Autumn on Lake Thoreau

Autumn on Lake Thoreau

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Walk this Way:The Economic Promise of Walkable Places in Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Brookings Institution, May 25, 2012

Following is the press release regarding the subject Brookings Institution study.  It makes several references to Reston Town Center as an example of a walkable neighborhood.  As these conclusions indicate, there is much to consider in making Reston's TOD areas great walking places. 

An economic analysis of a sample of neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area using walkability measures finds that:
  • More walkable places perform better economically. For neighborhoods within metropolitan Washington, as the number of environmental features that facilitate walkability and attract pedestrians increase, so do office, residential, and retail rents, retail revenues, and for-sale residential values.
  • Walkable places benefit from being near other walkable places. On average, walkable neighborhoods in metropolitan Washington that cluster and form walkable districts exhibit higher rents and home values than stand-alone walkable places.
  • Residents of more walkable places have lower transportation costs and higher transit access, but also higher housing costs. Residents of more walkable neighborhoods in metropolitan Washington generally spend around 12 percent of their income on transportation and 30 percent on housing. In comparison, residents of places with fewer environmental features that encourage walkability spend around 15 percent on transportation and 18 percent on housing.
  • Residents of places with poor walkability are generally less affluent and have lower educational attainment than places with good walkability. Places with more walkability features have also become more gentrified over the past decade. However, there is no significant difference in terms of transit access to jobs between poor and good walkable places.
The findings of this study offer useful insights for a diverse set of interests. Lenders, for example, should find cause to integrate walkability into their underwriting standards. Developers and investors should consider walkability when assessing prospects for the region and acquiring property. Local and regional planning agencies should incorporate assessments of walkability into their strategic economic development plans and eliminate barriers to walkable development. Finally, private foundations and government agencies that provide funding to further sustainability practices should consider walkability (especially as it relates to social equity) when allocating funds and incorporate such measures into their accountability standards.

The Great Recession highlighted the need to change the prevailing real estate development paradigm, particularly in housing. High-risk financial products and practices, “teaser” underwriting terms, steadily low-interest rates, and speculation in housing were some of the most significant contributors to the housing bubble and burst that catalyzed the recession. But an oversupply of residential housing also fueled the economic crisis.

However, a closer look at the post-recession housing numbers paints a more nuanced picture. While U.S. home values dropped steadily between 2008 and 2011, distant suburbs experienced the starkest price decreases while more close-in neighborhoods either held steady or in some cases saw price increases. This distinction in housing proximity is particularly important since it appears that the United States may be at the beginning of a structural real estate market shift. Emerging evidence points to a preference for mixed-use, compact, amenity-rich, transit-accessible neighborhoods or walkable places.

Click here for the full Brookings Institution report.

Opinion: In economic forecasting, caveat emptor, Barbara Hollingsworth, Washington Examiner, May 22, 2012

This opinion piece looks at the questionable record of GMU's Center for Regional Analysis in looking at the region's economic future.  In the middle of the article, it says,

Yet in a May 9 paper titled "The Impact of Metrorail on Loudoun County's Economic Future," Fuller confidently predicts Loudoun County will miss out on $72.2 billion in economic development between 2020 and 2030 if supervisors don't approve Phase 2 of the Silver Line by July 4.
Not everyone shares Fuller's rosy outlook on the project. One former Federal Transit Administration economist believes the Metrorail extension will "do little for economic development, either at the airport or in the county, since relatively few people will ride it."
And in a white paper for the Reston Citizens Association, which favors the Metrorail extension, retired federal economist Terry Maynard warned that "skyrocketing tolls [on the Dulles Toll Road] will limit or possibly even reverse the projected economic growth along the Dulles Corridor stimulated by the Silver Line."
Maynard maintains Fuller's study is based on wild economic assumptions compared with those found in his own group's 2011 workforce housing study. "All the benefits [in both build and no-build scenarios] are exaggerated upwards by about two-thirds," he says.
In a phone interview with The Washington Examiner, Fuller said he "can't be blamed for the forecast" because "I didn't do the forecast." Fuller says he relied in his study on work done by Global Insight, a private forecasting firm, for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. But like all crystal ball readers, Global Insight does not have a perfect track record. "They didn't call the recession right," Fuller admitted. . . .
Click here for the rest of this Examiner opinion piece.

