Like many Loudouners, I’m just about fed up with the political circus surrounding the decision of whether to bring the Metro into our county. As we come closer to the deciding vote, I’m concerned that some of our supervisors are shortsightedly kowtowing to a loud minority opposed to economic development in Loudoun.
Many rail opponents like to temper their opposition with the implication that we can wait around for a revised plan to come around, but that’s not going to happen. We won’t have this opportunity again. The DC metro area is going to keep growing, with the international airport right in our backyard as a primary driver, and our choice is whether to bring that growth to Loudoun or give it all to Fairfax. If we back out and make Dulles the western terminus of the Silver Line, it will almost certainly remain the terminus. We will be stuck with no alternative to ever-increasing congestion and very limited room to expand roads. We have to decide whether we want to be a bedroom community or a vibrant and prosperous mix of rural culture and commercial opportunity.
Make no mistake that by forcing the rail to terminate at Dulles we hurt ourselves greatly in the long run. We’ve heard plenty of inflated cost projections from Metro’s political opponents but we don’t hear enough about the permanent opportunity costs of backing out of the project. Tens of thousands of jobs, upwards of 10% greater economic growth, a cleaner and more affordable commute into Washington, and developing Loudoun into a national destination for commerce. That is the beginning of what we would lose if we were to step away from the Silver Line.
I want to believe that our supervisors will decide that Loudoun’s future is more important than petty politics, and I hope they will prove me right by bringing rail to Loudoun. Let’s not get left behind.