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Bulova: Find Federal Funds for Phase 2

Fairfax County Supervisors Chair says Rail to Dulles is too important to fall victim to state, local issues.

Rail to Dulles was a focus at Tuesday's Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting, where Chairman Sharon Bulova called on the county’s federal representatives to pursue any and all avenues for providing federal funding for Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

Bulova also signed a letter from the supervisors to Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton, objecting to the administration’s attempt to "circumvent the efficient transit funding system" Northern Virginia has used for decades, it reads.

The future of for months as the project faces a lack of federal funding and

Phase 1 of the Silver Line will run from Tysons Corner to Reston's Wiehle Avenue. It received $900 million in federal funding and is on track to open in December 2013.

Phase 2—slated to run from Wiehle to Dulles International and into Loudoun County—has received no federal funding. The Commonwealth of Virginia has pledged $150 million, which will likely be paid now that the project labor agreement has been dropped. However, some Metro board members have expressed skepticism that Virginia will come through with its fair share.

There has also been backlash from Dulles Toll Road

In April, Fairfax County Supervisors

Bulova pointed out on Tuesday the importance of the Silver Line to the region.

“[Rail to Dulles] will bring transit to our major international airport, provide connections to some of the county’s major business centers, and will serve as a gateway to Washington, DC, and the National Capital Region," she said in a statement.

"The Dulles Rail extension is not simply a Fairfax County project or even a regional project – it is a project of national significance. As U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood has stated, the Metro system is ‘America’s system,’ providing access for millions of riders to the nation’s capital,” said Bulova. 

Bulova said possible sources for federal funding could include FY2013 appropriations, transportation reauthorization, transportation funding returned by the states and President Barack Obama’s FY2014 budget request.

“Given the national scope and importance of this project to the National Capital Region and to the federal workforce, the County should explore every opportunity for obtaining federal funding for this essential project,” she said.

The board matter was moved jointly with Supervisors Jeff McKay and Catherine Hudgins.

In the letter to Connaughton, Bulova—along with other regional leaders—pointed out how state methods have complicated the goals of funding transit.

“[The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission]’s current formula is the result of significant regional negotiations and collaboration to develop effective transit operations that does not stop at jurisdictional boundaries," the letter reads. "Unfortunately, this unexpected [Department of Rail and Public Transportation] action occurred without any consultation, which would have quickly identified some serious concerns."

At issue is a change in the way the Commonwealth directs distribution of its financial assistance for transit to Northern Virginia localities. Currently, the DRPT forwards that money to the NVTC, which allocates it based on the decades-old Subsidy Allocation Model (SAM).

The model is in state code, and failure to allocate state assistance to WMATA using it (as DRPT is attempting to do) would violate state law, the letter's authors say.

SAM has been used by NVTC since 1974, and no state representative has ever voted against it.

The letter’s authors say the SAM helps “cushion the impact” of unexpected changes in state transit aid, especially for smaller jurisdictions. The mayors and chairs also decry the short notice for this change.

 “It is not reasonable to change NVTC’s successful and long-standing process with only ten days notice after FY2013 local budgets have been adopted and after NVTC had complete applications for the state aid [at issue],” they write. ““The new policy will create local winners and losers with no time to identify other workable solutions to achieve DRPT’s objectives. NVTC is not aware of any factor that necessitates a rush to action.”

Signers of the letter include Chairman Sharon Bulova, NVTC Chairman Jay Fisette, Arlington Board Chairman Mary Hynes, Falls Church Mayor Nader Baroukh, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille and City of Fairfax Mayor Robert Lederer.

Bob Bruhns June 24, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Speaking of clowns, Loudoun County BOS Chairman Scott York suddenly started supporting this rail fiasco when the FTA dumped the bloated costs of the Rt 772 and Rt 606 parking garages onto Loudoun County. Now that MWAA seems to think that those garages should cost $168 million instead of the already bloated $130.3 million, maybe it's time to think back to May 2011, when Mr. York felt differently. Flip, flop. Draw your own conclusions. Loudoun Continues Opposition to MWAA Dulles Rail Station Decision WUSA TV9, May 17th, 2011 http://reston.wusa9.com/news/business/loudoun-continues-opposition-mwaa-dulles-rail-station-decision/57581 “MWAA is causing this project to derail,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott K. York. “The numbers aren’t adding up and when the numbers don’t add up, you can’t continue making decisions that are costing the project more and more.”
Tammi Petrine June 24, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Rob, do you seriously, personally think the DTR will attract MORE riders with the exorbitant tolls planned now by MWAA??? I know what the Fairfax County DOT "thinks" but they are not paying the tolls 2X everyday!!! Please keep in mind that our Fairfax County "officials" got the DTR users into this outrageous predicament in the first place. They can not be accused of being sensitive to the realities of expecting one tiny demographic that ALREADY pays for gas, maintenance, insurance, taxes/fees and car payments to ADDITIONALLY pay 54% of the entire Silver Line Costs in continually escalating tolls!!! We are talking of 54% of over $6 BILLION of actual costs PLUS $17 Billion for 40 years of financing!!! The lack of foresight and fairness by them is appalling and unprecedented in the history of the county AND the state... And when questioned about it, our Fairfax Supervisors and State of Virginia elected officials profess to be "working on a solution." A far better course of action would be to properly plan for the expenses of large projects in ADVANCE of commitment. Now MWAA, a rogue, non-elected organization with no allegiance to the DTR corridor has control of the tolls... now a wonderful funding resource for any project that furthers THEIR goals of supporting National and Dulles Airports with no oversight by local government has fallen into their laps...
Tammi Petrine June 24, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Continued: And it gets worse: This same group is also responsible for the building of the Silver Line. What impetus do they have to monitor costs closely with open-ended tolls at their disposal??? Talk about fox in the chicken coop!!! The lapses in judgment by so many in this fiasco are beyond stultifying.
Bob Bruhns June 24, 2012 at 08:19 PM
On January 1, 2013, the tolls will jump to $4.50 or so - one way - and that's when you will hear howling from the drivers, and howling from the people living and working in areas where the roads will be swamped with cars trying to avoid the usurious tolls that our so-called 'leaders' set us up to pay, and now claim to be looking for ways to reduce. The idea is to have this bad deal signed and locked in by that time, so we have no way out. After acting completely surprised, the so-called 'leaders' of Fairfax and Loudoun Counties will then reveal their so-called 'solution' - paying down the tolls with billion dollar bonds, costing their taxpayers 50 to 75 million a year, for fifty years. And then WMATA will lower the boom with $13 billion of deferred maintenance that they need to fund. Shortly thereafter, repeated jamming of the Rosslyn tunnel will require more tunnels... and WMATA will be looking for funding for that, too. Won't that be fun. All of this, for a premature little rail line that costs two times what it should, and is not needed. Oh yes, our so-called 'leaders' are looking for ways to lower the tolls, or something, as they whistle and look the other way. Right.
Rob Jackson June 24, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Mr. Jones, you have hit on a very important issue - what is the realistic capacity of the Silver Line to serve Tysons and the rest of the Dulles Corridor and to connect riders to both Downtown D.C. and Dulles International Airport. No one is talking about this. The total capacity for the combined Silver and Orange Lines is 17 trains per hour in each direction. With Rush+, WAMTA is now running 17 Orange Line trains at peak demand times. How many Orange Line trains will WMATA pull off the line to add Silver Line trains? We deserve to know the answer now.

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