Too many times GMU CRA has leaned to the wishes of its key financial source, the region's development community--especially "The 2030 Group", in making its forecasts, only to be caught short later when it tries to do some serious economic analysis--such as its workforce study last October.  While pushing the blame off on its contractor, IHS Global Insight, GMU CRA is the entity that publishes the results and apparently doesn't vet those results, accepting the accolades when their right and blaming Global Insight when they're wrong.

Not much integrity there.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Alexandria To Exceed Debt Limits, WAMU 88.5, May 22, 2012

Further borrowing could compromise credit rating

The stellar credit rating earned by the city of Alexandria, Va. appears to have reached its limit. Credit agencies say that planned investments have virtually taken the city to its limit, and any additional borrowing in the short-term could compromise its credit.
From 2015 to 2020, Alexandria will exceed its own debt limits as part of a plan to finance the new Potomac Yard Metro station. City leaders say the financing plan for Potomac Yard has already been vetted by the credit rating agencies, which consider investments in transit worth moving into the red. The downside is that the city won't be able to take on any new borrowing. . . .
OK, this isn't the end of life as we know it, but one has to ask whether it is a precursor to debt issuance issues in Fairfax County to deal with Metrorail- and BRAC-related development.  

The article goes on to note that facing these limits actually forces Alexandria--or Fairfax County--to make tough choices about which infrastructure efforts are truly important.  The others, it points out, may need to be financed by developers on their own--which is not a bad idea since, in the end, they will be the one making the profits. 

Is there a lesson we can learn here without the pain?

Click here for the rest of this article.  Or, you can also listen to this news piece by clicking here

Monday, May 21, 2012

MWAA: Loudoun’s Opt-Out Option Doesn’t Stop Toll Hikes, Leesburg Today, May 17, 2012

 The (Loudoun County) Board of Supervisors last night had its first opportunity to sit down with representatives of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority since beginning its detailed review of plans to extend Metro to Dulles Airport and into Loudoun.
MWAA CEO Jack Potter and others expressed their desire to see the Silver Line go beyond Dulles to its planned end at Rt. 772 in Ashburn, to see Loudoun continue as a funding partner on the project. They also emphasized their commitment to working with the county on any potential development around the Rt. 606 station.
Supervisors said they were still not comfortable with the funding plan MWAA has for the project. They said other funding sources should be explored and worried about how high rates could go on the Dulles Toll Road in the decades to come.
Unless another funding source is discovered, or the federal or state government pitches in hundreds of millions dollars more for Phase 2, tolls on the Dulles Toll Road could go as high as $12 one way by 2030, according to information presented last night. In today’s dollars the 2030 tolls would be $6.75. . . .
Click here for the rest of this article. 


Video: "Reston: Is It the End of the Silver Line," Reston Impact, Host John Lovaas with Terry Maynard

In this one-hour interview, Reston Impact host John Lovaas and RCA Board member Terry Maynard discuss the status, prospects, and issues in the the completion of the Metrorail Silver Line.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Agenda: Reston Task Force Meeting, May 22, 2012

                                        RESTON MASTER PLAN SPECIAL STUDY
                                                              TASK FORCE
                                                             May 22, 2012


Task Force Meeting
Langston Hughes Middle School Cafeteria - 11401 Ridge Heights Road, Reston


