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Bulova: Find Federal Funds for Phase 2

Fairfax County Supervisors Chair says Rail to Dulles is too important to fall victim to state, local issues.

Rail to Dulles was a focus at Tuesday's Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting, where Chairman Sharon Bulova called on the county’s federal representatives to pursue any and all avenues for providing federal funding for Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

Bulova also signed a letter from the supervisors to Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton, objecting to the administration’s attempt to "circumvent the efficient transit funding system" Northern Virginia has used for decades, it reads.

The future of for months as the project faces a lack of federal funding and

Phase 1 of the Silver Line will run from Tysons Corner to Reston's Wiehle Avenue. It received $900 million in federal funding and is on track to open in December 2013.

Phase 2—slated to run from Wiehle to Dulles International and into Loudoun County—has received no federal funding. The Commonwealth of Virginia has pledged $150 million, which will likely be paid now that the project labor agreement has been dropped. However, some Metro board members have expressed skepticism that Virginia will come through with its fair share.

There has also been backlash from Dulles Toll Road

In April, Fairfax County Supervisors

Bulova pointed out on Tuesday the importance of the Silver Line to the region.

“[Rail to Dulles] will bring transit to our major international airport, provide connections to some of the county’s major business centers, and will serve as a gateway to Washington, DC, and the National Capital Region," she said in a statement.

"The Dulles Rail extension is not simply a Fairfax County project or even a regional project – it is a project of national significance. As U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood has stated, the Metro system is ‘America’s system,’ providing access for millions of riders to the nation’s capital,” said Bulova. 

Bulova said possible sources for federal funding could include FY2013 appropriations, transportation reauthorization, transportation funding returned by the states and President Barack Obama’s FY2014 budget request.

“Given the national scope and importance of this project to the National Capital Region and to the federal workforce, the County should explore every opportunity for obtaining federal funding for this essential project,” she said.

The board matter was moved jointly with Supervisors Jeff McKay and Catherine Hudgins.

In the letter to Connaughton, Bulova—along with other regional leaders—pointed out how state methods have complicated the goals of funding transit.

“[The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission]’s current formula is the result of significant regional negotiations and collaboration to develop effective transit operations that does not stop at jurisdictional boundaries," the letter reads. "Unfortunately, this unexpected [Department of Rail and Public Transportation] action occurred without any consultation, which would have quickly identified some serious concerns."

At issue is a change in the way the Commonwealth directs distribution of its financial assistance for transit to Northern Virginia localities. Currently, the DRPT forwards that money to the NVTC, which allocates it based on the decades-old Subsidy Allocation Model (SAM).

The model is in state code, and failure to allocate state assistance to WMATA using it (as DRPT is attempting to do) would violate state law, the letter's authors say.

SAM has been used by NVTC since 1974, and no state representative has ever voted against it.

The letter’s authors say the SAM helps “cushion the impact” of unexpected changes in state transit aid, especially for smaller jurisdictions. The mayors and chairs also decry the short notice for this change.

 “It is not reasonable to change NVTC’s successful and long-standing process with only ten days notice after FY2013 local budgets have been adopted and after NVTC had complete applications for the state aid [at issue],” they write. ““The new policy will create local winners and losers with no time to identify other workable solutions to achieve DRPT’s objectives. NVTC is not aware of any factor that necessitates a rush to action.”

Signers of the letter include Chairman Sharon Bulova, NVTC Chairman Jay Fisette, Arlington Board Chairman Mary Hynes, Falls Church Mayor Nader Baroukh, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille and City of Fairfax Mayor Robert Lederer.

