Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Letter: Dulles rail cost issue extends beyond over or under airport, Fairfax Times, June 24, 2011, Bob Chase, President, NVTA

Another entity was in the room at a June 1 meeting of federal, state, regional and local officials with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. It couldn’t speak for itself, but it’s very large and obvious.

Concerns surrounding the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project cost abound particularly with regards to the burden an underground Dulles station places on Dulles Toll Road users.

However, the “cost and who pays problem” extends beyond the airport station.

Consider the following:

The 2004 Dulles Corridor Rapid Transit Project Final Environmental Impact Statement and Section 4(f) Evaluation estimated the Phase 1 and 2 cost at $2.5 billion “by 2015 in year of expenditure,” and assumed the following distribution:
  • -Federal sources: 50 percent ($1.25 billion)
  • -Commonwealth of Virginia: 25 percent ($625 million)
  • -Fairfax County: 16.1 percent ($402.5 million)
  • -Loudoun County: 4.8 percent ($120 million)
  • -Airports Authority: 4.1 percent ($102.5 million)
Today, with an estimated $6.25 billion Phase 1 and 2 cost the distribution is as follows:
  • -Dulles Toll Road Users: 56.2 percent ($3.5125 billion)
  • -Fairfax County: 16.1 percent ($1.007 billion)
  • -Federal sources: 15.6 percent ($975 million)
  • -Loudoun County: 4.8 percent ($300 million)
  • -Airports Authority: 4.1 percent ($256.25 million)
  • -Commonwealth of Virginia: 3.2 percent ($200 million)
Construction of an aerial station at Dulles Airport reduces overall cost to $5.95 billion and the toll road users’ burden to 55.3 percent.

In short, the federal-state taxpayer share has been reduced from 75 percent to less than 20 percent and shifted to a relatively small group of Northern Virginia businesses, commercial property owners and residents most of whom are non-users of Dulles Rail.

An aerial Dulles Station reduces the overall cost, but doesn’t correct the funding inequities.
It’s time for federal, state and local officials that deemed Dulles Rail their top priority to address the “elephant” and create a more equitable, broadly-based funding strategy.

Bob Chase, President, Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance

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