown (one of MWAA’s own board members) says that the loop of track at Dulles Airport is wasteful, Dulles Toll Road tolls are heading for the stratosphere, and the Reston Citizens Association is raising a loud alarm over the Phase II financial planning.

    I submit that what we have in Dulles Rail Phase II, is a badly planned project, with outrageously excessive per-item costs, that is being very badly financed. We have known for years that federal funding would be thin or nonexistant for this project - so why have our ‘leaders’ so readily accepted massively excessive charges in it, why are they so willing to saddle us with large recurring expenses for it, and why are they ignoring obvious warning signs in the financial planning for it? The ‘leaders’ who have ignored these project failings, and who are pushing this monstrosity onto us anyway, need to explain themseves immediately.  No?


    The only people who will use this are the ones it attracks to live in the pack’em stack’em highrises to be built at the stations. It is not worth going into debt to make this pay-off to Eric Wells and co. and other big land owners and big campaign donors.

    Fairfax did just fine without rail. This is an albatross and a waste of our money and our children’s money.


    The taxpayer should already be scorned. The school budget, redskins park, the substation, Ashburn post office,...


    It’s narrow-minded to simply be against Metro coming here because you think it’s too expensive.  There are two sides to every coin.  Yes it costs a lot, but many of you have completely neglected the positive impact it will bring to Loudoun.  I suppose you want the county to go on forever without any business tax base?  Should we just destine Loudoun Station and Moorefield Station to be failures?  Should we chop off an opportunity to make our future George Mason campus successful by allowing students to commute by rail?  Our home price increases will more than make up for any additional taxes.  It will help our businesses thrive (many of the owners live here too).  It will help us become a legitimate contender for major corporate relocations.

    And I’m so sick of hearing people whine about the length of time the commute will take to DC.  THERE ARE MORE JOBS IN THIS AREA THAN JUST IN DC!  Have you heard of a little place called Tyson’s Corner? “It contains a quarter of county’s total office space inventory, which totaled 105,200,000 square feet (9,770,000 m2) at year-end 2006, which is about the size of Lower Manhattan. It is the COUNTRY’S 12th-largest business district, and is expected to grow substantially in the decades to come.”  And last I checked, aren’t there jobs in Reston, Herndon, Falls Church, Arlington, and Alexandria?

    I could care less about using Metro to get into DC other than the occasional weekend trip.  If I’m going to use it to commute, it will most likely be to one of the countless jobs in Fairfax County, not DC.  So stop whining about how long the ride will be to DC.  It’s not the end-all-be-all.


    First….get your damn signs out of the ROW on Route 7 in Ashburn.

    Second…Metro is so poorly run now it will not get better by having it extend to Ashburn.  The maintenance costs alone on top of what they are already experiencing in the current day (and can not get ahead of) will drag the system down. 

    Third….the ride down to DC will take freakin forever!  These are not express trains—-there are going to be lots of stops in between.  It already takes too long to go from the end of the Orange line into DC.  People are going to try it for awhile until they realize they can get there faster in their car.

    Finally….my kids won’t be paying for this because we keep telling them to find other parts of the country to live in and we’ll be leaving as soon as they are out of college.


    And tell me again why the PEC DEMOCRATS who have worked so hard to keep development out of Loudoun for so many years are now for this project to bring more people and more businesses to Loudoun?  They dont want to increase public water supply for the thousands of Loudouners still on wells and septic because it may increase development, but they want metro?? Very short-sighted on their part.


    Again, I guess everyone wants to pay for the last 25 years of terrible management at Metro.  Just think, so you can take a 2 hour train ride downtown and pay nearly $30 each way to do it, now the Loudoun County budget will get hit up by the incompetent Metro GM at the time for more funding to fix escalators in DC, that should have been fixed 10 years ago. 

    Oh boy, that is just what I want to pay for. 

    Try the Loudoun Commuter Bus.  It is inexpensive, parking is free, and you won’t stop at 20 different stations between Ashburn and the Reagan Building.

    I mean you if you people just like throwing money away, you can just write the check to me.


