Silver Line Parties to Meet with LaHood

U.S. Transportation Secretary getting involved to get stakeholders to agree on way forward with Rail to Dulles.

Stakeholders in Metro's Silver Line Phase 2 will meet on Wednesday with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in the hopes of avoiding a delay - or even a collapse of plans - to the second part of rail to Dulles, The Washington Post reports.

The move comes as the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said this week it would not put out requests for bids on the project until Loudoun County supervisors vote on whether to help pay for the project. The supervisors have until July 4. Fairfax Supervisors reconfirmed their support last week.

Phase 2 is scheduled to run from Reston's Wiehle Avenue to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County. However, there is growing concern about no federal funding, a dearth of state funding (Virginia lawmakers passed an $85 billion budget this week with no extra money for Metro),  tolls that could increase exponentially in order to cover rail costs and a mandatry project-labor agreement.

Last year, LaHood helped negotiate a deal among the stakeholders in the project -- MWAA, Metro, Loudoun and Fairfax counties, and Virginia --  on how to finance the nearly $3 billion rail line.

Construction on the second phase, which runs to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County, was expected to start in early 2013.


Bob Bruhns April 22, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Ours is not the only area having second thoughts about overpriced rail. It seems that the people of Hawaii are turning against the incredibly expensive elevated rail plan there - but their pro-rail propaganda machines are still chugging along, and their rail group has started building the thing, no doubt to force their plan on the public, despite pleas from officials to wait until final issues are resolved. Much like ours, their rail project mysteriously became more and more expensive, until now they are looking at $1.9 Billion in bonds, when the project was sold to the public and government as a non-borrowing job. I just discovered this report today. City Begins Construction on Rail Columns - Even Though They May Have to Be Torn Down Hawaii Reporter, April 21, 2012 http://www.hawaiireporter.com/city-begins-construction-on-rail-columns-even-though-they-may-have-to-be-torn-down/123
Just the Facts April 24, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Mr. Jackson has it partially correct. But it was Governor Toll Booth McDonnell that signed a memorandum of understanding with all the partners and then changed his mind on funding the project. Him and his Secretary of Transprtation are a disaster. He ran on fixing transportation. Did he fix it? His Secretary of Transportation just said, tolls are the new way to fund transportation. Well let's see, we will have the HOT Lanes, Dulles Toll Road and the Greenway. So basically if you live in Northern Virginia you will have to pay everyday to get to work, go to the store, take the kids to soccer practice, go out to dinner, maybe just take a drive to the Leesburg Outlets. Take out your wallet because it will cost you big time. Thanks to Governor Toll Booth not funding transportation in Northern Virginia .....again. So if the Greenway is around $5.00 one way now, the Dulles Toll Road will be around $7.00 one way. I have no idea how much tolls will be on the Hot Lanes. The minimum wage is $7.25. How will the poor get around? How will those just trying to get to work be able to afford this? You will see businesses move from Northern Virginia. All those businesses along the Dulles Cooridor will start to look at other locations to do business. Home sales and apartments will also see a sharp decline. All because it's getting too expensive to live in Northern Virginia. I guess this is the republican way. Only the rich will survive.
Rob Whitfield April 24, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Posters such as "Just the Facts" who hide under their skirts and mislead the public with distortions should not be allowed to post on the Patch. Most Dulles Rail planning and funding decisions were made between 2005 and 2009 by Governor Tim Kaine and his pals at MWAA, assisted by the Democrat dunces on the Fairfax County Board. MWAA has duped the public, increasing their toll forecasts repeatedly since January 2006. They are an unelected, unaccountable body, most of whom do not even live in Virginia. Tim Kaine selected MWAA without a public hearing or General Assembly approval to build the rail project so he could help his union patrons win lucrative construction contracts and gain campaign contributions from Tysons Corner and Dulles Corner station area landowners. Few Republicans and NO Democrats have shown any leadership on the entire Dulles Rail plan. The proposed $300 million toll buydown will do little to impact MWAA's overall plans for $17 billion in projected tolls over the next 50 years. Pierce Homer, the former Virginia Transportation Secretary, told an audience in Richmond in 2008 that the Governor gave the Dulles Toll Road to MWAA because he did not want the Commonwealth to bear the financial risks of the rail project. Voters, guess who Kaine wanted to foot the bill. Arlington County, Alexandria, Falls Church, DC and Maryland? No, Fairfax and Loudoun County voters. Joe Ritchey warned Reston Association in 2009. Did they listen? NO!