DRAFT AGENDA

7:00 p.m. Public Comment Period

7:10 p.m. Administrative Items – Patty Nicoson, Task Force Chair

7:20 p.m. Staff Updates
       Heidi Merkel, Department of Planning and Zoning
  • GMU Center for Regional Analysis updated forecasts
  • Reston Town Center North planning
  • Information re: drafting Plan Text
  • Relationship of Phase 1 & Phase 2 Plan amendments
  • Phase 1 Plan text organization
  • Phase 2 Plan text organization
  • Iterative Process of draft Plan text review
8:55 p.m. Next Task Force Meeting – Department of Transportation Presentation
  • Tuesday, June 12, 2012
  • Location to be announced
9:00 p.m.  Adjourn--Patty Nicoson

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Focus on the Real Silver Line Story, Colin Mills, President, RCA, Reston Patch, May 16, 2012

You may have noticed that the discussion over Phase 2 of the Silver Line has been heating up in recent weeks.  The most recent headlines have centered around the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) and their preference for a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on Phase 2 of the Silver Line.

The PLA issue has been in the news for a while.  Originally, Virginia Republicans balked at MWAA's plan to require a PLA on all bids for Phase 2.  If you don't know what a PLA is, it's a bit complex to explain; but essentially, it's an agreement between the major contractors and several labor organizations for a project.  It typically sets the wages for workers on the project and mandates that workers go through union hiring halls, although the workers are not required to join a union.  In return, the labor organizations agree to a no-strike clause on the project. (Phase 1 of the Silver Line is being constructed under a PLA that the project team applied voluntarily.)

In response to Virginia's complaints, MWAA agreed to remove the PLA requirement, and instead plans to award a preference to bidding teams that include a PLA.  But some elected officials have continued to protest this, and are threatening to withhold Virginia's $150 million contribution to Phase 2 unless MWAA drops the PLA preference.  Also, the PLA issue may lead Loudoun County to drop out of the project.  Most recently, the Dulles Corridor Rail Association called on MWAA to abandon its preference for a PLA.

Meanwhile, MWAA itself is coming under fire.  This week, the US Department of Transportation released preliminary findings from its audit of MWAA.  The headlines have focused on DOT's questioning of MWAA's accountability and ethics policies, as well as some questionable expenses incurred by MWAA board members.

Less commented upon, although perhaps more relevant to Restonians, was the DOT audit's findings regarding the most recent Toll Road revenue forecast issued by CDM Smith.  The audit has found that CDM Smith's assumptions and forecasts appear generally reasonable, which agrees with the assessment RCA's Reston 20/20 Committee reached in March.  (The 20/20 Committee did some further analysis, and warned that there is likely to be approximately a 10% revenue shortfall for Phase 2 based on CDM Smith's numbers.)
But in all the back and forth about PLAs and unions and MWAA's expenses and in all the political posturing, one thing seems to be getting ignored: the fact that the majority of Phase 2's costs are still projected to fall on the Toll Road users.

Ultimately, the debate over the PLA is not that important.  It matters to construction unions and anti-union activists, but whether or not a PLA is imposed, it will not spell the success or failure of the project.  While RCA hopes that Loudoun County will remain committed to the project and that Virginia will contribute the $150 million it has promised, we have not taken a position on the PLA issue.

Similarly, while the DOT's audit of MWAA will hopefully prompt the authority to clean up some of its hazier practices, unclear ethics policies and reimbursed trips are not going to break Phase 2.  RCA also has taken no position on the DOT audit, apart from the section relating to CDM Smith's report.

Where we have taken a position, and where we are focusing our energy, is on the huge projected rise in tolls on the Toll Road, and what that means for the Silver Line project as a whole and for the traffic situation in and around Reston.  The PLAs may mean a lot to some elected officials, but the tolls are what matter most to Reston citizens.

Reston 20/20 recently released a white paper demonstrating how the projected rise in tolls would affect Reston and the Silver Line.  They ran the numbers, and found that if the tolls rise as CDM Smith forecasts, regular users of the Toll Road will see nearly half of their anticipated real income gains over the next 40 years wiped out by the tolls.  Almost half!  The toll cost for regular commuters will ultimately amount to over $8,000 a year, which is a pretty hefty chunk of change.

