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MWAA to Loudoun County: No Extension on Silver Line Deadline

Thursday, June 21, 2012 - 01:16 PM

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s CEO says the agency will not grant a request by three members of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to extend a deadline for a critical decision affecting Phase 2 of the Silver Line rail project to Dulles Airport.

In an interview with Transportation Nation, CEO Jack Potter said MWAA will not extend Loudoun County’s deadline to December to decide whether to opt out of the $2.7 billion rail link. The current deadline is July 4; the board of supervisors is expected to vote the day before.

On Monday the three board members issued a list of 21 “considerations” upon which their support may ride and requested a six-month deadline extension. If the nine-member board votes to opt out, the start of Phase 2 would be delayed at least 18 months.

“We are looking forward to a decision on July 3,” said Potter, who said Loudoun officials were already granted a 30-day extension that pushed the final decision into next month.

Although only four of nine county supervisors currently support Phase 2, Potter said he was optimistic Loudoun will opt in.

“They are starting to address some of the more challenging issues with Phase 2. One of the biggest issues they have is how to finance Phase 2. The fact that they are actively engaged in discussions about tax districts and finding other means of dealing with the funding, I find that encouraging.” Potter said.

The extension request had little chance of being realized.  There may not even be enough support on the Loudoun Board to make a formal request to MWAA even if the agency were willing to grant it.  The request for more time to weigh the Silver Line does illustrate, however, that just two weeks from the big vote there remain serious questions among enough board members to place the project in peril."

A proposal to create a special tax district around the planned Metro stops west of the airport was one of three ideas the Loudoun board agreed to consider to pay for the county’s $270 million Phase 2 commitment. The board has scheduled a work session on June 29 to decide on a financing framework before the final vote. The tax district would levy taxes on commercial properties that stand to benefit from the presence of a Metro stop nearby.

In response to Potter's remarks, Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) said he would support Metro rail-to-Loudoun if the board approves the proposal for the special tax district. Reid has been on the fence, saying he would not support the project unless the board demonstrates it can be paid for.  He was among the three Supervisors who signed the "opt in consideration."

“Looking at the numbers it looks to me that it will help pay for the cost of Dulles rail without burdening the rest of the county,” said Reid, who maintains that the Silver Line would not solve the county’s transportation problems.

“I still think that some of our conditions… are things the Airports Authority and WMATA should be discussing with us,” said Reid, who said he never intended to make the 21 considerations a list of ultimatums.

“I think that many of the issues there are beyond anyone’s control,” said Potter. “It’s great for someone to have a wish list for what they would like to have in a perfect world, but much of what they wrote down is unattainable.”

In an email, supervisor Geary Higgins, who also asked for an extension of the July 3 deadline, said Potter's remarks were "unfortunate." Currently only four supervisors on the nine-member board support the Silver Line. One more supporter is necessary for a majority to prevent the county from opting out of the project.

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Comments [8]

jinushaun

I don't see how anyone could be against the Silver line. Even if it just stopped at Dulles, that would benefit so many people in the region. I choose DCA over IAD simply because it's metro accessible--even if a flight out of DCA costs more. I moved here last year and one of the things that struck me was the lack of a metro line to IAD. What a big mistake. I can't believe this generation is going to make the same mistake again.

As for car ownership in Loudon county, that is meaningless, because driving in DC is a mess. I have a car and even I take the metro into DC to avoid driving and parking there.

Jun. 23 2012 10:06 AM
David

Oh, you Loudon-ers crack me up. In one breath decrying Metro as some kind of socialist program, while proceeding to hop in your car (powered by federally subsidized oil), driving on your socialist roads, over socialist bridges, past socialist parks, schools, police officers, libraries and fire stations, and to your federally funded jobs at government contracting agencies.

Honestly, you lot don't deserve Metro, and I'd just as soon not have you clogging up the system. If the MWAA could come up with a way to terminate the line at Dulles, then they should. Meanwhile, you all can continue to waste away in your traffic-snarled stench.

Jun. 22 2012 10:12 AM
throcko

The tax district funding model is a good one. Property owners who will benefit most from the new line will pay more for it and quickly realize an increase in property value. They are not paying more for less; they are paying more for more. This has been done elsewhere; little speculation is needed.

Clearly plenty of people would like to ride the Silver Line between the region's job centers (Dulles, Tysons, Arlington and DC). The potential obstacles are Loudoun County's low density and the line's location in a freeway median which makes high-density walkable development difficult.

Obviously, any transportation network makes it possible to travel for any purpose, legitimate or otherwise. Criminals wishing to avoid detection would likely utilize the "socialist" road network, a 6th-century technology.

Jun. 22 2012 10:08 AM
confused

greg

You ARE aware that automobiles were invented in the 19th century, aren't you?

As for tolls, they will be raised whether LC opts in or not. You have no control over that.

And yes, there are Loudoun people who use transit - ride now your county subsidizes bus service downtown, and to Tysons, and some of your people drive to metro rail stations. And if you think LC people do not bike, go take a look at the W&OD trail.

As for union labor, the PLA issue has already been resolved the way the antiunion people wanted, at Richmonds insistence.

Jun. 22 2012 10:05 AM
Hmm

Loudoun doesn’t need any transportation to link job centers in the region. Don't use taxes and tolls to pay for socialist highways! Let us hack our own path through the weeds. Can’t ride trains out here if they don't exist, but we are obsessed with automobiles and other 19th century technology.

Believe you me, NO ONE in Loudoun can ride this train to work if the line is not finished! We also don’t need people driving vehicles to our communities in Loudoun to commit crimes. STOP THE PROGRESS!!!

Jun. 22 2012 09:39 AM
Seriously Greg?

Greg, seriously? Socialist? Are publicly built roads not socialism? Are public schools not socialist? Are public libraries, universities, police departments not socialist?

Could you do everyone a favor, please? Stop repeating the catch-phrase of the year 'socialist' and base your research on fact, logic, and reason. It's people like you that give fiscal conservatives a bad reputation.

Jun. 22 2012 09:18 AM
Greg

Bob, I agree. Loudoun doesn't need this union-labor boondoggle train to nowhere. Don't raise our taxes and tolls to pay for this socialist monstrosity! We don't ride trains out here. Loudoun County residents own CARS (usually several), thank you very much. We aren't obsessed with bikes and trains and other 19th century technology the way that people in Fairfax and Arlington seem to be.

Believe you me, NO ONE in Loudoun is going to ride this train to work. Most of us don't work in DC, or go there at all, and we like it that way. We also don't need people taking this train to our communities in Loudoun to commit crimes. STOP THE TRAIN!!!

Jun. 22 2012 08:43 AM
Bob Bruhns

Loudoun County is nowhere near being ready to make such a decision, and their BOS should opt out. If opting out delays Dulles Rail Phase II by 18 months, that would be a good thing.

On January 1, 2013, the tolls make their first real jump, cars will flood the side roads, and people will begin to see what they are up against with this overpriced rail boondoggle. Fairfax and Loudoun County Supervisors will have to begin wrangling with Billion dollar bonds to pay down the tolls, because the federal government sure isn't going to help. And taxpayers will begin to undetsrand that their taxes will go up, while their services go down, thanks to this overpriced rail project. Who knows, they might even ask about the price itself.

There will be time for actual consideration, not just a circus where the Supervisors run around wringing their hands and saying "Oh, where are we going to get the money for this?" We saw that in Fairfax County in April 2012, and they still don't know - but of course, that didn't stop them from voting yes. Hopefully, Loudoun County will vote no.

Jun. 21 2012 04:35 PM

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