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Rail Group Asks MWAA to Drop PLA

Dulles Corridor Rail Association outlines reasons to go forward without project labor agreement.

The Dulles Corridor Rail Association sent a letter to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Association (MWAA) late last week asking that the project labor agreement (PLA) be dropped and outlining why the Silver Line Phase 2 must be completed as envisioned.

"We support efforts to stop the PLA preference and substitute language in the procurement process calling for effective management of workforce issues in a manner that conforms with right to work law of Virginia; and find new funding sources (federal, state and private) to explore alternative funding mechanisms to reduce financing costs and the burden on Dulles Toll Road users," wrote Del. Ken Plum (D-Reston), the chairman of DCRA, and Patricia Nicoson, the president of the group.

DCRA says completion of Phase 2, which will run from Reston's Wiehle Avenue to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County, is a project that is "nationally significant."

Phase 1, which will run from Tysons Corner to Wiehle Avenue, is more than 70 percent completed and on schedule to open in late 2013. Phase 2 remains in limbo as there are limited state funds available, no federal funding, and Loudoun County has indicated it may withdraw its support of the project. Loudoun Supervisors have until July 4 to make a decision.

There has also been backlash over the Phase 2 PLA.  In screening bids, MWAA wants to give a 10-percent bonus to contractors who agree to a project labor agreement.

"We urge the members of the Airports Authority to remove the divisive PLA incentive and to instead focus on providing the opportunity for firms interested in bidding on the project to demonstrate their willingness and ability to meet expectations for effective workforce management," the letter reads.

To read the entire letter, see the PDF attached to this article.

Meanwhile, the MWAA's Dulles Corridor Committee will meet on Wednesday as part of the MWAA Board meeting.  