Bob Bruhns April 24, 2012 at 08:50 PM
And the inexcusable double price of Dulles Rail Phase II makes the contracts obscenely lucrative, at staggering expense to the drivers and taxpayers of this region for GENERATIONS. It's time for people to wake up, because what is happening here needs to be STOPPED.
Just the Facts April 24, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Look I don't care what party did what back in the day. I know Wolf also proposed MWAA take the rail project but why let facts get in the way of a good story. Then Gov Kaine was able to secure 900 million from the Federal Government for Phase 1 or this project would have never happened. I did not see this Governor or Congressman Wolf get the project ANY money. This airport is not Virginia's airport. It's the federal Government's. So Frank should have actually done his job and got the people of Northern Va more money. Those are the facts. Still I have yet to hear from anyone on this site what Gov Toll Booth has done for the people of Northern Va. Still waiting.
Bob Bruhns April 25, 2012 at 02:41 AM
It is clearly a really bad deal, because it costs two times what it should. As a matter of fact, it is a horrible deal, because every other overpriced boondoggle in the country will point to this ripoff and say "Oh, well that's what a little local rail line mostly on-ground, in an established right-of-way, should cost. I guess WE are just supposed to get billions of dollars of excessive profits, while the rest of you are supposed to struggle for generations to pay for stuff you really don't need. Yeah, stuff that we really don't need. We aren't up to the necessary population density. Kaine merely got a bad deal going. The fact that he wangled $900 million of US taxpayer money for it, isn't a plus. What we should have been doing is establishing the right of way (which we did), and probably run a BUS system in the meantime (which we also did).
Just the Facts April 25, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Please Frank Wolf only is made at MWAA because they wanted to use a labor agreement and that is against his ideology. MWAA from what i can see I'd doing nothing wrong on this project. The costs for large infrastructure projects are high. That is just a fact. But Wolf just likes to blame other for his lack of leadership. He wants to blame Mwaa because it takes the target off of him. Just what has MWAA done wrong? I hear they have not managed the project well but from what I read in the Washigton Post editorial it appears MWAA may just have it right and it's all about ideology and politics that are messing up this project. MWAA wanted to go with an underground station but finally backed off it becaus of the cost. What else have they done wrong that is not about ideology? Wolf would says they are dysfunctional. But he never says why they are dysfunctional. Again, shifting the target off himself.
Bob Bruhns April 25, 2012 at 04:15 AM
The cost for this particular infrastructure project is two times what it should be, based on the cost of other comparable jobs. So yes, those other jobs were expensive infrastructure jobs - but Dulles Rail Phase II, is an unmitigated ripoff. Not only is MWAA - and FTA, interestingly enough - handing us double sized prices, MWAA handed us a HORRIBLE design at Dulles Airport. A loop of three miles of elevated track, instead of the simple on-ground dead-end spur that it should be. The only thing that could have been worse, was what they were PUSHING - a three mile loop of underground tunnel. I'm not sure who hands this dubious bunch of political appointees their marching orders, but they need to be stopped.
Just the Facts April 25, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Bottom line large infrastructure projects are expensive. If the Federal Government , State Governments are not going to find rail or roads then we will soon have a crumbling infrastructure problem more then we do now. The failure to fund transportation is a huge problem. How many bridges in the Commonwealth are structurally deficient ? For a sitting Governor to kick the can down the road is irresponsible . I don't care what party you belong, It's very irresponsible to not fund transportation.