Lilguy June 19, 2012 at 08:47 PM
If Chairman Bulova really believed rail to Dulles "is a project of national significance" per above, why didn't she make federal aid to the project a requirement for the Board's approval of moving forward Phase 2. The hypocrisy is astounding, but consistent.
Bob Bruhns June 19, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Well I'm glad it is convenient for Ms. Bulova to say that this is a national project now, because not long ago she also said that it didn't matter that the Dulles Airport station would be a quarter mile from the air terminal, because mostly airport employees would be using it. (That was in mid 2011, when THAT argument was convenient.) Mr. Connaughton was in agreement at that time, and he said essentially the same thing. The federal agencies never wanted to proceed with this rail project, because it didn't make sense. But of course we had to have Rail to Tysons, and now Rail to Dulles, even though Dulles was... mostly for airport employees. And the reason there is no federal money for Phase II is that this project is grossly premature. We do not have the population density to justify it. Our local leaders are whining and crying because there is a whole political movement demanding that this rail should happen, and it got a lot of extra money from Phase I and now it wants more extra money from overcharges, about a Billion and a half dollars of overcharges, from Phase II. JUST SAY NO. This is a local system for local benefit, and it should have been a bus system, and the rest of it should be a bus system for another twenty or thirty years, until the business corridor is sufficiently developed to justify rail. Until then, we should use bus in the future rail right of way.
Tammi Petrine June 20, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Unless the funding formula for the Silver Line is changed to significantly lessen the burden on the DTR users, the Metro cost will literally kill the lucrative Dulles corridor - Herndon and Reston. Who will MOVE a business here or KEEP a business here when the costs of access or egress are so ridiculous??? What sane person will BUY A HOME here? Does the Citizenry of Reston/Herndon get this??? Do the businesses in the corridor understand that their special tax districts will not fund enough of the burden of the costs to offset the toll increases???? Do the Retail merchants and realtors get that their businesses are serious peril that will only increase as the outrageous tolls escalate, in Jan, '13 to $4.50/ONE WAY to Tysons??? The currently sitting Reston Master Planning Task Force is planning for a huge increase in population for the proposed Metro Station Areas of Wiehle, Reston Town Center and Herndon/Monroe called TOD (Transit Oriented Development.) County staff is working their butts off trying to get us all the information we need to make a sensible plan for a progressive future that serves both the new and old residents of our area.
Tammi Petrine June 20, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Continued: But what future do we have to look forward to for the next 40+ years if we throw a party and NO ONE COMES because they can’t afford the tolls??? Why should we sacrifice our gorgeous community for Metro TOD housing? I would like to have Metro serve the airport, but NOT at the cost of killing the host communities. Federal, State of Virginia and Fairfax County officials: Incomplete and reckless planning by all of you has seriously imperiled my community and I am mad as hell. I do not think I am alone.
Rob Jackson June 20, 2012 at 01:02 PM
More critical to Fairfax County over the longer term is the need to obtain federal and state funding for the massive road and non-rail transit (read bus) improvements needed between now and 2030 to support an urban Tysons Corner. Using proposed development, even more infrastructure is needed than that which was forecast in 2010 when the Comp Plan was adopted.
Bob Bruhns June 20, 2012 at 01:49 PM
And by the way, this little Phase II rail project costs two times what it should cost - meaning that somebody will walk off with an extra Billion and a half dollars, while we struggle to pay, for generations. Why do you suppose there is so much pressure to build this thing? Why do you suppose our leaders make up story after different story to justify it? Why do you suppose the news media covers up so many inconvenient things, while giving one economist very prominent visibility for a very incomplete report? Why do you suppose that no officials or reporters asked how dumping the Rt 28 station and Phase II parking garage costs onto the counties removed their cost from the actual project? Why do you suppose that the news media did not happen to mention that the FTA added $53 million to the Rt 28 station cost in its July 3, 2011 White Paper? Why do you suppose that nobody asks why the news media never mentions the finanicial and risk audit being conducted by US DOT since March 2012? You know, there are street signs for this sort of thing - "ONE WAY." Wake up and smell the coffee! This project is a RIPOFF.