Just the Facts May 16, 2012 at 02:12 AM
I never see a business reason for dropping the PLA. All I hear is a bunch of Republcans that ate unions. If it saves money on the project, why would we not want it? If its just a hate union thing, then that is not really responsible. The MWAA entire Board voted for it including all the republicans. So I would assume they all thought it was good for the project. All the Virginia representatives all voted for it. So who should we blame next?
Melvin Summers May 16, 2012 at 03:07 AM
It seems to me that if they are splitting the work between Union and Non-Union contractors now, that they should be able to keep moving forward with a similar arrangement. I think that when the Union is involved, workers get a safer work environment and that the likely hood of cutting corners to save money goes down, giving you a better finished product in the end. Compromise people :)
CC Mojo May 16, 2012 at 03:14 AM
"We urge the members of the Airports Authority to remove the divisive PLA incentive and to instead focus on providing the opportunity for firms interested in bidding on the project to demonstrate their willingness and ability to meet expectations for effective workforce management," the letter reads. How does that do anything but show corporate favoritism, which is just another way of unionizing labor through deeper pockets? The PLA has been effective in Phase I, and there isn't a reason to drop it now. This conservative fear is absolutely ridiculous, and its not only taking jobs away from the local community, but going a step further to delay this entire plan, or derail it entirely. How about those opposed come up with an argument that isn't based in fear and conjecture, and maybe one that benefits the actual people of Loudoun - not just the snobby elitists.
Melvin Summers May 16, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Terry, to be fair to the argument, you should have mentioned that same white paper says that the tolls - and not project-labor agreements - are the most important issue for the Silver Line. I've heard very few arguments that cry over the rising tolls, and if it comes down to those costs, people can go to that meeting on June 4th to get their 2 cents in, no pun intended
Melvin Summers May 16, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Bob, thanks for clearing up some of the rhetoric. The plan is great, and there's no reason for this smokescreen to stand in the way of Phase II. The Silver Line is coming to Loudoun, and everyone else can just stand back and eat crow.
TISH G May 16, 2012 at 03:49 AM
I'm not arguing points about the PLA or anything.. i just want it to happen. I think it will make traveling to DC with my kids much easier.. i can save our family car for the longer trips and vacations. I really do think it will be good for Loudoun in the long run. We have to look ahead decades into the future.. not just a few years. :o)
CC Mojo May 16, 2012 at 04:30 AM
No kidding. Keep it simple... we want the Rail!
Kadey Mackenzie May 16, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Absolutely! The metro is much better for the environment, not to mention more cost effective in the long run. We have to stop thinking about right now and start looking ahead to what is more beneficial to this area, what would be less taxing (no pun intended) on this area. Families have more time together, parents come home from work much less stressed out, you're not buying a car every 2 or 3 years because you've put so much mileage on it and never mind the regular maintenance on your car simply because there is more wear and tear on it. Don't even get me started on the gas prices and how much cost is going into your car just on that. I think it's great bringing the metro out here! It will make getting in and out of Loudoun easier. We are going to pay taxes whether we like it or not, the tolls are going to go up whether we like it or not, so let's at least have a good reason for it, something that will actually benefit the residents of Loudoun!
Bob Bruhns May 16, 2012 at 12:44 PM
The PLA, which MWAA morphed into a PLA Preference, is improper in Right To Work Virginia - but it is not the main reason for the $17 tolls. Somebody should make a projection of tolls with and without the PLA Preference, to illustrate this. The real problem is the bloated pricetag for this Dulles Rail Phase II, aka Rail To Loudoun, aka Silver Line project. This is being billed to us at TWO TIMES what it should cost, compared to other similar jobs. The reason this can be done is that people will believe what they are told, and will not use their heads. People, it is time to use your heads. This thing costs TWO TIMES what it should. This overcharge amounts to about $1.5 Billion Dollars, that - gee, what a surprise - a few people would like to collect and keep for themselves. Is it so hard to grasp that this is the reason why we have such a concerted effort to confuse the people of this region about the purpose of this rail line, about whether there should be an above or below ground rail station at the airport, about whether there should be a PLA or PLA Preference, about the double price for this job, about the $17 tolls and their source, and about the crazy projections of hundreds of billions of dollars gushing out of paychecks and office buildings because of it? We are headed toward another 1996 Dulles Greenway disaster here - a premature leap that will fail for economic reasons, resulting in an economic drain where an asset should have been. Use your heads.
