News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Metro Silver Line: One More Nuisance Lawsuit Down, 834 To Go

Man oh man, if there's one thing we love, it's a good nuisance lawsuit. And Metro's awesome Silver Line, which must be something like the Silver Streak, only without that delightful Gene Wilder but more overcrowded and prone to derail and/or catch on fire, has attracted more of them than a school redistricting hearing where the conversation was dominated by Bratz dolls.

But perhaps the strangest one, which has been around since roughly 1609, when the Metro's original "yellowth" line was built out of moccasin strings, has finally been given the smackdown by a judge.

A state judge in Richmond dismissed a lawsuit yesterday that had challenged the transfer of the Dulles Toll Road to the authority that runs Reagan National and Dulles International airports, clearing the way to use toll revenue for an extension of Metrorail to Dulles.

Virginia Transportation Secretary Pierce R. Homer said the transfer of control from the state to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority could occur by the end of the year, along with an expected announcement of a funding agreement from the Federal Transit Administration.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two toll road users who said Kaine violated the state constitution when he announced plans, without General Assembly action, to transfer the state-owned Dulles Toll Road to the airports authority, which intends to raise tolls and put the proceeds toward the cost of the rail line.

If the court had voided the transfer, it would have put the Metrorail extension in jeopardy. The transit administration is deciding whether to fund $900 million of the $5.2 billion project, and a legal ruling against using toll revenue could have cast doubt on the federal portion.
At this point, a stray semicolon in a subcontractor's invoice for those flashing orange cones festooning Tysons Corner could cast doubt on the federal portion of the funding. But assuming it doesn't get shot down by the Straight Talk Express or the collapse of the global economy and maybe even the overall concept of currency as a store of value, that Silver Line will be here before we know it, kids! Go ahead and sell your gas-guzzling SUV now, and just keep clapping!

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