    If we pull out of the agreement, the Metro terminates at the airport.  Loudouners will have to drive another 2 miles to get there, but the won’t have any tax hikes to pay for it.  The best value propostion is to pull out and let Fairfax foot the bill for our convenience.


    Those Lowdown County people who want Metro have not ridden it lately. It is a mess…and the maintenance would only escalate over the years. Lowdown still has their head in the sand thinking that they are the next big business frontier. They are not…too many big “name” companies have already come here, looked around and settled elsewhere, not because of lack of Metro, but the simple fact, Lowdown County is just too far out. The sooner Lowdowners realize this and focus elsewhere, the better. Metro to Lowdown is a waste of money.


    Earth to business community…stop asking taxpayers to be your cash-cow

    If is so great then you pay for it.

    Wake up Loudoun and tell your supervisors to stop gambling with our tax dollars.

    Stop the payoffs to the developers.

    Stop trying to give train riders a free ride at the expense of Toll Road users.

    Loudoun Times please print something other than these promo press releases and do a meaningful article based on some reasearch. Maybe do a piece on how many 100’s of thousands of cash flowed from rail special interests to electeds campaign.


    Wow, Tony Howard you sure have done an about face since you wrote your letter to the editor of Leesburg Today on July 5th 2011.

    Tony said, “Given that 90 percent of Phase 2 of the Dulles Rail Project is funded by Virginia’s taxpayers, commuters and businesses, I can not fathom why a Loudoun Supervisor would support this type of discriminatory treatment against Virginia’s contractors and construction workers.”

    PLA is still in there.

    I guess when you and your community -minded chamber buds see a buck to be made the principles get tossed.

    You ought to be ashamed asking the BoS to invest in a project that received a fail grade as a transportation project and that will cost BILLIONS to bring in millions.

    Your double standard is a disgrace and would get you fired if you made that kind of recommendation in a business capacity.

    sorry to sugar coat the truth.


    Metro rail has so much to offer Loudoun…higher taxes, higher density and higher crime rates.  What’s not to like?


    It is a mystery to me why all of our leaders and agencies, and all of their accountants and analysts, did not notice that in line item after line item, the costs in Dulles Rail Phase II are about twice what would be expected, based on recent similar work in similar areas.

    Shouldn’t the Chamber of Commerce be concerned about this too?

    Consider the following three comparisons.


    COMPARISON 1: THE FRANCONIA-SPRINGFIELD METRO EXTENSION

    Dulles Rail Phase II is about five times the size of the Franconia-Springfield Metro job, but it costs 17 times as much.

    Franconia-Springfield: 3.3 miles of track and a station - $175 million in 1997.

    Dulles Rail Phase II: 11.6 miles of track and six stations - over $3 billion in 2012.

    Could this 3.5 to 1 discrepancy be a result of inflation, when the construction industry is depressed? No. Here is Comparison 2 to show that inflation does not account for this 3.5 to 1 bloat.


    COMPARISON 2: THE FAIRFIELD, CONNECTICUT METRO STATION

    A metro station completed in December 2011 in posh Fairfield, Connecticut cost $43.7 million AFTER cost overruns, while our comparable Rt 28 station will supposedly cost $83 million. Can anybody tell me why our stations should cost two times as much?


    COMPARISON 3: THE DULLES RAIL PHASE II PARKING GARAGES

    Parking Garage Costs Transferred To Loudoun And Fairfax Counties
    Per July 3, 2011 FTA White Paper (See Page 4, bottom.)
    —————
    Herndon-Monroe: $51.4M, 1949 spaces ($26,372 per space)
    Rt 28: $53.5M, 2027 spaces ($26,392 per space)
    Rt 606: $51.9M, 1965 spaces ($26,412 per space)
    Rt 772 North: $37.8M, 1434 spaces ($26,359 per space)
    Rt 778 South: $40.6M, 1540 spaces ($26,363 per space)

    TOTAL: $235.3M, 8915 spaces ($26,394 per space)

    $26,394 per space is VERY much on the high side, exceeding even the costs in New York City! And the $20,326 per space cost in New York City is very much on the high side of the US national average cost. Think about it - Dulles Rail Phase II is not in a congested city, it is in a suburb. Our cost should be more like the US average of $15,000 per space, I think. No?