Rob Whitfield April 25, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Just the Facts claim that MWAA is doing nothing wrong on Dulles Rail shows profound ignorance. Do you really think that the Washington Post has investigated most project problems and infeasibility or made any effort to check out financial issues and the lack of projected ridership? The federally owned airports are leased to MWAA for a term ending in 2067. Dulles Toll Road was built and funded by Virginia taxpayers without federal assistance. DTR users have paid over $1 billion in tolls since 1984. The MWAA Board is run mostly by Democrats who seem to care little about Dulles or the impact of their actions on Virginia taxpayers. I have attended most Board and Committee meetings since 2008. Some Board members and actions have been very dysfunctional or placed politics ahead of wisdom and financial prudence. The MWAA Board has benefited from the service of many dedicated staff and several Board professionals - Bob Clarke Brown and Frank "Rusty" Connor among them - but the Board has ignored project cost effectiveness and not curbed excessive spending increases. Governor Mark Warner, now US Senator, aided by Congressman Wolf and then US Senators John Warner and George Allen, helped gain the $900 million in Phase 1 federal funding. President G.W. Bush's Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta helped shepherd the project through EIS approval. Then Mary Peters oversaw the technical review and FFGA process. Many problems were ignored before but must now be resolved.
Just the Facts April 25, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Phase 2 of Dulles Rail is a design build contract. If as one person on here mentioed the design is too expensive, I would assume a contractor bidding on this design build contract will offer a different design that will save the project money. If that is the case then hopefully the tolls will get reduced as well. Why complain about mwaa's design if it's a design build contract. Let's see what the contractors bidding phase 2 come up with before complaining about the design at the airport. That is the benefit of a design build contract. You might get innovative designs that save the project money.
Just the Facts April 25, 2012 at 03:01 PM
I need a clarification about MWAA. How many Board members do they have? How many are from Va? How many are from MD? How many are from DC? How many are federal appointees? Who are the Va appointees?
Just the Facts April 25, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Ron Whitfield said MWAA is dysfunctional. But he does not say why? I need specifics regardiing why they are dysfunctional? He mentions two members are good but does not say why they are good. If people are dysfunctional I would like to know what they did to earn this title.
Rob Whitfield April 25, 2012 at 03:26 PM
MWAA has 13 appointed Board members: five from Virginia, three from DC, two from Maryland, three federal appointees. Board of Directors: Chairman Michael A. Curto, Vice Chairman The Honorable Thomas M. Davis III; Robert Clarke Brown; Richard S. Carter; The Honorable William W. Cobey Jr.;Frank M. Conner III; The Honorable H.R. Crawford; Shirley Robinson Hall; Dennis L. Martire; Michael L. O'Reilly; Warner H. Session; Todd A. Stottlemyer. Authority Management: President and Chief Executive Officer -John E. Potter; Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer -Margaret E. McKeough Vice President and Secretary - Quince T. Brinkley, Jr. The recent death of former Chairman Charles Snelling, a President GW Bush appointee, leaves one federal vacancy. Bob Clarke Brown and Bill Cobey are to step down shortly. In November 2011, Congress approved and the President signed a bill authorizing expansion of the Board to 17 members: adding two from Virginia, one from DC and one from Maryland. Due to a claim by MWAA's Board that this action required ratification by the Virginia General Assembly and DC City Council, additional board appointees have not been seated. MWAA never sought Congressional approval or ratification by Virginia General Assembly and DC Council of expanded authority to allow the take over of Dulles Toll Road and construction of Dulles Rail. In my view, MWAA has exceeded its authority and those operations should be given back to the Commonwealth.
