May 10, 2011
Today I introduced legislation to allow members of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to be replaced more easily and to give the Commonwealth of Virginia greater representation on the panel, now a 13-member regional board. The measure also would require that board members leave when their terms expire instead of the present practice of serving until a replacement is appointed.
I have been growing increasingly concerned by recent actions of the MWAA board and believe changes to the 1986 law creating the authority should be made immediately.
I have been extremely critical of the board's recent decision to build an underground station at Dulles airport as part of Phase 2 of the Dulles Metrorail expansion project. The three local partners - the Commonwealth of Virginia, Fairfax County and Loudoun County - in the project also have been very vocal in opposition to plans for an underground station.
My bill would allow the governors of Virginia and Maryland, the mayor of the District of Columbia and the president to remove board members even if appointed by their predecessor. The bill would also expand the board and increase Virginia's representation from five to nine members. Maryland would continue to have two members and the District of Columbia three. There are also three presidential appointees.
I have long been a champion for Dulles and Reagan National airports, but I believe that continued success of the airports is threatened by a board of directors that has lost sight of its primary mission of serving airport passengers and residents of the surrounding communities. I am also concerned about rising costs for Phase 2 of the rail project and what that will mean for tolls on the Dulles Toll Road, a major source of funding for the second half of the project.
With both airports located in Virginia and with northern Virginia residents and local governments providing a lion's share of the revenue for the Dulles rail project, it is only fair that the majority of the board be Virginians.