To the Editor:
In just a few weeks our Loudoun Board of Supervisors will decide on the largest financial transaction in the county’s history. The annual expenditure will be the second-largest budget item after schools.
Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) has circulated an online survey soliciting constituent input on the Dulles Rail project. I believe her intentions are good, but I ask her, and all the other supervisors, to educate the public with a series of thorough presentations sharing both sides of the rail issue.
Many in our county have spent countless hours looking for answers to the basic questions about Rail to Loudoun, and have found substantial reason to conclude three things:
- The construction cost to build this is enormous, currently estimated at $350 million (roughly the cost of 7 new schools}. With interest the total cost will be $750 million (the cost of 15 new schools).
- The mandatory contribution to Metro would be astronomical, but the actual amount is being concealed. The best estimate is a $100 million/year subsidy to Metro, FOREVER.
- The economic benefit of this project is dubious at best, with a reputable study predicting this will be a perpetual loser. Their best estimate is $8 million/year in income against a $20 million/year 30-year mortgage payment for building the line, plus the $100 million/year Metro subsidy. In simple math that is a $112 million annual loss.
With that said, polling people on their Rail opinions before educating them on such a weighty decision is not responsible leadership. The good news is that Loudoun can opt out if they choose to and the rail will go to Dulles anyway.
Janet is a dedicated public servant and I hope she and the rest of our supervisors will prove themselves in the years to come.
The key to a good decision is good information, and then putting that good information to use. Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” Let’s help our board think this through.
Jon Garber Sr.