Rob Whitfield April 25, 2012 at 03:51 PM
I need to clarify my prior remarks. MWAA Board members today exhibit a high degree of professionalism overall. Such was not always the case. The issues they address are numerous and most of the time handled well - but lack public input. Differentiation should be made between actions of MWAA Board and staff in operating and developing our two Northern Virginia airports which has been handled mostly well during the 25 years of MWAA's existence versus their expanded role since 2006 handling the Dulles Toll Road and Dulles Rail. Few people complained about MWAA except some residents in Arlington and Alexandria near flight paths to Reagan National who wanted to limit jet aircraft operations and noise prior to the advent of Stage 3 jets circa 2000. In those days, when Jim Wilding was MWAA President and CEO, MWAA's decisions impacted mostly people "inside the airport fence," airport passengers and employees. By contrast, Dulles Toll Road operations impact many people outside the fence. The failure of MWAA to establish a public advisory board to handle issues and suggestions from residents and businesses in the Dulles Corridor associated with Dulles Rail development is one example. Prior to 2000, MWAA operated a "citizens advisory committee." It was abolished but I never learned why. You ask for an example of the MWAA dysfunctional board. See the following: http://www.baconsrebellion.com/2012/01/who-is-mamadi-diane-and-why-did-he-serve-on-the-mwaa-board-so-long.html
Just the Facts April 25, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Well if the MWAA Board is operating and managing the project pretty well then I don't see why they are called "dysfunctional". It appears Va has a majority on the Board now. So I fail to see why we need more members on the Board. Again, how does more members on the Mwaa Board make the Board better? I think it's just a distraction for the Governor to blame his failure to fund Rail on something other then him screwing up. This is what I hate about politicians. Always blaming something or someone else for them not doing the job they were elected to do.
Bob Bruhns April 25, 2012 at 05:16 PM
The problem is not just that infrastructure is expensive, the problem is that Dulles Rail Phase II is off the scale in price, overall and for the elements of its individual item costs that MWAA and FTA happened to reveal in July 2011. The overall cost per mile is inexplicably two times what it should be, compared to the cost per mile of the Franconia-Springfield Metro extension of 1997, allowing for inflation since then. The FTA July 3, 2011 White Paper showed a Rt 28 station cost first of $136 million, but that wrongly included the $53 million Rt 28 parking garage. Later in July 2011, they quietly corrected that, and listed the estimate as $83 million. But $83 million is TWO TIMES what a comparable Metro station, completed in December 2011, cost in Fairfield Connecticut. And the cost of the parking garages of Dulles Rail Phase II is $26,394 per space, compared to a US average of about $15,500 per space. The cost in Baltimore MD is around $14,500 per space. The official estimate for the Town of Herndon Municipal parking garage is $15,000 per square foot. So it's not just expensive infrastructure, JTF - it's a ripoff on top of that! So pay attention to the DOT audit that is going on now, hidden by our leaders and by our news media. Oh wait, Gov. McDonnell mentioned it in passing on Tuesday - so the news media might pick up on it by September 2016 or something.
Rob Whitfield April 25, 2012 at 07:11 PM
JTF, you are mistaken. Virginia has five of thirteen MWAA Board seats, not a majority. If the DC Council ratifies the proposed expansion agreement, Virginia will have seven of seventeen members. My view is that MWAA's Dulles Toll Road/Dulles Rail Board should be comprised ONLY of Virginians. If Governor Kaine had any brains, he would have insisted on that requirement in 2006. He's a useless windbag from southern Virginia; he should stay there. What would Marylanders do or say if Virginia insisted on having seats on the Baltimore Washington International Airport Board and the MD Transportation Authority? How would Baltimoreans react if Virginia help set rates on the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and Susequehanna River Bridge? The Virginia General Assembly should convene a special session this summer to give an ultimatum to MWAA: Change your by laws and operating procedures to comply with all Virginia laws, including freedom of information act disclosure and no mandated labor union contract provisions, or else hand back the Dulles Toll Road and Dulles Rail to Virginia. The GA should also demand radical changes in the management, safety and operating performance of the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority. If Virginia accounts for one third of the Metrorail trackage when the Silver Line opens to Reston, then at least 25% of WMATA Metrorail employees must live in Virginia. Bob Bruhns is right about garage costs. Just look at Wiehle Avenue garage. $100+ million.
