By Liz Essley
The Dulles rail project is poised to lose millions in funding from Virginia as punishment for encouraging the use of union labor on the $6 billion project.
The Republican-dominated General Assembly passed a bill Thursday prohibiting the state from giving money to any project that discriminates against contractors who don't want to use union labor. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling used his tie-breaking vote to pass the bill in the Senate.
Gov. Bob McDonnell already promised $150 million to the Dulles rail project, but that funding would be in jeopardy under the bill.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is overseeing construction, had planned to require contractors bidding on the second phase of the rail line to use union labor. The authority backed away from that position after Virginia officials threatened to cut off funding because it violated the state's right-to-work law.
The authority now plans to give a bidding advantage to any contractor that voluntarily agrees to use union labor on the second phase, although Del. Barbara Comstock, R-McLean, said that plan, too, violates state law and is reason enough to cut off funding.Cutting to the chase, if the bill is signed into law--as it appears likely to be--toll road users would be stuck with paying three-quarters of the $150 million ($112.5MM) for Phase 2 Silver Line construction that the state of Virginia would not contribute. That would add to the roughly $2.1 billion dollars in construction cost debt they are already likely to pay for.