Bob Bruhns May 16, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Get the cost of this thing down to earth. It costs two times what it should, and the fairy tales about hundreds of billions of dollars gushing out of paychecks and office buildings because of this little local rail lane are ridiculous - especially in Loudoun County, where people will still need either cars, or (gasp) BUS, to get to and from the two stations over on the east side of the county, where there is NO BUSINESS TAX DISTRICT IN THE RAIL STATION AREA for the real beneficiaries of Rail to Loudoun to pay a fair share for their huge windfall. Why am I the ONLY ONE to be talking about the double price of this job? We hear about fair distibution of the excessive cost, but we never hear about a fair price for the job! All we get is smokescreen after smokescreen that doesn't bring the price down to earth. What's up with that? This PLA Preference issue is more of the same - a trick to confuse people into thinking that the tolls will magically go down. The only way the tolls are going down is either Fairfax County and Loudoun County float Billion Dollar Bonds and pay this thing with our children's and grandchildren's life savings, or we get a handle on the two to one overcost of this job and bring it down to the actual going rate - which is ONE HALF of what this thing costs now.
Victoria Glenn May 16, 2012 at 01:30 PM
They have been talking about this for over 40 years...its time to get this done. It should have been done years ago. This is a fantastic place to live and the rail is only going to improve that. I can't wait to be able to take my kids into DC without having to worry about where we are going to park, or it taking forever to drive there.
Bob Bruhns May 16, 2012 at 01:32 PM
You might want to get the price down to earth, and demand that there be a business rail tax district in Loudoun County so that the real beneficiaries of Rail to Loudoun should pay a fair share for their unbelievable windfall. Otherwise this thing will cost you a lot more than you might think. Also, unless you live less than a quarter mile from one of the rail stations, you'll need a car, or (gasp!) BUS, to get to and from the rail stations. In Loudoun County, the stations are over on the east side of the County. (Maybe you shouldn't tell anybody in Leesburg, or Purcelville, or Round Hill, or Middleburg, or Trapp, or Lovettsville about that.)
Bob Bruhns May 16, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Well, it will take as long by rail as it does by car, because this is a local rail line that stops at every station, and has no express tracks. But right now, you can drive to Vienna, park in the big lot at the station there, and get to DC on the Orange Line. Next year you could drive to Wiehle Ave and park there, and take the Phase I Silver Line to DC. I'm not sure what the problem is.
Tom W May 16, 2012 at 01:50 PM
@Bob Bruhns - I would also add that we have decent frequent bus service today from Herndon - Monroe Park & Ride to West Falls Church during the week. Herndon Monroe even has direct access from the Dulles Toll Road. The issue of comparing daily commute times by car vs. rail is that a commute by car is highly variable. A simple breakdown for fender bender could double your commute time. Also when you commute by bus or rail you can get some reading or work done while you ride.
Kadey Mackenzie May 16, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Seriously, and what are the odds there will be a simple breakdown or fender bender regularly in this area? Pretty likely (just listen to the morning traffic) and it causes major delays even if it is just rubbernecking. Reading a book in peace while commuting to or from work, this mom of 5 thinks that sounds heavenly :) As far as needing a car or bus to get to the station...ok? I'd rather drive 5 mins to the station and park my car than sit for god knows how long in said car trying to get somewhere. Speaking of park & ride, there is a packed lot off of 606 that, from my understanding, will be part of the new metro...what's the difference if you park & ride the bus, park & ride with another car, or park & ride the metro? You're still initially driving your car to the same location.
Don Hilton May 16, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Have ridden the Loudoun Bus to DC many times Great for an all day event but if your business is over before 3pm YOU ARE STUCK. Train offers much more flexibility and frequency. By the way, how did I get to he bus stop? By (gasp) CAR, and judging by the full parking lot so do most people.
CC Mojo May 16, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Wait, Bob, do you mean the same great bus service that magically disappears when the 9-5'ers are done? If faced with having to plan my life around the buses, as they stand today, or know I can rely on the train to get me where I want to be, even at 3pm on a Sunday, well, that seems obvious. When is the last time you rode a bus, Bob? Just curious.
CC Mojo May 16, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Oh, and really, this of says a lot about the commuting issue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmHKzmt1juw&
Victoria Glenn May 16, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I never said there was a problem...just anything that makes life with 3 kids easier..yay! These are not the only reasons I think we really need the rail but I am sure I am not alone in thinking these small conveniences will go a long way.
Victoria Glenn May 16, 2012 at 05:33 PM
and let us not forget the near endless road construction to try to keep up with the ever increasing traffic that slows things down too.
Bob Bruhns May 16, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Isn't it possible to drive to the Herndon-Monroe lot and park and take a bus now? Would that be that much further to drive, given the cost of this rail line?
