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Va. Transportation Secretary hints at federal funds for Dulles rail

Securing federal funds for the second phase of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project looks “very promising,” Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton said Tuesday.

“We’re working with [the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA)] and [Loudoun and Fairfax] counties on the TIFIA loan. We think that looks very, very promising,” Connaughton said at a Dulles Area Transportation Association (DATA) event in Herndon. “Also, we’re looking at some options at the state level about the opportunity we may have to put some additional money into the project.”

The TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) program provides federal credit assistance through direct loans, loan guarantees and standby lines of credit to help finance transportation projects of national and regional significance.

Members of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and state and federal officials have previously mentioned the possibility of TIFIA funding for Dulles rail, but Connaughton’s comments Tuesday were arguably the strongest indication the federal dollars will be allocated to the $5.5 billion infrastructure project.

Phase two of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, often called Dulles rail, will extend Metro service to the Dulles airport and into Loudoun County. The Loudoun Board of Supervisors reaffirmed the county’s commitment to Dulles rail by a 5-4 vote in July.

MWAA, which operates the D.C. area’s two major airports, is overseeing construction of the project.

In October, Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet, along with MWAA President Jack Potter and Fairfax County Administrator Edward Long, co-signed a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood requesting TIFIA loan consideration for Dulles rail.

“The project represents a broad-based investment by business, federal, state and local partners,” the letter states,  “with regional business partners participating in public-private partnerships, the federal government designating the Dulles Corridor right-of-way and providing $900 million in New Starts program funding, the Commonwealth of Virginia contributing $275 million, and the local funding partners of the Airports Authority, Fairfax and Loudoun Counties funding the remaining $4.8 billion, or 80 percent, of the $6.0 billion capital cost of the Project.

“This $4.8 billion in funding will be derived from local Dulles Toll Road users, Airports users and county property taxpayers. The $4.8 billion is an extraordinary local commitment for a major project of national significance with widespread public benefits,” the letter states.

Loudoun Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run), who attended the DATA event, expressed optimism the federal funds would come through. While noting it was too early to determine whether the TIFIA loan would indeed come to fruition, Williams said LaHood and Connaughton have shown a keen interest in the Dulles rail project.

Any federal money, Williams said, could go a long way in helping pay down the tolls along the Dulles Toll Road, which are expected to rise to help fund Dulles rail construction.

TIFIA funding would allow the “Airports Authority to better leverage the Dulles Toll Road revenues, thereby enabling a substantial reduction in projected toll rates,” the letter from Hemstreet, Long and Potter states.


What isn’t being reported, is that the “MAP-29” funding to support Tifia loans this year, was reduced - in mid September 2012.  (The so-called ‘news media’ has been very co-operative in not reporting that, too.)  So:

1) The dollar figures that we heard a few months ago from Gerry Connolly will not be forthcoming, and

2) The people who pretend otherwise are LYING.

People - do yourselves a favor.  Send your so-called ‘leaders’ a message - tell them to call out the cost estimators for the Dulles Rail job, and have them justify their sky-high cost estimates that brought on sky high prices for Phase I, and and are bringing on yet more sky high prices now for Phase II.  And the finance plans to pay for this are as bogus as the mortgage fiasco that crashed the world economy in 2008 - what will happen is:

1) Tolls will jump and then skyrocket, pushing tens of thousands of cars off the Dulles Toll Road and onto local roads,

2) The local roads wll be jammed like you have never seen them jammed (gee, and I thought this rail project was supposed to REDUCE congesion), and

3) This will HURT!  So people will SCREAM, and

4) Then our so-called ‘leaders’ will roll out their real plan, which is to borrow a load of money “to pay down the tolls” - and (what a SURPRISE!!!) these loans will be paid by TAXPAYERS!  (Uh, that’s YOU, folks.)

That’s when those so-called ‘leaders’ will pick up the script from late 2010, and say (all together, on cue) “OH, AIN’T IT AWFUL, well you have to UNDERSTAND, There’s Nothing We Can Do, we have to hit TAXPAYERS for all of that toll money.”  And then they will stop, and smile.

Later, you will discover that they didn’t reduce the tolls very much, they just stopped raising them so fast.  And then you will get your next tax bill.

Wake up, people.  Please?  Wake up.  Do you really think businesses want to come to a clown circus like that?