Facing those kind of expenses, more and more drivers will find ways to avoid the Toll Road.  Based on official forecasts, if tolls double next year as planned, 30,000 cars a day will desert the Toll Road, instead taking to the already-congested surface streets.  By the middle of the century, when tolls reach their peak, 80,000 to 120,000 drivers will avoid the Toll Road.  Some of them will take the Silver Line instead, but a lot of them can't or won't.  Instead, they'll be bumper-to-bumper on Route 7, the Fairfax County Parkway, Reston Parkway, and other Reston streets.

Faced with the choice of endless gridlock or an $8,000 annual toll surcharge, many workers may try to stay away from the corridor altogether.  This could lead employers to locate their offices elsewhere.  And that would have a major impact on the economic growth that the Silver Line is projected to bring.

How can we avoid this fate?  Reston 20/20 has an answer: Increase the cost sharing among the parties that stand to benefit from the Silver Line.  Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, MWAA, the station-area landowners, and the users of the Toll Road will all benefit from the construction of the Silver Line, whether via increased tax revenues, higher property values, easier access for airline passengers, or reduced Toll Road traffic.  Since all these parties benefits, all of them should be willing to invest in the line's success.

Reston 20/20 proposes that equal funding shares be assigned to MWAA and the counties, the station area landowners, and the Toll Road users.  This would reduce the total share of Silver Line costs borne by Toll Road drivers from 54.5% to 26.5%, which would dramatically reduce the tolls and reduce the traffic on the streets of Reston.  That's a win-win.

The bad news, for now, is that this issue is being ignored in favor of dueling talking points about unions and MWAA junkets.  But the good news is that RCA and Reston 20/20 will keep pressing this issue, and making sure that all parties involved address it.

We're not about to stop fighting for the citizens of Reston.  And we're not going to rest until there's a funding plan for the Silver Line that's fair to everyone and ensures that this investment in our future succeeds.  The Silver Line is going to change the face of Reston and the Dulles Corridor, so let's get it done and get it done right.

Column: Blame Game with the Silver Line, John Lovaas, Connection Newspapers, May 16, 2012

After waiting 50 years for the rail link down the median reserved for it from Dulles Airport to Falls Church, construction finally began. Many actually believed it would be a reality shortly. Now, it is less certain. The same parties who delayed the project for many years are at it again, engaged in finger pointing, blocking Phase 2. In fact, the only thing being competently done is the Phase 1 construction, which is on schedule and on budget—thanks to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA). . . .
Now, the main focus of inaction is on Phase 2, the part from Wiehle Avenue almost to the Airport. Now, we have a fight going on among Fairfax County, Loudoun County, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Feds to avoid paying reasonably proportional (to benefits) shares of the cost. As my friend Terry Maynard of the Reston Citizens Association recently pointed out in an excellent white paper and open letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood, the cost of Phase 2 is being dropped squarely on Restonians and other toll road users—a 75 percent of the $2.8 billion estimated Phase 2 price. Toll road users will see the current $2.25 one-way toll double in the next year, "triple by 2018 and continue spiraling upward to $18.75 in 2048." Terry argues this is grossly unfair. It may be. But, this kind of pricing could serve as a strong incentive to get folks out of their cars and onto to the train, a more effective congestion reducer. . . .

 Click here for the rest of this John Lovaas commentary.

Review of CDM Smith's Traffic & Revenue Forecast by DOT OIG and RCA Reston 2020



 “Our preliminary assessment of Dulles Toll Road revenue estimates suggests that the assumptions MWAA used to arrive at the estimates are generally reasonable. MWAA plans to finance almost two-thirds of Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project with revenue from the toll road, which it operates following a 2008 transfer agreement from the Virginia State DOT. Because MWAA’s Phase 2 funding depends heavily on the revenue the toll road can produce and sustain, sound revenue forecasts are critical to the success of MWAA’s funding plans. Our review focused on the inputs and assumptions used in forecasting toll receipts in a March 2012 report commissioned by MWAA.

