Thursday, December 15, 2011

Virginia’s Big Dig-Rail-to-Dulles Story is Huge

You can help stop the
Virginia Rail Big Dig by contacting your county supervisor and your state representatives

click here for contact info 

Hello citizens of Virginia,
It’s been a few weeks since we updated you to let you know about how Election Day polls showed the growing majority of support for getting Loudoun County out of what Attorney General calls a “financial boondoggle.”
How big is this project, people ask? In fact this project is so big, so expensive, and so out of control, we are renaming it “Virginia’s Big Dig.” It started out with a cost estimate of $1.9 billion in 2000 and is presently pushing $7 billion. That is really no surpise when you consider Bechtel is the contractor for the original Big Dig and now for Virginia's Big Dig. They, Bechtel, design it as they go and have a no-bid contract. Sweet deal for them as they play and we pay! 
 “It is a story about the power of government to commandeer billions of dollars of resources from taxpayers and to shower private-sector interests with billions of dollars in engineering contracts, construction contracts, bond deals and development opportunities.” says blogger Jim Bacon of Bacon’s Rebellion
Thomas Cranmer, an economist from Fairfax, put together this summary of issues with Phase 2 of the "Virginia Big Dig" sometimes called Rail to Dulles and Loudoun.  Read more here
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says that it should be killed and calls it an "economic boondoggle" the state doesn't need.
"It's just not worth it," Cuccinelli said in a recent appearance on WMAL radio. "It's a rip-off."
Cuccinelli also took issue with the airports authority's decision to pursue a union-friendly labor agreement for Phase 2. Virginia is a right-to-work state, meaning that union membership is not required to secure a job. The contractor, Dulles Transit Partners, voluntarily adopted a similar labor agreement for the project's first phase. Read More Here

How these mega-projects are sold to trusting people is an outrage. Two New Studies show a pattern of bias against transportation modes such as buses and a pattern of distorting rail budgets and projections to sell rail to the public. All this seems to be part of the effort to keep the hype up on rail, which is a far more expensive transit option than buses. The results often leave taxpayers stuck with far more dept than was promised, as with the Big Dig.
Dulles Toll Corridor prime example of bias & mis-selection Read More Here
Cited as an example of rigged selection against bus is the Dulles Toll Road corridor where an approximate $6 billion rail transit line is currently under construction, the financing being heavily based on toll revenue bonds.
Scholars have also found that it can be politically rewarding to lie about the costs and benefits of a project

Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University says, "Unfortunately, studies
 (see page 4) have shown that project promoters routinely ignore, hide, or otherwise leave out important project costs and risks to make total costs appear lower. Researchers refer to this as the “planning fallacy” or the “optimism bias.” Scholars have also found that it can be politically rewarding to lie about the costs and benefits of a project. The data show that the political process is more likely to give funding to managers who underestimate the costs and overestimate the benefits. In other words, it is not the best projects that get implemented but the ones that look the best on paper." she also said, "...9 out of 10 rail projects overestimate the actual traffic. Moreover, 84 percent of rail-passenger forecasts are wrong by more than 20 percent. Thus, for rail, passenger traffic averages 51.4 percent less than estimated traffic. This means that there is a systematic tendency to overestimate rail revenues."

Senator Richard Black and Delegate Bob Marshall

Propose Legislation Efforts are underway by Virginia Delegates and Senators to block handing over any money to MWAA for rail unless they back-off their insistence on importing union labor, and they are demanding MWAA submit to open audit and FOIA laws.
Robert G. Marshall, R-Manassas, has
filed a bill to prohibit the use of state revenues for construction of Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project unless the project meets three transparency standards. Senator-elect Dick Black R-Prince William, Loudoun submitted a companion bill.

This is where we are headed if people do not speak up.

Commuters get stuck in traffic and pay $17 tolls each way by 2020, while a few rail users will get an almost free ride.
Drivers will vote with their routes and clog nearby roads but they will still pay one way or another.
Rail stations generate far more traffic than they eliminate, which in turn requires more expensive road upgrades.
Construction jobs go out of state with the PLA-like terms that are part of the union payoff favored by the MWAA board.
Virginia may or may  choose not to participate financially in this project that will send jobs to out of state union halls in defiance of its right to work laws and at a time when jobs are precious. Keep in mind the money to pay for those jobs, and the cost of the project overall is coming out of the pockets of Virginia taxpayers and commuters.
Local budgets will be forced to deal with competing interests if local communities are strapped with massive capital costs and a share of maintaining the aging Metro fleet. The estimated annual  maintenance cost share for Loudoun is forecast to be $33 million which is about $25million more than it will take in annually. And those costs will likely climb if they are based on deliberately inaccurate projections.
Schools and other programs will suffer as they compete for a limited amount of local and state money.
You can help stop the Virginia Rail Big Dig by contacting your county supervisor and your state representatives and writing letters to editors

David LaRock
Hamilton Virginia

representatives contact info

No comments:

Post a Comment