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Letter: Community Input Vital to Rail Phase 2

Bulova says "We will continue to identify ways to address the affordability of rates on the Dulles Toll Road. "

Last week, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) released new cost estimates for Phase II of Rail to Dulles. These new estimates are $1 billion lower than previous estimates and are consistent with what we have been working with during the past year.

Fairfax County and other stakeholders came together over the past year to address rising cost estimates for Phase II. Working with our staff and project partners, Loudoun County, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, we were able to bring the cost of Phase II down by $700 million.

The savings were achieved in part by moving to an above ground station at the airport, a smaller rail yard, and purchasing fewer rail cars. I believe these important improvements in the funding strategy for Phase II will protect both the taxpayers of Fairfax County and users of the Dulles Toll Road.

We will continue to identify ways to address the affordability of rates on the Dulles Toll Road.  The Governor has pledged $150 million toward Phase II that specifically addresses the issue of affordability of the Dulles Toll Road.  In addition, federal TIFIA financing will further address affordability of the project, something U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood encouraged us to apply for in our Memorandum of Agreement signed by all partners last year. 

I welcome constructive discussions about the future of Phase II and look forward to hearing from the community on this vital project. Fairfax County staff will host a series of community meetings this month to discuss the future of Rail to Dulles. Those meetings will be held on Wednesday, March 14 at Hutchison Elementary School; Thursday, March 15 at Westgate Elementary School; and Monday, March 19 at the Fairfax County Government Center (the first meeting was held on March 12 at the South County Government Center).

All meetings start at 6:30 p.m. except for March 19 at 7 p.m. The Board of Supervisors will then hold a public hearing at our meeting on Tuesday, March 20 at 5pm in the Government Center. For more details, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/dullesmetro/.

I encourage all interested residents of Fairfax County to attend these meetings; it is critical that the community be engaged on such an important project. Rail to Dulles remains our highest transportation priority and we will continue to make sure the project can be completed in a way that is affordable to our residents, commuters and corporate neighbors.

 