Terry Maynard June 20, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Rob has this right--big time. The Board is making promises that Patch's readers will have to finance--and the planning for that has been extremely poor. Tomorrow the County Planning Commission will hear a "strawman" (AKA "a draft plan") for the financing of Tysons' needed transportation infrastructure--streets, toll road ramps, bus service, etc.--that proposes $2.9 billion in investment. Over 40 years, that becomes $5 billion @ 3% inflation--and that doesn't count the financing which will double that cost or more. Development plans for Reston are similar and will also require multi-billion dollar investments--but the County staff has so far refused to let the Task Force consider these implications for planning. We run a substantial risk of undermining the communities along Dulles rail with the kinds of unthought out commitments the County Board is making monthly--to finance rail with rapacious tolls, to allow (& encourage) super high-density development, and to provide the infrastructure that requires--transportation, recreation-parks-open spaces, schools, cultural amenities, etc. Please share your concern with the Board about its ill-considered decisions that you will end up paying for in higher property taxes.
The BSD Guy June 20, 2012 at 05:50 PM
....and of course there's no guarantee that the crack-pipe economic growth predicted by the billionaire elite developers will ever occur - Just keep developing and developing using other people's money. If the money isn't from taxpayers, it's from invvestors - like P.T. Barnum used to say, "There's one born every minute." There is not one single REALISTIC economic model that shows "boom growth" the developers are spoon feeding down everyone's throat. "If we build they will come" was their mantra back in the late '90s and we STILL have tons of empty offices around. Any way you look at it there are going to be significant cuts to federal budgets, EVEN if Obama had his way 100% - There's no way around it. So where's the money coming from??????
Tax Pig June 20, 2012 at 08:39 PM
The sucking sound will never end. If the U.S. Government Can Opt Out, Why Can’t Loudoun? http://loudounoptout.blogspot.com/2012/06/if-us-government-can-opt-out-why-cant.html
the-stix June 20, 2012 at 11:55 PM
We are at the 11th hour pending the decision to go forward on Phase 2, and too many are of fighting other fights.. in this case Silver Line infrastructure. Not that infrastructure is not important (in fact vital), lets not muddy the waters with arguments that can only give cause for delay in a Phase 2 go-ahead.. my opinion.
The Analyst June 21, 2012 at 05:41 PM
I saw an interesting show a few days ago about Jamie Dimon and congress. While the Republicans seemed more to cow-tow to the elite and in some cases apologize to him (literally!) for JP Morgan's wrong doing, the Democrats struggled to clarify why he needed criticizing. The newscaster made it somewhat clear that the problem was the congressmen simply weren't "up to" the mental level of Dimon. They didn't understand what he really did, or what really went wrong. I think the observation was right on the nose. I think the overall skill of elected officials has gone so far downhill they can't even think for themselves. Developers "spoon feeding" blatantly biased and completely erroneous economic policies to people that have no clue seems to be what the Fairfax County government is all about. Allowing developers to "stack" the argument on their sides by essentially infiltrating and controlling those county offices with the potential to honestly limit and control the industry is yet another - and yet the politicians don't get it. I'm afraid, fellow posters, pointing out the flaws with all the problems in this county to a supervisor may very well be like reading the constitution of the U.S. to a raspberry - no clue, no clue at all.
Skip Endale June 24, 2012 at 01:10 AM
I salute the three clowns from Loudon County who are holding Reston hostage until we have the entire town paved for commuters that are coming in from out of town. Also, a big hip hip hurray to all the tea partiers out there, your time has finally come to demonstrate once again that a complete moron can gather enough votes short term to wreck havoc with a system that took decades to perfect itself.
Rob Jackson June 24, 2012 at 03:19 PM
"From one estimate I've heard the Metrorail system will pull maybe a lane's worth of traffic off the Toll Road." That is not true. You have been mislead, Mr. Jones. The arrival of the Silver Line will, of course, attract riders. But the Federal Transit Administration, which has funded Dulles Rail, has estimated most of these riders are taking transit already. By 2030, the FTA estimates there will be only 10,000 new transit riders -- that is, people who are driving cars today. And rail will also trigger more development in Tysons, Reston and the rest of the Dulles Corridor that, in turn, will yield significant amounts of traffic. Not only will the Dulles Toll Road not see fewer cars, it will see so many more that Fairfax County DOT has estimated the DTR may need as many as three-to-five new lanes in both directions by 2030.
