I am not a politician, a lawyer or a pundit, I am a tax payer who calls it as I see it.
There are a few issues with various parties involved with bringing the Silver line to Loudoun County.
Firstly, we have the Washington Metro Airports Authority (WMAA), who have very little accountability but seem to be calling the shots. And if they don't get their way they will threaten to toll the heck out of commuters of the Toll Road or pull certain skilled workers from the project.
Secondly, the Metro Project itself. I'm not an accountant or a statistician. But I can't help and wonder why this project was not a firm fixed price model. This would have kept cost in check and held all parties financially accountable. In 2008 WMAA & DTP (Dulles Transportation Project) signed an updated fixed project price of $1.6 Billon but limited the project to $2.6B. To me that is too much financial wiggle room and no one has explained the cause for the stark difference in numbers. We are not talking a couple of thousand, we are talking about Billions of dollars.
Thirdly, Special Interest Groups and the current hot button issue; union versus non-union. In general I don't think Unions are bad or cause harm. The purpose of most unions is to protect the worker and their rights. But we often forget that Virginia is a right-to-work state and this can limit the Union's power in the Commonwealth.
However, the requirement of "Project Labor Agreements" (PLA) seems to be the most contentious and politically charged issue. PLAs have their benefits as do strong non-union project managers, but this is where playing politics can literally kill a project. As I understand it, PLAs typically bring in a higher skilled worker and this can often front load the labor cost. However projects with PLAs often keep cost down by delivering the project on time and have very few safety hazards.
Fourth, and the most important element of the project is: the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and the Virginia General Assembly.
If our new Board of Supervisors wants to take Loudoun to the "Next Level" you would think it would be imperative that they support and adequately fund this project. However the only substantive contribution this Board has made to the Metro project was; requesting a 30-day extension to review the project. Time is valuable and within that 30-day extension the Virginia General Assembly has signaled they are pulling $300 Million from this project.
In recent weeks the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors approved $583K for three—yes three—county sales positions. Without the benefit of mass transit, such as the Silver Line to entice large fortune 500 companies to move to Loudoun, our return on investment of these three sales position will be minimal at best.
The bottom line is our County, General Assembly, WMAA & CTP need to cooperatively work together and find a compromise to bring Metro to Loudoun. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, if Loudoun fails to approve a plan, Loudoun's economic development will continue to languish. The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors needs to stop playing politics with the Metro project, they need to compromise and learn that "compromise" is not a dirty word.
Erika M. Cotti
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