Bob Bruhns May 16, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Wouldn't BRT have done pretty much the same thing? But I recently read that somebody managed to prevent BRT as quickly as possible after somebody else managed to switch us to the idea of rail.. Now THAT's what I call planning! It could still be done, though. Build a road where the rail line would go, and run bus on it until rail becomes practical. Transfer at Reston-Wiehle. NO WAY that would cost anywhere near as much as rail, and there is already the right of way in place for it. When the idea catches on, it could extend across Loudoun County much more readily than rail, given that the population density in Loudoun County simply isn't ready for rail yet - AND it would reserve the future rail right of way. Plus, it would STILL create construction jobs and business. I wonder if there is a You-Tube video ready to refute that. Of course, somebody did pretend, recently, that BRT would cost about the same as rail. I wonder how long their analysis would stand up to scrutiny. Let's see, shall we?
Rob Jackson May 16, 2012 at 08:48 PM
"Have ridden the Loudoun Bus to DC many times Great for an all day event but if your business is over before 3pm YOU ARE STUCK. Train offers much more flexibility and frequency." Not really. The capacity of the Potomac River tunnel, which will be used by the Orange, Blue and Silver Lines, is 27 trains per hour in each direction. Before the recently announced Blue Line changes that shift three trains per hour to the Yellow Line route, there are 14 Orange and 13 Blue Line trains per hour at peak periods. Take away three Blue Line trains, leaving ten per hour. Add the Silver Line. Then there can be as many as 17 total Orange and Silver Line trains per hour. If we reduce the overcrowded Orange Line to ten trains per hour, there can be only 7 Silver Line trains per hour during peak periods. Or we could cut the Orange Line to eight to have 9 Silver Line trains per hour. Certainly eight car trains can pick up some of the slack, and some Orange Line riders will shift to the Silver Line, but the service on the Silver Line will be limited, unless Orange Line service is significantly reduced.
Bob Bruhns May 17, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Yeah, CC, the BUS - one of the buses that most visitors to Loudoun County are going to have to TAKE, to get from the stations over on the east side of the county to the office buildings that are supposedly going to gush money because of this rail. THAT bus. Oh - maybe you are saying that people coming to Loudoun County on this rail line at late hours are going to be stranded? Well that's very interesting. I was on a bus at an airport a few years ago, in Paris, I think. And I was on a rail link to an international airport in Frankfurt, Germany a few years ago too. I guess they only have one international airport, but I'm not sure. Other than that, I drive, like most people.
Don Hilton May 17, 2012 at 02:01 AM
So what bus do you ride to get back from DC at 10am in the morning, or 10 at night ,or weekends? Betcha there's a train at those times
CC Mojo May 17, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Do you have several foil hats, or just one that you wear all day? Maybe seasonal? I'd love to talk to your designer! I'm a YouTube fan, can't help it :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Xf-Lesrkuc Get it? It's TRAIN!
Melvin Summers May 17, 2012 at 04:15 AM
The population of Loudon gets bigger and bigger each year. We sit on roads from in the morning and afternoon for longer then MOST people in the whole country. All of the neighboring counties to our east have the Metro. We pay our taxes, we commute on our clogged roads. It's about time we got Metro.
Melvin Summers May 17, 2012 at 04:21 AM
I do not think busses are a good alternative for a couple reasons. One they add to traffic by putting MORE vehicles on the roads, and we all have to steer around them when they stop, making rush hours even worse. Second they just can't move the same volume of people. I think the people who work in Loudoun county need a cheap and easy way to commute into DC so they can bring a paycheck home to the county where they will spend more of DC's money here and make our economy grow. Yes to Metro
Bob Bruhns May 17, 2012 at 05:38 AM
CC - can you Google a YouTube video that explains how visitors coming to Loudoun County by rail will get from the rail stations on the east end of Loudoun County to all of the office buildings all over Loudoun County, where all of those Billions of dollars will be gushing, and stuff? Maybe you can find find videos of oxcarts, rickshaws, unicycles, jetskis, skateboards and hot air balloons? Or will you admit that BUS is what you need? Wait, I forgot hitchhiking...
Bob Bruhns May 17, 2012 at 06:11 AM
You realize that people coming into Loudoun County by rail will need something to get to the office buildings and stores that are more than walking distance from the rail stations, that are on the east end of the county. So the more people coming in by rail, the more bus will be needed. Likewise, many Loudoun County residents will prefer to take a bus from locations all over the county to the rail stations on the east end of the county. Also - do you feel that you will be getting the same benefit as the landowners within walking distance of the rail stations? Of course you won't, so you should demand that there be a business rail tax district around the rail stations, so that those landowners can pay a fair share.

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