“MWAA’s population and employment forecasts and gasoline price assumptions appear reasonable. While MWAA’s method for estimating values of time (VOT) does not follow typical practice, the resulting assumptions appear reasonable. We also identified factors that help explain an increase between two Dulles Toll Road studies in the toll projected to maximize revenue.”

US DOT Office of Inspector General Preliminary
            MWAA Audit, May 15, 2012, pp. 12-13.

The above opens the section of the US Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General preliminary MWAA audit report on the most recent forecast for tolls, traffic, and revenues for the Dulles Toll Road.  While the media has so far has focused on the first half of this report that focuses on MWAA’s faulty management practices, this second part of the report is far more important in understanding the implications of the current funding arrangements for the Silver Line’s construction on future toll road use and the economic growth of the Dulles Corridor.  For the record, however, the traffic and revenue forecast was prepared by CDM Smith (CDMS)—formerly Wilbur Smith & Associates (WSA)—for MWAA, not by MWAA itself. 

Most importantly, RCA’s Reston 2020 Committee generally agrees with the DOT OIG audit, although we have taken our analysis further to look at the risks.  In fact, we came to this conclusion in early March 2012 in a committee meeting where we reviewed our analysis of the most recent (CDMS) forecast. 

We prepared a draft presentation concerning the report, but decided not to publish it until now because (a) CDMS was supposed to complete its report within weeks, and (b) we anticipated that DOT OIG would be examining it as well.  We simply decided to wait. 
  • The DOT OIG preliminary report was published yesterday with its summary discussion of the latest version of the CDMS Report.
  • We are still waiting for release to the public of the latest version of the CDM Smith forecast—a March 2012 version entitled “The Comprehensive Traffic and Revenue Study 2012 Update Working Draft,” according to the DOT OIG audit.  That March 2012 version has not been made public to our knowledge, a part of MWAA’s continuing problem with transparency. 
Our judgments were based on the January “Executive Brief and Preliminary Results, CDM Smith, January 2012.” That draft presentation—with minor editorial correction, but no analytic changes—is presented below in its “draft” format.  Based on the DOT OIG commentary, we do not expect to see significant changes in the March (or later) versions of the CDMS traffic and revenue report. 

Without detailing our analysis in this brief post, we present below the conclusions and the chart that highlights those conclusions.
  • We expect population and employment growth will be slower and gasoline price escalation higher over the next 40 years than CDMS & RPG forecast.
  • Our results suggest the likelihood of revenue shortfalls in every year and growing to 25% by the end of the 40-year forecast period.
  • The odds are two-to-one that the annual forecast revenues are not achieved (67%) at the end of the forecast period.
  • Projected annual revenue shortfalls grow to more than $130MM late in the forecast period.
  • The cumulative revenue shortfall is likely to be about $1.7 billion over 40 years—about one-tenth of total forecast revenues.
  • All of this assumes project and financing costs do not increase after the preparation of the CDMS T&R forecast.
These conclusions are generally depicted in the following chart from the draft presentation:

In our view, this forecast is “generally reasonable” in that it captures nearly 90% of the expected revenues over a four-decade period.  That said, the likelihood that tolls will need to be higher by 10% or so against knowable forecast variables and there are no doubt other costs that cannot yet be foreseen means that tolls are likely to be significantly higher than CDMS’ forecasts in the long term.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wolf Statement On Release of Inspector General's Interim Report On MWAA, May 15, 2012

WOLF STATEMENT ON RELEASE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL’S
INTERIM REPORT ON MWAA


Washington, D.C. (May 15, 2012) - Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) today released the following letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood following the release of an interim report done by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation on practices of the board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA):

The Honorable Ray LaHood
Secretary
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
Washington, D.C. 20590

Dear Secretary LaHood:

I am deeply troubled by the findings released today in the interim report from the department's Inspector General (IG) on the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (WMAA) Board of Directors. I requested this audit last year and am sure you agree that the report raises significant concerns about the current board's policies and procedures, including contracting practices, ethics and transparency. This demands immediate action.