    CONCLUSION

    We are clearly being handed a $40 million overcharge for the Rt 28 station… so what about the other five stations - Reston Parkway, Herndon, Dulles Airport, Rt 606 and Rt 772? Should we not expect that they will cost $40 million too much, as well? We could easily have about $240 million of overcharge for the Dulles Rail Phase II stations.

    And it looks as though we are being overcharged by at least $101.6 million for the parking garages too.

    So even though our leaders claim to have been looking for costs that can be cut in this project, and even though the FTA came in and did the same thing, we have a definite $141 million overcharge that can easily be seen in these two items alone, and probably another $200 million overcharge from the other five stations in Dulles Rail Phase II.  I think it is very likely that the total does indeed equal or even exceed $340 million of overcharge for the stations and parking garages alone!

    These are not small errors, these are nearly two-to-one excesses!  So why did all of the official analysts miss this?  Did they even look at it at all?  And do our leaders not compare costs before accepting such incredibly expensive proposals?  What is going on here?  And what else will I find as I examine the rest of the line items?

    You know… if MWAA and FTA managed to overcharge us so much for THOSE things… maybe it’s time to ask what ELSE they did. I think it is time for a serious and official review and adjustment of the costs that MWAA and FTA are trying to force upon this region. Not another FTA whitewash, but a real review and adjustment. No?


    Ashburn will becomes the next Tysons Corner and those with homes in Ashburn will likely see their home values double.  That $500k home will soon be worth $1,000,000.


    Rail all the way to Ashburn, Baby!  Business growth around the Rail will build the commercial tax base for generations to come.  More commercial taxes means less residential.


    Having worked in the San Francisco area, and seen the impact of light rail (the BART System) and its effect on the development of the eastern bay area counties, Loudoun County would miss out on huge economic benefits and sources of tax revenues to defray the costs of schools, police, and other county services. Thank God the Chamber has the wisdom to acknowledge what a benefit this transportation extension would provide to its residents. The private sector will rise to the occasion with new and original forms of finance, so I do not agree with the notion that it will be a public tax burden on individuals. I support and cheer for the wisdom the County leaders are exhibiting.


    I’m looking forward to Metro service to Broadlands - overdue!


    I’m for the Metro, thank you


    What a waste of billions of dollars. We’ll be paying for this forever.  Our kids will be paying for it forever.  Our republican board of supervisors won’t be dumb enough to let the Chamber of Commerce stick their voters with the bill for this overpriced monstrosity.


    Metro to Dulles Airport is all we need in Loudoun. Save the rest of our money for something else, like lowering our taxes so we can invest that money into growing Loudoun’s economic base.


    I am sending this to my supervisor and BEGGING him to vote against it. I voted for republicans, my supervisor Clarke and York to LOWER taxes and LOWER spending, not to raise taxes for messes like this one.  We’ll be paying for this forever!  No thanks!


    Metro to Loudoun is going to cost Loudoun taxpayers big time.  The feds aren’t footing the bill on this one - it’s all on us.  Ready to see your taxes go up over $1,000 a family?  If you think taxes are high now, just you wait! 

    BoS please vote NO to Dulles Rail.


    Tony Howard is wrong, as is the entire Chamber if they think they can dictate economic policy to the BOS. They all have business interests and development contracts that will make them money if rail gets rammed through, so what do they care that the taxpayers get soaked? If the BOS passes this monstrosity let them be warned, he** has no fury like a taxpayer scorned.


    “The biggest issue the metro has had has to do with the fact that there’s so much demand,” Howard said. “Metro’s not under-utilized.”

    Except that ridership is expected to drop 3% on Metro this year and nobody at WMTA knows why.

    Try reading:

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/dc/2011/10/metro-forecasts-ridership-drop-rail-system/119882


    And, of course, the Chamber also endorsed a Metro tax for all of their businesses to pay for it.

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