I always thought that it was intended that the Virginia Supreme Court would have rejected the use of tolls back in late 2010.  Then our so-called ‘leaders’ would have been able to say “Oh, ain’t it awful, well you have to UNDERSTAND, There’s Nothing We Can Do, we have to hit TAXPAYERS for all of that toll money.”  And then they would stop, and smile.

But instead, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the use of tolls in late 2010.

Ever since then, Dulles Rail has been a total circus sideshow.  But if some other court decision can back them up, our so-called ‘leaders’ will be more than happy to dump Billions of dollars of cost onto the backs of their taxpayers (uh… that’s us, folks).

The absurdity of all of this is that the underlying cost of the Dulles Rail / Silver Line project is never examined.  Do a web search on ’ The excessive pricing of the Dulles Rail - Silver Line project ‘, read the article, and see for yourself.

The latest US DOT audit report, released on November 1, 2012, was not specifically about Dulles Rail, it wa about MWAA management in general.  It shows MWWAA happily funneling contracts to a mysterious “Contractor A” that charged - ready? - 1.3 to 3.3 times as much as other contractors, for the same work.  That’s not a typo - 1.3 to 3.3 times as much!

With MWAA controlling the Dulles Rail / Silver Line project in near-total secrecy, is it really so hard to believe that the entire project could cost two times what it should?  Please, let’s call MWAA’s cost estimators out, to explain their remarkably high estimateds to a Congressional committee!  While we’re at it, let’s call in the FTA’s cost estimators as well!  Their July 3, 2011 estimates for this project were pretty high too.

One small thing - the US DOT audit of the Dulles Rail project per-se, was announced on March 15, 2012, not in May 2012.  The US DOT audit announced on March 15, 2012 is specifically about oversight of the Dulles Rail Phase II project - yet strangely, it has NEVER even been mentioned in the news.  I wonder why.  Don’t you?

MWAA needs to have CEO Potter, Chairman Curto and Vice Chairman Davis resign for the good of the Authority. Congress showed these three individuals were all directly involved in the violations in the recent IG report.  Chairman Curto was asked by one member of Congress if he should resign.  He said no.  How can LaHood provide more funding if this cast of characters is still in place?  The new Virginia Board members need to ask for all of them to resign for the good of the Authority.  I also do not see our elected officials saying anything all of a sudden. Why?

The Goverment will siphon off of the cash for their own use. Do not worry, Gov Bob, will get his cut throught licencing fees from all of the people that lost their lcenses taken from violations in another states, and make them comply or they do not get to drive again. Sean, Bobs right hand man will make it so!

I hope all the people that voted for stupid Kaine use the toll road because you deserve to pay for your stupid mistakes.

Connaughton = Silver Tongued Fox

That makes alot of sense to wait until the poplutation density is met.  Thats exactly why there is so much traffic in the region.  Instead of being proactive and building for the future, we wait until its total gridlock to add infrastructure.  Prime example is route 50 and route 7.  never ending construction trying to catch up with the popluation density.

@Dan, thought Obama was all about giving money to build roads and fast rail, so if that’s so, why doesn’t the silver line fall into that category??? I still can’t believe people voted for Kaine since he gave the DTR to MWAA. Just shows more people are ok with corrupt organizations. Oh well, I’ll take my chances on the free rode since DTR was paid for many years ago.

The TIFIA loans are at a far lower interest rate than they can otherwise get in the private marketplace.  Using TIFIA loans could save hundreds of millions of dollars in interest payments.

Then they will have to raise more taxes on County residents - something I didn’t think an all-Republican board would want to be involved with.

They are talking about loans, not cash. Toll road users and property owners will still end up footing the bill. The rail project has never been demonstrated to be financially feasible or reduce congestion. The federal government refused to fund Phase 2 because even the Obama administration has standards for handing out money, and Dulles Rail fails to meet them.

Scrap phase 2 until the cash is built up, the population density requirements are met, and there is enough ridership to make it work.

MWAA corruption just got exposed in a USDOT IG report, another one focused on the rail project began in May, and the FBI is currently investigating them too. Enough already!

What happens if the Federal Circuit issues a decision in Corr v. MWAA declaring that MWAA cannot collect tolls to pay for the rail project?

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