Most egregious are the IG’s findings about MWAA's contracting practices. The report notes that in many cases MWAA failed to even abide by its own established contracting procedures, which already fall short of industry standards. Particularly concerning are the number of sole source contracts issued. As you know, MWAA is required by law to fully compete any contract over $200,000, with limited exceptions. Yet the IG's report states that "[d]uring the period of our review, MWAA awarded five sole source contracts that were over $200,000, but did not fall under any of MWAA's categorical exemptions. These contract awards, which amount to $6 million, did not have Board approval." Not only did MWAA abuse the exemptions permitted under federal law, they issued numerous contracts that failed to meet even these basic standards.

The report points out that while MWAA's Contracting Manual says some exemptions are allowed, but "comprise only a small portion of MWAA's contracts and their dollar value," the IG found that the use of exemptions "has amounted to 40 percent of the Authority's $589 million in contract awards during the period of our review."

The IG's report also shows that conflicts of interest between members of the board and contractors were ignored. The report details how "... one Board member's recommendation led MWAA to initiate a $100,000 contract with a law firm despite the fact that an immediate family member worked for the firm." The report goes on to say that "while this family relationship had been previously disclosed, the Board member did not refrain from participating in matters related to the firm when the issue arose (per MWAA policy), and MWAA awarded the contract to the recommended firm. At minimum this created the appearance of a conflict of interest that may have been avoided had the Board member exercised better judgment and fully followed MWAA's ethical procedures."

This particular contract was initiated to procure a legal opinion by the law firm Jenner & Block for the express purpose of advising the board on how it could avoid complying with a bipartisan law passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. Amazingly, the report shows that the contract was requested on November 18, 2011, the same day the president signed the bill into law. It also is worth noting that the report reveals that the law firm submitted its "completed legal opinion to MWAA before the noncompetitive contact [was] documented and officially signed." Enclosed is a letter I sent today to Jenner & Block's managing partner asking the firm to return the money it received for the opinion.

The report also details the lack of proper standards for the recusal of board members. The report states that MWAA's ethics practices "are vague regarding when and how Board members should recuse themselves when a conflict of interest arises." The report cites an instance where two board members recused themselves from a particular issue. One member left the meeting while the other stayed. While the report said the board member who stayed did not participate in the decision or vote, "he had been instrumental in drafting the materials that were up for a vote, and had a clear interest in the outcome of the vote because of his relationship with the organizations that would potentially benefit from the proposal passing." This simply cannot stand.

The interim report also addresses MWAA's lack of transparency, specifically noting the board's excessive use of closed executive sessions. MWAA routinely uses these closed sessions to discuss important business that the public has a right to know. The report cites two examples that are particularly egregious. In one instance, the report notes that, "MWAA's recent revisions to its bylaws were conducted in a closed executive session - even though the revisions included enhancements to transparency." Later, the report states "...MWAA's Board holds its audit committee meetings exclusively in close executive sessions." Discussing transparency and the results of audits in closed session is counter intuitive and shows remarkable hubris.

The report further details how MWAA's board members abuse the public trust, charging expensive flights and meals to the authority. The report cites one voucher reviewed which "contained meal expenses for some Board members and their guests for a trip to Hawaii for a conference. The cost for three dinners totaled approximately $4,800." What is even more troubling is the fact that, "[W]hile MWAA's travel policy states that Directors should make every effort to secure the most cost effective means of travel, there are no specified guidelines to limit travel costs for these kinds of trips." If the board does not issue adequate guidelines, extravagant expenses like this will continue to occur.