Just the Facts April 25, 2012 at 08:31 PM
As far as the project labor agreement goes the entire Board voted for it. Then the Board went to a voluntary agreement but offered an incentive if they used the current Agreement. Everyone voted for it including all the Virginia representatives. Congressman Tom Davis even voted for it. So I assume the agreement must be good for the project or these Board member appointed by Gov Toll Booth would have voted against it. Please correct me if I'm wrong but they did all vote for it correct? I would like to know if Tom Davis did vote for it because I was told he did. I don't think anyone cares how it's built as long as its built and uses a low bid. All this fight about union or non union means nothing to me as long as they take the low bid.
Rob Whitfield April 25, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Tom Davis was appointed to MWAA Board in November 2010. In April 2011, I did not see who voted for the original Project Labor Agreement as most observers were shunted to a room downstairs because of a lack of seats in the Boardroom. You are likely correct that Davis voted for the project labor preference agreement in March 2012 because the Board was told that what was proposed mirrors current federal contract procurement provisions. I am not an attorney so offer no opinion on the legal authority of the following document, alleged to have been signed by MWAA and other Phase 2 parties: http://thetruthaboutplas.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/AGREEMENT-BY-AND-BETWEEN-THE-COMMONWEALTH-OF-VIRGINIA-AND-THE-METROPOLITAN-WASHINGTON-AIRPORTS-AUTHORITY-CONCERNING-PROJECT-LABOR-AGREEMENTS-FOR-PHASE-2-OF-THE-DULLES-METRORAIL-PROJECT.pdf
Rob Whitfield April 25, 2012 at 10:16 PM
The $6+ billion Dulles Rail capital costs are to be funded mostly by debt. By contrast the first 103 miles of Metrorail was mainly funded by federal grants with remaining funds provided by WMATA compact members. My understanding is that no state funding sources were used. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GAOREPORTS-GAO-05-358T/html/GAOREPORTS-GAO-05-358T.htm "From 1969 through 1999, the federal government provided about $6.2 billion of the approximately $10 billion that WMATA spent to construct the original 103-mile system. About two-thirds of this federal funding, or $4.1 billion, came from direct appropriations. The remaining federal funding, about $2.1 billion, came from unused federal Interstate highway funds. In addition, non-federal entities provided about $2.1 billion for Metrorail's construction, and about $1.7 billion came from revenue bonds, and other sources." Federal Dulles Rail funding is $900 million of the almost $3 billion Phase 1 costs. Fairfax County is providing 16.1% of capital costs with Tax Districts totaling $730 million for both phases, the balance to be determined. The MWAA share is projected at $220 million (4.1%) and Loudoun County share at $260 million (4.8%) Unless we can force change, over 50% of Dulles Rail funding proposed is to come from Dulles Toll Road revenue bonds, rated BBB, a near junk bond rating. So far, $1.3+ billion in DTR bonds have been sold at an average yield of about 6.05%. Federal TIFIA fund rates are 3.15% today.
Rob Whitfield April 25, 2012 at 10:21 PM
USDOT REJECTS TIFIA FUNDING FOR DULLES RAIL - APRIL 24, 2012 http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ipd/tifia/news/#five%22 U.S. Department of Transportation Invites Five Projects to Apply for FY 2012 TIFIA Credit Assistance In response to the Fiscal Year 2012 Notice of Funding Availability (FY 2012 NOFA), DOT received 26 Letters of Interest (LOIs) seeking more than $13 billion in credit assistance to finance approximately $36 billion in infrastructure investment across the country. While TIFIA’s limited resources mean that not all of the LOIs can be selected, five projects are being invited to apply for credit assistance. These projects include: the I-95 HOT Lanes project in Northern Virginia; the North Tarrant Express Segments 3a and 3b project in Tarrant County, Texas; the Port of Long Beach Gerald Desmond Bridge project in Long Beach, California; the SR 91 Corridor Improvements project in Riverside County, California; and the US 36 Phase 2 project, between Denver and Boulder, Colorado. The projects invited to apply are well aligned with the TIFIA statutory selection criteria. The invitation to apply does not guarantee that the project will receive assistance. The Department will evaluate each project to determine its creditworthiness and negotiate acceptable terms for providing credit support. Links to the press releases for the five projects invited to apply for TIFIA credit assistance are provided below. Read the I-95 HOT Lanes Project Press Release
Bob Bruhns April 26, 2012 at 12:14 AM
The 1.5-million-square-foot Wiehle Avenue garage has 2300 spaces and seven levels, all underground. The price I saw a year ago was $91.3 million; has it inflated? http://reston.patch.com/articles/community-business-leaders-break-ground-at-reston-station#video-5529270 At $91.3 million, the cost of this parking garage is about $40,000 per space. If the price has inflated to $100 million, the per-space cost is about $43,700 per space. Yikes! That price is high, definitely a Central Business District level cost. Wiehle Avenue is DEFINITELY not that citified - but shockingly high prices seem to be what Dulles Rail is all about.