Sharon Bulova

Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

Terry Maynard March 13, 2012 at 08:04 PM
I agree with Chairman Bulova that your participation in this discussion is important. I recommend you attend any of the meetings noted above, including the public hearing next Tuesday. Why? Because unless the Board disapproves its participation in the current funding plan, your one-way toll is forecast to double next year to $4.50, triple in 2018 to $6.75, nearly quadruple to $8.75 in 2023, etc! See details here: http://www.reston2020.blogspot.com/2012/03/dulles-toll-road-fact-sheet-1-excessive.html And, according to MWAA's traffic analysis, the doubling of tolls next year will see 18% of current toll road traffic shift to local roads. That's 34,000 vehicles a day, including 10,000 cars per day added to Reston's streets next year. More will divert as tolls increase. See details here: http://www.reston2020.blogspot.com/2012/03/dulles-toll-road-fact-sheet-2-traffic.html This will happen because our Board agreed to a funding arrangement that requires toll road users to pay 75% of Phase 2 construction costs, subject to this review. The rest of us will suffer along with them as congestion grows on our local roads. Please ask why the County staff making the presentations why this is a good idea for Fairfax or Reston. Their answer will be because there are no other funds to pay for completing the Silver Line. Reston 2020 believes the potential for other revenue sources has not been well explored, and it certainly should be before proceeding with this plan.
Diane Blust March 14, 2012 at 12:14 PM
The Metro is REGIONAL transportation system which should have an equitible regional funding solution. It is not appropriate for 75% of the funds to come from current toll road users. Other funding options: a small airline passenger fee for Dulles passengers, tolls on the Dulles Acces Road, more Federal funding, etc. As Mr. Maynard and Reston 2020 have shown in their work, the current funding plan will push traffic onto the streets of Fairax County, including the streets of Reston. Traffic is already bad in Reston and is expected to get worse with the opening of the metro station at Wiehle Avenue as drivers use Reston's roads to access the station's parking garage. When one adds toll road refusniks and new residents from new development in Reston, we will have the ingredients for gridlock throughout Reston. There will be health and environmental costs to the increased traffic. We are a Federal non-attainment area for air quality. Creating traffic gridlock will ensure we move away from, not towards, those important Federal air quality goals. As we lose trees to development, we lower the capacity of our tree canopy to clean the air we breath. The one thing our elected officials and government officials can do to mitigate some of the negative effects of development in the Dulles corridor is to ensure that commuters stay off local roads. They can do this by finding other funding sources for phase 2 of the metro extension.
HardHatMommy March 14, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Three funding partners, Loudoun County, Fairfax County and the state of Virginia have clearly communicated that they will not support the PLA scheme on the project that discriminates against the 97.4% of Virginia construction workers who are NOT in a union. I imagine if the Dulles Toll Road users had a voice, they would chime in with the same message that the job should be bid via open competition where neither union nor non-union get an advantage over the other. Yet MWAA continues to dig its heels in and insist on giving a gift to organized labor from neighboring states. This isn't looking like it is going to shake out very well for the Toll Road users. MWAA's immature hissy fit over their discriminatory PLA is going to cost citizens in the end. But what can we do? We can't vote them out; they are not elected officials. Is there anyone that can reign in the out of control MWAA?
Tammi Petrine March 15, 2012 at 07:19 AM
Working with members of Reston 2020 for the last two+ years, we have learned that solutions often exist that have not yet been voiced. IF YOU have serious, creative funding ideas for the Metro Silver Line funding, please send them to: Reston2020.blogspot.com. Our committee will pass them along to the Fairfax County staff working on a solution to this huge problem of inequity and incomplete planning. We realize that the county is between a rock and a hard place here. Let's help solve this for all our sakes by working together. Thank you! Tammi Petrine Co-chair, Reston 2020
Bob Bruhns March 15, 2012 at 01:11 PM
In addition to its bad design and bad financing plan, I keep pointing out that Dulles Rail Phase II costs two times what it should. But this seems to be the last thing on the minds of our leaders, who keep claiming that they are looking for ways to reduce the toll road tolls. Clearly therefore, they are not looking at ways to reduce the costs of this rail extension to what they should be, and (remarkably) they see no connection between a two to one overcost in this multi-billion dollar project, and financial difficulties in obtaining funding for it. And instead of looking at the glaringly obvious two to one overcost, a few people in high places seem to be planning to solve the toll problem by demanding $500 million from Virginia, instead of $150 million. Virginia is trying to deal with underfunding in its pension system - the same thing that is breaking municipalities across the nation - but nobody sees any problem with taking more money that Virginia doesn't have, and using it to help pay two times what Dulles Rail Phase II should cost. This is beyond ridiculous. I really hope that whatever must be in the water that causes such defective thinking, is identified and removed. Soon.
Rob Whitfield March 15, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Dulles Rail demonstrates the epitome of poor planning and a total lack of accountability by federal, state and local government officials. The failures by both Democrat and Republican elected officials to address escalating rail cost and financing structure problems are deplorable. The 2004 EIS showed that the project will do little to relieve local traffic congestion. The present MWAA financing structure will make local traffic congestion far worse. The project is being promoted by land owners, their lawyers and their allies in Tysons Corner and on the Dulles Corridor who stand to profit by $5 to $10 billion at the expense of businesses and residents of our area who will be forced to pay $15 billion in tolls over the next 50 years to feed the "fatted calf." Other major beneficiaries are federal workers and residents of DC and Arlington who benefit from a rail project built at our expense, not theirs. The project has never been demonstrated to be a cost effective solution to traffic congestion in western Fairfax and eastern Loudoun counties. It was not economically and financially feasible in 2002, when the Federal Transit Administration rejected funding for Phase 2 due to a low cost effectiveness ranking based on projected rail ridership forecasts. Worse, most rail riders will be present bus riders rather than new transit riders. Wait until they discover that rail will make their journeys longer and far more expensive than their bus trips with free parking today.
Michael Sanio March 29, 2012 at 02:19 AM
The Metro Silver Line to Dulles will provide benefits to Reston, Fairfax County, DC and the Capital Region. Unless there is a balanced financing plan, Reston will bear a disproportionate share of the costs - congestion, noise and increased traffic on local roads. A balance financing plan is critical to ensuring fair and equitable sharing of costs and benefits. Good decisions for Reston community requires a strong, knowledgeable, proactive Board and broad representation by the voting residents. Vote! Polls close Friday March 30th, 5:00 pm Michael Sanio At Large Candidate Reston Association Board
Bob Bruhns March 29, 2012 at 01:42 PM
The cost estimates for Dulles Rail Phase II are two times what it should cost. The official estimators should be called forth IMMEDIATELY, to justify their extremely high cost estimates. Per mile, the Dulles Rail Phase II cost estimate is two times what the Franconia-Springfield Metro extension cost, adjusted for inflation. The per-mile cost estimate of our mostly on-ground line is as high as the BART extension costs in San Francisco that involved tunneling underground, moving another station to tunnel under it, etc. Something is CLEARLY wrong here, and it needs to be addressed NOW. The Rt 28 station cost estimate was revealed in 2011. It is $83 million. That is two times what a comparable station cost in Fairfield Connecticut, that was just completed in December 2011. And we know that the Rt 772, Rt 606, Rt 28, Herndon and Reston Parkway stations are the same, patterned on the Wiehle Ave station. The cost estimate for the Phase II parking garages is 1.7 times what it should be. Even if we negotiate to have contractors build these for reduced or no cost, we will be crediting them for too much cost reduction to us, meaning that we will give up more fee revenue than we should. That will add up. The MWAA board has no clue about rail contracting. The FTA bungled their 2011 review, basing it on evidently bad cost estimates by others. We need to send Dulles Rail Phase II back to the drawing board, and we must question the new plans and cost estimates closely.

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