I am also troubled by what the IG says is one set of standards for authority staff and another - seemingly lower - for the board. Equally troubling is that the IG has "identified some concerns related to nepotism at MWAA; our work is ongoing in this area." I am pleased the IG is continuing to look into this.

One issue that is not addressed in the report - but has been confirmed by the IG - is deeply troubling: the financial settlement with Nathaniel Ford, the former San Francisco, California transit official who was originally considered for the CEO position. Why is MWAA paying an individual who never worked a single day for the authority? I am told MWAA refuses to tell the IG's team the details of the settlement, claiming a confidentiality agreement. This is not something that should be hidden from the IG or the public.

I know how important these airports are to the success of the region. Dulles, in particular, is the economic engine of northern Virginia. Sadly, the current board has not capitalized on past successes and instead is now completely dysfunctional. Contributing to this dysfunction is the that some public officials charged with appointing MWAA board members fail to do so in a timely fashion, permitting board members to continue to serve years after their terms expire. These concerns led me to introduce legislative changes to the board, since signed into law, including the provision stating that a board member may not serve past the end of their term. Disturbingly, these are the very changes that MWAA paid $100,000 to avoid.

Based on our conversation this morning, I support your desire to place a top member of your staff immediately at MWAA to report directly to you in an effort to address the concerns detailed in the IG report. As you know, I introduced legislation last month to create a permanent IG for MWAA that would have complete access to all board actions, including executive sessions. Your staff member must be able to attend executive sessions.

Mr. Secretary, I applaud the steps we discussed and share your belief that immediately establishing an IG at MWAA will help ensure that the abuses detailed in the interim report never happen again. If the IG determines that it is necessary to "clean house" in order to implement the recommendations of the audit team, so be it. The responsibilities of the MWAA board are so important to the region that no necessary effort needed to restore public trust should be omitted.

I know how much you care about the two airports run by the authority and understand how important they are to the Washington Metropolitan area and the nation. I also appreciate the countless hours you and your staff have invested in the successful completion of Dulles rail. Your personal involvement has been critical to the project.

I also want to tell you how much I appreciate the outstanding work of Inspector General Calvin Scovel and his team. I am well aware of the time, energy and effort that have gone into the interim report and know there is a great deal more work to do. I look forward to the IG's final report later this year.

Best wishes,


Sincerely,
Frank Wolf
Member of Congress

Agenda: RCA Board Meeting, Reston Sheraton, May 21, 2012


DRAFT Agenda
RCA Board of Directors Meeting
Reston Sheraton
May 21, 2012

Item
Time
Topic
Disposition
Presenters
1
7:30 PM
Adopt  Agenda
Action
Colin Mills, RCA Board
2
7:35 PM
Approve April 2012 Minutes
Action
Debra Eastham
3
7:40 PM
Treasurer’s Report
Action
Diane Lewis
4
7:45 PM
Proposed Bylaw Revisions
Discussion, Action
George Kain
5
8:00 PM
New Issue Committees
Discussion, Possible Action
George Kain
6
8:10 PM
RA Update
Discussion
Dick Rogers
7
8:15 PM
Reston 20/20 Update: New White Paper, etc.
Discussion
Terry Maynard
8
8:35 PM
Election Committee Update; Call for Candidates
Discussion
Gary Walker
9
8:50 PM
Outreach Committee Update
Discussion
Hank Blakely
10
8:55 PM
RCA Newsletter
Discussion
Colin Mills
11
9:05 PM
Potential Media Sources
Discussion
Hank Blakely, Colin Mills
12
9:10 PM
Other Business
Discussion
RCA Board
13
9:15 PM
Location and Time of Next Meeting; Adjourn
Action
RCA Board

Interim Response Letter to Congressmen Wolf and Latham Regarding MWAA, US DOT Office of Inspector General, May 15, 2012

DOT OIG MWAA Interim Letter, May 15, 2012

Follow-up E-mail to FC DOT on Its Pending Transportation Analysis, Terry Maynard, May 15, 2012

From: Terry Maynard
To: Leonard Wolfenstein
Cc: Tom Biesiadny ; Heidi Merkel ; Patti Nicoson
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 2:25 PM
Subject: Reston Future Transportation Analysis Study


Leonard--

I wanted to follow-up on the FC DOT presentation made to the Reston Task Force (RTF) on April 24 first by thanking you and the briefers for the thoughtful presentation on how your are approaching the transportation analysis you are conducting for the RTF.  Please pass on my thanks to Mike Garcia and Eric Teitelman.