Bob Bruhns April 26, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Well, if Dulles Rail Phase II did not cost two times what it should cost, and if it met the requirements that normally apply for heavy rail in the USA, then perhaps grant money might be forthcoming, But as things are, we are on our own. Maybe it might be time to stop, take this away from MWAA, re-plan Phase II properly, and get the price of this lilttle rail line down to earth - lest we proceed to bankrupt ourselves? As I said, Mr. Kaine did us no favors when he bent the rules to start this rail line that we do not need, and can not afford.
Just the Facts April 26, 2012 at 01:35 AM
That project was taken away from mwaa's scope. It was a no bid contract and was given to two Maryland Contractors. No PLA but all Maryland participation. The parking garage is all concrete instead of pre-fab. This is the main reason for the higher costs. But the developer somehow took this away from MWAA and had a no bid contract. Funny I never heard Gov Toll Booth complain about the out of state contractors and workers doing this project. Also the no competition bidding process smelled as well. Maybe they gave to his campaign so he looked the other way. Don't you just hate these guys?
Bob Bruhns April 26, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Here we go again. Cheap-shot, fingerpointing politics - while Dulles Rail Phase II costs two times what it should, and the financial plan to pay for it, is bogus. People never face the excessive cost, they simply argue over who should pay the double price and interest. The super-secret DOT financial audit results will be released in about three weeks. I hope the political players have their scripts ready, so that they can point at each other and argue over who made the prices so high, and who made the fake financial plan - while (of course) not doing a THING to bring the price down to earth or deal with the bogus financial plan even then. The rest of us might consider what to do when we are told that the cost is two times what it should be, and that the finance plan is bogus. We need to take the keys away from MWAA and the political players, and do it right - or not at all.
Bob Bruhns April 26, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Also, I don't see documentation that the difference between pre-fab and pour-in-place parking garage construction costs should account for a 70% increase in price for pour-in-place construction. Can anybody provide links to documentation that says this?
Bob Bruhns April 29, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Somebody, not surprisingly using a pen-name, said "The parking garage is all concrete instead of pre-fab. This is the main reason for the higher costs." I found no evidence that this would increase the costs anywhere near the 70% that I showed, so I asked for documentation of that. No documentation of the claim was provided. This is not the first time this has happened. The proponents of double priced rail can not defend their numbers, or their stories and claims - so they use pen-names and simply make stuff up, figuring that nobody will check it. The truth is that Dulles Rail Phase II should cost HALF of what we are being told - even without the Enron-level financial game of hiding the cost of Rt 28 station and the Phase II parking garages, by dumping them on the very counties from which these costs are being hidden. This would be a comical farce, if it wasn't locking us, our children and our grandchildren, into generations of massively excessive payments. People really do need to wake up.
HardHatMommy April 30, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Seriously? We all know the story by now. The Feds have made clear that Phase 2 doesn't even come close to passing their test for projects that are eligible for federal money. There is no money coming from the Feds and there is nothing anyone, not Wolf, Webb, Warner, can do about that. Let's move on and be productive in trying to figure out a solution that is viable and stop dreaming of federal money we aren't eligible to receive.
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