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Area leaders vary on transportation, but agree Redskins stadium should go to Loudoun

{left to right} Moderator Bruce Potter, Arlington Board Vice Chair Jay Fisette (D), Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At-Large), Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova (D-At-Large), Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Corey Stewart (R-At-Large), Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg (D) at the Northern Virginia Regional Elected Leaders Summit. Times-Mirror Staff/Sydney Kashiwagi
As one of the most populous regions in Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area keeps getting bigger, Northern Virginia leaders from Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William, Arlington and Alexandria got together Aug. 31 for the first of its kind conversation about how to address some of the most important issues facing the region.

Speakers included Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At-Large), Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova (D-At-Large), Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Corey Stewart (R-At-Large), Arlington Board Vice Chair Jay Fisette (D) and Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg (D).

Transportation, creating economic growth, getting more money for Metro – and the possibility of bringing a Redskins stadium to Northern Virginia – were some of the main issues addressed during the discussion.

“I think we would all agree that congestion is still a major issue that we face in this region,” The event’s moderator Bruce Potter, chief operating officer of Northern Virginia Media Services, said to local leaders. “What is a transportation project that would connect or better connect your particular jurisdiction to the region or better connect the region as a whole?”

Bulova and Silberberg agreed the “next tunnel at Rosslyn” would help the whole region.

“Our region built up or grew up around the Metro system and additional space to get folks across the river through that tunnel I think is critical and it’s something that really not very many people are talking about,” Bulova said.

Chairwoman Randall admitted her idea to alleviate congestion was not a transportation project, but “the most obvious answer” – creating more jobs in Loudoun County.

“If I want to decrease traffic going into and out of Loudoun, the best thing I can do is have jobs in Loudoun County,” Randall said. “We really cannot divorce job growth from transportation, so although it’s not a transportation project, what we really want to do is find ways to incentivize businesses to come locate in our area and so that people can live where they work.”

Stewart said the region needed to focus on the transportation network already in place and prepare for the future – one likely to include a wave of autonomous smart cars.

“The reality is is that every major automotive corporation in the world and a lot of non-automotive makers such as Google and others are investing billions of dollars in smart automobile autonomous vehicles,” Stewart said. “We need to get prepared.”

Potter asked what the leaders thought about Metro’s future and how they thought the region could work together to have more Metro dollars go toward projects in Northern Virginia.

“In my view, the backbone of the region is the Metro system,” Fisette said, adding that if there was no Metro, “this region would be at a standstill.”

Randall focused on how for many people and their income is dependent on Metro.

“If I’m a single mother and I don’t have a car, Metro is my whole life, my economic viability from getting from place to place,” Randall said. “So some of us have the option of saying … it’s not that important. Well, if that’s how I get to work, it’s vitally important and it has to keep moving.”

Stewart warned it would be dangerous for the region to become “overly focused on Metro” when it should focus on its roads.
“There’s a danger in becoming overly focused on Metro, it is not the backbone, Metro’s not the backbone of Northern Virginia’s transportation system,” Stewart said.

Potter wrapped up the discussion by asking leaders if they would be interested in moving a Redskins stadium to their jurisdictions amid Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) recently saying the state was in serious negotiations in bringing it to Virginia.

“Yes, for Loudoun,” Fisette said, causing the audience to erupt in laughter.

Meanwhile, Bulova and Silberberg were quick to second Fisette’s lead.

“Umm…” Randall said nervously. “I think we’re not there in that conversation yet and I think the question is a little premature for me to be able to give an answer.”

“No way [for Prince William County]” Stewart replied.


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