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McDonnell Calls on Senate to OK Roads Funding

The governor visited Fairfax County on Monday to rally support for his transportation bill, promising some money to reduce fees on the Dulles Toll Road.

Gov. Bob McDonnell made a stop in Northern Virginia on Monday afternoon to urge locals to push their representatives to support his divisive transportation-funding package, which the state Senate is scheduled to vote on again Tuesday.

The governor said his proposal, , would raise about $3 billion for road and transit improvements over the next five years. The bill would eliminate the state’s 17.5-cents-per-gallon gas tax and raise the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent.

The House last week amended their version of the bill, eliminating a $100 alternative vehicle fee for owners of hybrid cars and prohibiting tolls on I-95 south of Fredericksburg.

Senate Republicans offered their own amendments to the bill, including proposals to raise the gas tax to 5.5 percent or even 8 percent. But Senate Democrats shot down both ideas.

In his statement, delivered at the administration headquarters for the Dulles Toll Road, McDonnell lamented the Senate vote, calling it a “terribly partisan result.”

McDonnell stressed the bill’s passage would raise $300 million that would go directly towards relieving the projected soaring toll prices when construction begins on Phase 2 of Metro's Silver Line to Dulles International Airport.

Phase 1, which runs from Tysons Corner to Reston's Wiehle Avenue, is slated to open in December. Unlike Phase 1, Phase 2 has no federal funding and may have to rely in tolls to help pay the costs.

Jack Potter, president of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said the $300 million would decrease prices on the toll road by about 50 to 60 cents per trip in today’s dollars. He also said MWAA had already voted to increase tolls – currently $2.75 per trip – to $3.50 in 2014, and that they were expected to reach $6.75 by 2019.

Potter guaranteed the $300 million in the governor’s bill would go directly towards lowering tolls - which is crucial for Reston residents who must use the toll road to get most places.

Potter also said any other money from the state or federal government would as well.

“Any money that comes to us will go to the roll road and to mitigating tolls,” Potter said.

Jim Corcoran, president of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, said the $300 million for toll relief would be critical to the ongoing redevelopment of Tysons Corner, a massive project that will benefit the entire state.

“For this to continue to grow, for entrepreneurs to continue to build business here, we have to get this passed,” Corcoran said.

 McDonnell said he had been in contact with Senate Democrats over the weekend, particularly Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-35th), and that he was optimistic about reaching some sort of compromise.

 The governor even admitted he might be open to a bill that combined the two approaches, such as a reduced reliance on the gas tax and a smaller sales-tax hike.

“We could talk about that,” he said.

But he also said any plan he would consider approving would have to raise an amount of similar to the $845 million his current proposal is expected to generate.

McDonnell was strongly opposed to a bill relying solely on the gas tax, which he called a “declining revenue source.”

“I’m not going to sign a $1 billion tax increase,” he said.

Before compromises could be made, McDonnell said the bill first had to pass the Senate.

“We’re on the 40 yard line, maybe even the 30,” he said. “I want to get it over the goal line.”

Check out Reston Patch's Silver Line page here.

For more on Gov. McDonnell's transportation bill, see below:

  • Governor’s Transportation Plan Hits Roadblock
  • McDonnell's Transportation Bill Moves Forward
  • Speak Out: Will McDonnell's Tax Plan Help Virginia?
Rob Whitfield February 12, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Virginia and MWAA are not the main problem with Dulles Rail. The Governor has failed to demand accountability from the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority. The public and media must investigate potential long term costs to Virginia taxpayers of the grossly mismanaged WMATA. WMATA's Board has repeatedly failed to adopt prudent financial plans to fund most of the projected $13.3 billion in capital replacement cost needs by 2020 for the original 103 mile Metrorail system. Last month WMATA's Board refused to propose raising Metrorail fares in the next fiscal year to help cover increased costs projected. Instead they expect taxpayers to increase the subsidies for this habitually mismanaged authority. WMATA will experience substantial increased costs associated with its capital improvement program -much of it required because of long deferred safety and maintenance items. The pre-opening costs of Phase 1 of the Silver Line may add $200 million or more to the WMATA budget. WMATA has failed to make long overdue investments in upgraded traction power substations and expanded ingress and egress facilities at Washington DC stations. This will result in more overcrowding on Orange Line trains and Arlington County and DC stations due to the inability of WMATA to operate more 8 car trains. WMATA has not explained why Dulles Toll Road users should pay most costs of a proposed Dulles maintenance facility, designed mostly for Series 7000 railcars to be used elsewhere.
Bob Bruhns February 13, 2013 at 03:28 AM
It would also help if the line item cost numbers were not concealed from the public, as they are in the Dulles Rail / Silver Line project. The concept of a government-business partnership to build these projects was sold to us on the grounds that it would LOWER prices. But what we actually find is that these agreements allow the government and the businesses to conceal excessive line item prices, preventing people from seeing and pointing out the price excesses. The result is economy-crashing costs that nobody will explain. This is the reason why our Rt 28 rail station is estimated at more than two times what a comparable, actually more sophisticated station cost in Fairfield Connecticut in December 2011. I know people don't care about things like this, but such excessive costs appear to be entirely typical of the Dulles Rail / Silver Line project, the monstrous overcosts of which are about to drag the local economy to its knees. And then of course, the even bigger overcosts that WMATA is about to hand us, will surely finish the demolition of Northern Virginia. It's really a shame.
Rob Whitfield February 13, 2013 at 02:11 PM
Unofficial: WMATA PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE -FEBRUARY 14, 2013 Thursday, February 14 at 5:30 p.m. Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School 7130 Leesburg Pike Falls Church, VA http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/news/PressReleaseDetail.cfm?ReleaseID=5425 WMATA wants public feedback on the Authority's draft strategic plan, called Momentum, and the FY14 budget. Momentum calls for making Metro's first priority the maximization of the current transit network, and utilizing every bit of capacity available as a foundation for future growth and expansion to meet the needs of the region. Other priorities identified in the strategic plan include: •Developing a next-generation communications infrastructure to provide a seamless and intuitive customer experience, allowing travelers to navigate the region by transit effortlessly •Acquiring additional railcars, power capacity and yard storage to operate all 8 car trains during peak periods; •Completing the Metrobus priority corridor network to serve more riders and provide faster service; •Improving and expanding selected core stations to accommodate more customers; •Building new pedestrian connections between selected stations to provide new transfer options; and •Adding infrastructure to give the rail network the routing flexibility it lacks today. Continues below
Rob Whitfield February 13, 2013 at 02:11 PM
Unofficial: WMATA PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE -FEBRUARY 14, 2013 Thursday, February 14 at 5:30 p.m. Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School 7130 Leesburg Pike Falls Church, VA At the public meetings, participants will also hear about Metro's proposed FY14 budget, which provides more rail service (Silver Line), better bus service through expansion of priority corridors, continues the Metro Forward rebuilding effort, and makes a down payment on additional electric power and rail cars needed to increase the number of 8-car trains – all without a fare increase. NOTE THE LAST STATEMENT ABOVE!!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!! Translation: WMATA does not plan to raise Metrorail fares but demands instead increased subsidies from WMATA compact jurisdictions.
Bob Bruhns February 17, 2013 at 07:07 PM
By the way, I saw a recent report that expanding our present partial 6-car Metrorail service to all 8-car Metrorail service will cost us SIX BILLION DOLLARS. http://oakton.patch.com/articles/metro-momentum-offers-expansive-plans-for-system-s-future People may recall that we are already wondering how we will pay the $6 Billion that the Silver Line will cost (BEFORE finance charges are tacked on) - and now here comes another $6 Billion expense (also BEFORE the finance charges get tacked on). And WMATA has another $20 Billion of expenses in store beyond that, at a minimum. (Also BEFORE the finance charges get tacked on.) What I'm saying is that we need to check the prices we are paying. Our leaders approved a double priced estimate for the Dulles Rail / Silver Line, and you can bet that they'll approve double prices (or even higher) for this WMATA deal too. Right now, they are busy making sure that they can redact the line item prices, so you can't ever see them and compare them to anything. They will claim that they are making special deals to save you money - but then they will hand you a double price or worse, just like they did in the Dulles Rail / Silver Line ripoff. They are going to bankrupt us, folks... you really need to wake up.
