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LTE: Is This Train Worth It?

A reader questions value of proposed Metro Silver Line to Loudoun.

Dear Editor,

I am increasingly troubled by the impact of the Silver Line's extension on Loudoun households. I am certain that the rail proponents will present the Loudoun Board of Supervisors with an array of numbers sliced and diced to suit their arguments.

But even with limited time and no access to the services provided by county staff and consultants, I still find it relatively easy to conclude that heavy rail to Ashburn is NOT a better option than express bus transit. In reviewing the April 26 "Responses to Supervisors Questions" memorandum, I get the sense that County staff are going in circles, falling back on the consultant studies and WMAA statements to answer most of the questions that arise from those very studies. What about infrastructure costs?

For a regional transportation plan formulated over 40-odd years, why does Loudoun County still endure the maddening trickle of data from MWAA, while under a hard deadline to consider an agreement that binds us to a permanent unknown liability? When MWAA declares that the county's rail costs cannot be capped, why can't the county economists set a threshold at what the county can afford and limit taxpayers' exposure?

The answers might be obvious within the county offices, but as I ponder the implications of the Metrorail decision, it's clear that Loudoun commuters are pretty much screwed no matter what the Board decides. Having weathered a decade of tough economic times, and enormous increases in health insurance, car maintenance, and facing a choice between the kids' college or our retirement, here comes a toll increase that might compel us to leave our home because travel to work will become intolerable. We mark 20 years living in Loudoun this year, but sustaining it is looking bleak. Is this train really worth
it?

Robert M. Jones
North Fork

Leslie Ackerman May 05, 2012 at 12:56 PM
From the satus development of roads in Loudoun county, I do not have ANY doubts that the people resonpisble will make the WRONG decision. And for this we pay an egregious car tax.
Tax Pig May 05, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Ralph Buona is promoting misinformation in his Ashburn newsletter. He needs to stop getting his info from Malcolm Baldwin and Tim Kaine and check his facts. Ralph Buona directly contradicted the RCLCO Study, the Wilbur Smith Traffic Study, and the 2004 MWAA Environmental Impact Traffic analysis in his May 4 newsletter claiming: “Rail to Loudoun will provide much needed relief to some of our transportation congestion issues, and will spur commercial economic development which in-turn creates jobs. It will also expand the commercial tax base for Loudoun which is sorely needed to provide relief to our citizens in helping reduce real property taxes on our homes.” RCLCO Study: “...In RCLCO’s view there are not research studies that clearly support the view that rail investments catalyzes economic activity that would not otherwise have happened in a region...” Wilbur Smith: 18,000 trips per day will be pushed of the Dulles Toll Road and back onto already congested roads 2004 EIS “...In 2025, the full LPA (Locally Preffered Alternative=rail) would result in similar traffic volumes on regional routes to the No Build Alternative (no Rail).” This means that according to the MWAA study, $6 billion in rail money won’t improve traffic a lick.
Robbie May 05, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Supervisor York should visit LA when he gets back from China. http://www.streetfilms.org/las-orange-line-bus-rapid-transit-plus-bike-path/
Janie Oldham May 06, 2012 at 05:02 AM
How can we leave Loudoun when no one will want to buy our houses because there will be no good way to commute to DC. If the board of supervisors approves the metro no one will want to buy a house in Loudoun because metro will cost, with parking, about $20 a day and the tolls will cost us that much too. Who will want to add $400 month to their commute, just to live in Loudoun? We better hope and pray that they don't stick us with this awful metro project or we won't be able to get to work or move!
Ronald May 10, 2012 at 09:30 PM
I love the idea a a rail system I spend a $100 a week in gas on top of all the miles I put on my vehicle. Trains come with bus lines which means you won't have to pay to park. I grew up with a rail system it makes having a life so much easier just because I can afford to live in ashburn I would welcome the change of driving 2 1/2 hrs a day.
Janie Oldham May 11, 2012 at 03:43 AM
You won't pay much less to ride the bus and metro. First the bus will cost you a few dollars each way, and the metro will be $7 each way. It will be about $20 a day, $400 a month. The metro averages 20-25 mph and will stop 12 times between Ashburn and DC. That means at least 90 minutes each way, from door to door, if you are going all the way into DC. Your trip will be longer at least as expensive, if not more. Be careful what you wish for!

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