I would like to highlight a couple of concerns that were raised during the presentation, just as a reminder. 
  • First, while labeled a "transportation" study, the focus in the presentation was purely on traffic analysis and changing roadways to accommodate growth.  There was no discussion of how to better accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists and their access to the station areas.  Indeed, some of the proposed changes would have made it more difficult for them.  I hope you can address the full range of proposed improvements, including bus transit to the station areas.
  • Second, the notion of a roadway running diagonally across the Sunrise Valley Wetlands Nature Park is anathema to residents.  Despite the claim that the roadway would not do that, as diagrammed, it cuts across the northeast quadrant of the wetlands--ending at the beginning of the footbridge across the wetlands.
I would also ask for one more piece of analysis for your June 8 presentation:  An order-of-magnitude cost estimate for the various improvements from grid of streets to overpasses to bus transit, etc.  We absolutely need to understand the costs that may be associated with the transportation improvements needed to make TOD development and Metrorail work for Reston before we commit to any course of plan action, since some plans could be too costly.  I appreciate that this is relatively short notice, but I hope you can adapt some of the techniques used in the Tysons effort to take at least a first cut at the transportation costs associated with the arrival of Metrorail.

One final note:  I would like to bring to your attention the transportation needs analysis pulled together by Reston 2020's Transportation Working Group some two years ago.  It, in fact, covers all modes of transportation needed Reston-wide, but it focuses on the TOD area development issues.  I think you will find it covers most of the same topics you are currently looking at, but it has a different twist on some and makes a point of highlighting.  Here is the link to the report: Reston Transportation:Meeting the Needs of a 21st Century Planned Community.

Thank you all for your continuing excellent work.  I look forward to the hearing the results on June 12th

Regards,
Terry Maynard
Reston Citizens Association Representative
Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force

Posted on the RCA Reston 2020 blog

Federal report faults airports authority for weaknesses in controls, oversight, Washington Post, May 15, 2012

By , Updated: Tuesday, May 15, 11:40 AM


The eight-page draft report, by the U.S. Transportation Department’s inspector general, is expected to be released Tuesday afternoon. A copy of the draft was obtained by The Washington Post.

The airports authority, which has 1,400 employees and a nearly $2 billion annual budget, oversees Reagan National and Dulles International airports as well as construction of Metro’s new Silver Line. Nearly 30 local politicians and officials from MWAA and Virginia’s transportation department are expected to be briefed this afternoon by the inspector general. . . .
Click here for the rest of this WaPo article.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

McDonnell budget amendment could hurt Metro Silver Line funding, Washington Post, May 10, 2012

RICHMOND — Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has amended the state budget, possibly withholding money for the authority that operates Reagan National and Dulles International airports until Virginia’s two new members are seated on its board.

State lawmakers said Thursday that the change could hold up the state’s $150 million contribution to Metro’s multibillion-dollar planned extension to Dulles, but officials with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority say McDonnell’s administration has assured them it does not. . . .
If you want to read more about this angle on the politicizing of the Silver Line, click here.  

So far, the only issue NOT dealt with in the posturing, politicking, partisan blather about Phase 2 has been the absurd notion that over half the line's $6 billion cost can be paid through astronomical tolls to cover all the toll road's cost plus 55% of the Metrorail line's construction cost--some $17 billion with MWAA near-junk financing over more than four decades--by 100,000 to 150,000 Dulles Toll Road users. 

When will the adults show up? Where are they now?