I know it’s not nice to call people dummies, but the Dulles Rail promotion team (MWAA) must be thinking that is what they are dealing with. The good news is, we in Loudoun County still have time to prove these folks wrong.
This Dulles Rail 101 overview is simple because you don’t need to know all the details of a scam to know you are the about to become the victim.
The train from Washington to Reston is now under construction. It’s in the news because it is behind schedule and way over budget. Rail promoters, the visionaries behind this idea, would also like to have a train come out to the airport and then keep going right on into Loudoun County. Sounds cool, right? At least until you get to the “Who pays for it” part.
To make big trains a reality, you need big money. Federal and State governments usually have lots more of our money to give back to us than they have right now. Absent that as a funding source, these Rail visionaries have put their imaginations to work, and guess who they are asking to finance this vision/dream.
Well, of course, the people who use the rail and the developers and businesses who benefit will pay, right? Wrong.
The idea on the table now is a real piece of work. It says, let’s make the hard working commuters who use the Dulles Toll Road pay lots more in tolls. I guess this is because these people still have jobs and that means they have extra money to subsidize the people who prefer riding trains. Okie dokie?
These Dulles Rail promoters apparently also heard that Loudoun and Fairfax Counties have lots of money, so they extended the invitation to them to ante up a few hundred million for construction. And just to sweeten the deal they are going to let us Loudoun/Fairfax people help pay tens of millions each year to cover the losses incurred because maintenance far exceeds income. Are you liking the idea of big trains a little less right now?
This Rail promotional pitch is like a scene out of the “Music Man” where the guy is telling us our community will never be complete if we don’t hurry up and buy into this big, expensive project. But reality will prevail if Rail to Loudoun goes through as it has played out many times where big government has tried to force rail where demand wouldn’t support it. It becomes a “black hole for money.”
Fairfax is seeing this reality right now because at the end of the day the savvy developers outsmart our elected people. This excerpt from the Washington Times foretells where Loudoun is heading.
Although the Dulles Rail Full Funding Agreement, which the county signed on March 10, 2009, does not contain the actual words "cost overruns," county spokeswoman Merni Fitzgerald pointed out that "the funding agreement is based on the total cost of the project no matter what the cost is; therefore, [Fairfax County] pays 16.1 percent of the total project cost."
The county will use their property taxes to fund its 16.1 percent share of Dulles Rail's still-spiraling costs, including an estimated $400 million more for Phase II, while they are simultaneously forced to pay tolls projected to reach as high as $17, according MWAA's own July 11 report.
…while contributions by the federal government and wealthy Tysons landowners remain capped. Fairfax taxpayers were originally told that the entire 23-mile Metrorail extension would cost $3.6 billion -- or half of its current price tag. That they're now on the hook for most, if not all, of any future cost overruns racked up by the same contractor that ran up the tab for Boston's "Big Dig".
The other movie this situation brings to mind is “Dumb and Dumber.” If Loudoun County is so dumb that it watches Fairfax get railroaded and then jumps up and says “me next”, I believe we will be proving that in the Who is Dumber, contest, Loudoun will be the undisputable winner.