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Business Leaders Call for Rejecting Rail PLA

Area Chambers support returning to labor agreement of Silver Line Phase 1 as stakeholders prepare for Wednesday's meeting with LaHood.

Update, May 3: The stakeholders met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on Wednesday. While LaHood told The Washington Post the meeting moved the ball forward in the discussion, no decisions were made.

LaHood told the Post the incentive on the project labor agreement is a “sticking point” for Virginia and Loudoun officials. He said he plans to call a meeting with the airports authority and Virginia officials to “work out the project labor issue to the satisfaction” of both.

LaHood said he had “every confidence that this project will move forward.”

No date has been set for the next meeting.

Original story May 2: Stakeholders in Metrorail's Silver Line Phase 2 will in the hopes of staving off a delay - or perhaps a collapse - of plans for the rail to run to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County.

Local business leaders hope that abandoning the project labor agreement will be part of the plan to move forward.

“We are calling on all funding partners to encourage MWAA to drop the PLA preference and focus on the desired outcomes — not terminology”,  Tony Howard, president of the Loudoun County Chamber, said in a statement.

At issue is whether unionized labor should be given an advantage in getting contracts for project. In screening bids, MWAA wants to give a 10-percent bonus to contractors who agree to a project labor agreement.

Mark Ingrao, president and CEO of the says his chamber and others nearby support going back to the system used to construct Phase 1, which will run from Tysons Corner to Reston's Wiehle Avenue. Phase 1 is expected to be finished in late 2013.

“Every prime contractor responding to the MWAA contract process should clearly understand that the funding partners expect them to provide a well-qualified and reliable workforce to build Phase 2 of the project — as clearly stated in the memorandum of understanding negotiated through the leadership of Secretary LaHood," Ingrao said. "As evidence of the advantage this approach yields, one needs only to look to the success in Phase 1 that focused on workforce qualification issues and performance standards.”

Virginia Senate candidate and former governor

The stakeholders are meeting with LaHood after MWAA said last 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 last 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.

Tom Kellner May 07, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Ms Csonka, According to Wikipedia, the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride has been in existense since 1999. I am guessing that the express bus service to West Falls Church has been here approximately that long also. I have commuted on this bus line multiple times and can tell you that it works and works well during peak hours (not so well during non-peak). Mass transit is not coming; it is here. And it has been here a good long while. Would you please share with us how heavy rail is going to be better, faster and cheaper since the rail is essentially going to mimic the service we now have? From all indications, the level of service will be substantially slower and much more expensive than what we have.
Bob Bruhns May 07, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Ann, Dulles Rail Phase II isn't about Herndon's past projects. Some things in Dulles Rail were planned reasonably well - the basic right of way, for example, although somebody sure dropped the ball in Tysons Corner. But forty years of planning clearly isn't enough, because the plan at the airport was bungled on top of bungled, the financing is bogus, and the cost is two times what it should be. Yes, I know, you don't care what price we pay. And all I hear are impatient complaints, when the whole job is already being done probably thirty years prematurely, and people have the gall to pretend that this is all about getting a lower cost. News Flash: double cost is not lower cost. And it's MWAA's bungling misanagement of this project, and somebody's bad pricing (that gee, even the FTA somehow didn't happen to notice), that is causing that price to skyrocket - not some mysterious localized hyperinflation phenomenon. Sorry if you are tired of hearing it, but I'm not interested in paying twice, plus interest on more than half, thank you. And other people are starting to catch on. Rail at any price? No thanks, this is the REAL world.
Bob Bruhns May 07, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Also Ann, Dan said nothing of consequence. The union labor issue isn't the big cost issue. And I wouldn't care if people had been fumbling with this thing for a century, there is no reason that a Phase II rail station should cost two times as much as a comparable Metro station in Fairfield Conncticut, there is no reason why the cost per mile is bloated, even compared to the inflation-corrected costs of a comparable job from 15 years ago, and there is no reason why the parking garage estimates are high by 76%. That has nothing to do with 40 years of planning, Ann. Absolutely nothing. How could you think that it did? Tell me, how did forty years of planning result in bloated estimates now? Did the planners from 1975 bill Phase II or something? Come on, now. As for the economic engine, this mess will drive traffic off of the Toll Road - just wait until you see what that does to traffic around here. Then, when a Billion dollar plus bond is floated to fix that - probably by Fairfax County - our bond rating will drop like a rock, much like our income from federal money that is just about history now. There will be one little rail line moving people back and forth on one thin little line, and some very rich and happy contractors. Traffic is not expected to be affected at all, but costs will rise, and rise, and rise. The engine, if anything, will stall. Wake up.
Bob Bruhns May 07, 2012 at 10:58 AM
With a Billion and a half dollars of overcharge at stake, and some of it heading toward their own pockets, I think that some corrupt people in high places would certainly be strongly motivated to hand out all kinds of bogus talking points to participants in whatever bizarre political alliance is behind this ripoff known as Dulles Rail Phase II. But I submit that they went WAY overboard in the ripoff that is behind all of this smoke, because the falsehoods in those talking points are quite evident, and easily demonstrated. I assume that the top people in this incredible scam did not expect enough people to actually use their heads, or act in time, before the robbery had been completed. But the party is over, and times have changed. A lot of us notice and are startled by massively bloated prices that are run up the flagpole by our governments. We have seen enough of that stuff, and it just keeps getting bigger, and we will no longer allow it to go by unchallenged. And this Phase II nonsense is so ridiculous that it can not withstand any examination at all. People need to take a look at the real facts, and decide whether this rail line is really worth the bloated price we have been handed. Given the truth, I don't think they will go for it. And partisan supporters with actual integrity, who have been misdirected by their leadership, should look at the inconvenient facts, and recognize that they are being used for a bad purpose, and join us in opposing it.
Larry May 10, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Put it to a vote in Loudoun county. I can see metro to the Dulles airpot at their expense, but not much good west of the airport. It will be a big waste of time and money spent on something that will be seldom used. Ok, perhaps in the year 3012, but it's 2012 and Loudoun just doesn't have the population for it. On another note, most forget we're dealing with a corrupt MWAA, which most in northern va hate. Thanks to Tim Kaine, they control the dulles toll RD. Boy if that doesn't suck. Next, metro is a poorly run agency. Workers overpaid, way too many chiefs, maintenance issues, safety issues, train issues and very expensive to ride(and park) daily.

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