Fancy "news papers" have started to get wind of the idea that Phase 2 of the Metro Silver Line, the E ticket ride from Wiehle Avenue to Dulles Airport and the particleboard nirvana beyond it, is now in serious trouble.
After more than 10 years of planning to add 23 miles of Metro rail line in Northern Virginia, the second part of the Silver Line project could be dead before a spade of dirt is turned.Actually, it's now mostly Loudoun County that is at a stalemate, but it won't take much to tip over this whole cinderblock Jenga game. Even if there's a wonderful kumbaya moment and the Loudoun board of supervisors agrees to approve the project by July 4, construction on Phase 2 will have already been delayed. If they don't, it could be all over except the finger-pointing.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, Virginia, and Loudoun and Fairfax counties are at a stalemate over pro-union labor deals, concerns about costs and an inspector general’s investigation of the authority.
“This project will die if the stakeholders cannot get together and resolve their differences,” said Leo J. Schefer, head of the Washington Airports Task Force, a group of business leaders that supports the Silver Line.That the future of this project hangs largely on objections crafted by national right-wing anti-union organizations speaks volumes about the state of politics in local government, as the Loudoun board is arguing/posturing that the labor agreement is a "deal breaker," as Loudoun Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles District)], put it. If we're going to have a controversy, can't it at least be about the names of the stations?
“Underlying all of this is party political extremes that are being put ahead of public purpose,” Schefer said. “It’s become an emotional issue.”
Former Governor and U.S. Senate Candidate Tim Kaine came to the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce last week to urge that the project go forward.
Just a few hundred yards from the Metro station where the $5.6 billion Dulles rail line would end if the project’s second phase falls through, U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine (D) told business leaders Friday that the Silver Line must reach the airport for the sake of the region, the state and the nation.Even Reston2020, which has been a longstanding critic of the funding and oversight of the project, is calling for a solution to the impasse that allows the project to go forward.
Kaine, the former governor who helped push the project through along with a bipartisan team of Virginia congressmen, took few partisan shots as he made his case.
Kaine credited the Bush administration, particularly the former transportation secretary, Mary Peters, for its role in awarding more than $900 million in federal aid for the project’s first phase. He even complimented his opponent in this year’s hotly contested Senate race, Republican George Allen, for his support of the project when he was in the Senate.
“That’s bipartisanship,” Kaine told a gathering of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. “As challenging as that was, we made it happen, and there’s no reason we can’t make sure Phase Two happens too.”
Reston 2020 neither wants toll road users to be stuck with three-quarters of the bill nor a Metrorail line that ends at Wiehle station in Reston. It has offered a number of alternative financing ideas for Phase 2 and encourages its prompt construction as soon as those alternatives are in place. We all need rail to Dulles and we need those who will benefit most to carry the load.Exactly. Keep clapping, kids!
Update: The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership, a coalition of business interests that are not exactly big fans of unions, is now calling on the airport authority to drop the labor agreement language. Which is great, because there are totally no other problems with the project that need to be hammered out for it to move forward.