Rob Whitfield February 17, 2013 at 07:47 PM
The WMATA Falls Church meeting on Thursday was attended by under two dozen people; half of them seemed from WMATA. Only three people spoke on the $26 billion Metro Momentum plan and proposed budget. The meeting was over within one hour. WAKE UP VIRGINIANS - WMATA WANTS TO SUCK BILLIONS FROM OUR ECONOMY AND SAYS THAT TAXPAYERS SHOULD PAY RATHER THAN RIDERS. The WMATA Board did away with a 20 cent "peak of the peak" fare last year relying instead on more subsidies from WMATA compact jurisdictions and do not propose raising fares this year. GM Richard Sarles said upgrades needed for all 8 car service will cost $2 billion over the next 10+ years (up from $1.5 billion last October). Two years ago, Sarles told a Northern Virginia Transportation Commission meeting that the (then) goal was to increase Orange Line from 33% 8 car trains in 2010 to 50% by 2015 and 100% by 2020. The governments inside the Capital Beltway, having received $10 billion from Uncle Sam to build the original 103 mile system completed in 2001, do not want to pay anything for upgrades needed to expand capacity in peak hours. Given the inability to fund the increased peak hour capacity needed, including new elevators, escalators at stations like Metro Center and Gallery Place and expanded traction power stations in downtown area, the best means to raise capital is to charge double fares in peak periods to lessen the congestion on 6 car trains and use reserve funds to build improvements needed.
Rob Whitfield February 17, 2013 at 07:54 PM
Here is a news story from WJLA about WMATA overtime income being paid. http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/02/only-on-7-some-metro-employees-make-more-in-overtime-than-base-pay-85307.html ABC7's Kris Van Cleave has uncovered a new report showing some Metro employees receive a staggering amount of money in overtime, totaling in some cases one and a half times their entire base salary. Last year, one bus driver earned almost $172,000 before taxes. While the average pay for station managers, Metrobus and Metrorail operators is about $67,000, those topping this overtime list made a whole lot more. Thanks to receiving $94,361 in overtime, a station manager made more than $165,000. A train operator made $156,417 last year, including $83,184 in overtime. Are they working too much and is this safe? The agency says there are mandatory rest periods for vehicle operators, but with the efforts to rebuild the system comes the need for overtime. Metro issued this statement: "The massive effort to rebuild Metro is well underway, and as part of it, there are times when additional personnel are needed to work. For example, bus operators may work extra hours to provide shuttle service to customers on weekends when rail stations are closed. Strategic use of overtime is common practice in the transit industry." Metro employs about 4,500 station managers, Metrobus and Metrorail operators, ...
Bob Bruhns February 18, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Bad information is a problem. Cost of upgrade to all 8 car Metro trains: $6 Billion per 2/1/2013 news media report. http://oakton.patch.com/articles/metro-momentum-offers-expansive-plans-for-system-s-future (See paragraph 16.) $2 Billion per 1/28/2013 WMATA draft report. http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/news/Momentum_Strategic_Plan_2013-01-28-secure.pdf (See 'Cost Estimate' on page 30.) I believe that the $6 Billion figure was accidentally picked up from page 29 of the 1/28/2013 WMATA draft report, where the $2 billion 8-car upgrade number was the first line item on the list that added up to the projected $6 Billion shown on that page. I submit that this demonstrates exactly why we need transparency in the estimates - NOBODY KNOWS what the upgrade should cost, and reporters studying the project made a 200% error. If official estimators were to happen to make a similar 200% error, then could we wind up paying $26 billion times three? ($78 Billion.) Well, we agreed to pay two times what the Dulles Rail / Silver Line project should have cost - so a three to one price excess here is quite possible. Should the price estimators be unchecked? Or should the public have the information it needs to decide whether to approve or reject a proposal? I'd say the proper response would be that the public should have the information it needs to decide whether to approve or reject a proposal. No? SO: WMATA - don't redact the line item prices, please.
Bob Bruhns February 19, 2013 at 07:15 AM
Bad information is a problem. Cost of upgrade to all 8-car Metro trains: $6 Billion per 2/1/2013 news media report. http://oakton.patch.com/articles/metro-momentum-offers-expansive-plans-for-system-s-future (See paragraph 16.) $2 Billion per 1/28/2013 WMATA draft report. http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/news/Momentum_Strategic_Plan_2013-01-28-secure.pdf (See 'Cost Estimate' on page 30.) I believe that the $6 Billion figure was accidentally picked up from page 29 of the 1/28/2013 WMATA draft report, where the $2 billion 8-car upgrade number was the first line item on the list that added up to the projected $6 Billion shown on that page. I submit that this demonstrates exactly why we need transparency in the estimates - NOBODY KNOWS what the upgrade should cost, and reporters studying the project made a 200% error. If official estimators were to happen to make a similar 200% error, then could we wind up paying $26 billion times three? ($78 Billion.) Well, we agreed to pay two times what the Dulles Rail / Silver Line project should have cost - so a three to one price excess here is quite possible. Should the price estimators be unchecked? Or should the public have the information it needs to decide whether to approve or reject a proposal? I'd say the proper response would be that the public should have the information it needs to decide whether to approve or reject a proposal. No? SO: WMATA - don't redact the line item prices, please.

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