Bob Bruhns June 24, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Speaking of clowns, Loudoun County BOS Chairman Scott York suddenly started supporting this rail fiasco when the FTA dumped the bloated costs of the Rt 772 and Rt 606 parking garages onto Loudoun County. Now that MWAA seems to think that those garages should cost $168 million instead of the already bloated $130.3 million, maybe it's time to think back to May 2011, when Mr. York felt differently. Flip, flop. Draw your own conclusions. Loudoun Continues Opposition to MWAA Dulles Rail Station Decision WUSA TV9, May 17th, 2011 http://reston.wusa9.com/news/business/loudoun-continues-opposition-mwaa-dulles-rail-station-decision/57581 “MWAA is causing this project to derail,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott K. York. “The numbers aren’t adding up and when the numbers don’t add up, you can’t continue making decisions that are costing the project more and more.”
Tammi Petrine June 24, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Rob, do you seriously, personally think the DTR will attract MORE riders with the exorbitant tolls planned now by MWAA??? I know what the Fairfax County DOT "thinks" but they are not paying the tolls 2X everyday!!! Please keep in mind that our Fairfax County "officials" got the DTR users into this outrageous predicament in the first place. They can not be accused of being sensitive to the realities of expecting one tiny demographic that ALREADY pays for gas, maintenance, insurance, taxes/fees and car payments to ADDITIONALLY pay 54% of the entire Silver Line Costs in continually escalating tolls!!! We are talking of 54% of over $6 BILLION of actual costs PLUS $17 Billion for 40 years of financing!!! The lack of foresight and fairness by them is appalling and unprecedented in the history of the county AND the state... And when questioned about it, our Fairfax Supervisors and State of Virginia elected officials profess to be "working on a solution." A far better course of action would be to properly plan for the expenses of large projects in ADVANCE of commitment. Now MWAA, a rogue, non-elected organization with no allegiance to the DTR corridor has control of the tolls... now a wonderful funding resource for any project that furthers THEIR goals of supporting National and Dulles Airports with no oversight by local government has fallen into their laps...
Tammi Petrine June 24, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Continued: And it gets worse: This same group is also responsible for the building of the Silver Line. What impetus do they have to monitor costs closely with open-ended tolls at their disposal??? Talk about fox in the chicken coop!!! The lapses in judgment by so many in this fiasco are beyond stultifying.
Bob Bruhns June 24, 2012 at 08:19 PM
On January 1, 2013, the tolls will jump to $4.50 or so - one way - and that's when you will hear howling from the drivers, and howling from the people living and working in areas where the roads will be swamped with cars trying to avoid the usurious tolls that our so-called 'leaders' set us up to pay, and now claim to be looking for ways to reduce. The idea is to have this bad deal signed and locked in by that time, so we have no way out. After acting completely surprised, the so-called 'leaders' of Fairfax and Loudoun Counties will then reveal their so-called 'solution' - paying down the tolls with billion dollar bonds, costing their taxpayers 50 to 75 million a year, for fifty years. And then WMATA will lower the boom with $13 billion of deferred maintenance that they need to fund. Shortly thereafter, repeated jamming of the Rosslyn tunnel will require more tunnels... and WMATA will be looking for funding for that, too. Won't that be fun. All of this, for a premature little rail line that costs two times what it should, and is not needed. Oh yes, our so-called 'leaders' are looking for ways to lower the tolls, or something, as they whistle and look the other way. Right.
Rob Jackson June 24, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Mr. Jones, you have hit on a very important issue - what is the realistic capacity of the Silver Line to serve Tysons and the rest of the Dulles Corridor and to connect riders to both Downtown D.C. and Dulles International Airport. No one is talking about this. The total capacity for the combined Silver and Orange Lines is 17 trains per hour in each direction. With Rush+, WAMTA is now running 17 Orange Line trains at peak demand times. How many Orange Line trains will WMATA pull off the line to add Silver Line trains? We deserve to know the answer now.

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