Friday, June 15, 2012

If the U.S. Government Can Opt Out, Why Can’t Loudoun?

Could it be That We Have Something Backwards?

"How will Loudoun County pay for the Silverline now that the Federal government has opted out?",  This question has yet to be resolved, and probably never will be. That is because everyone wants the Metro when it is free but nobody likes it  nearly as much when they get a glimpse at the price tag.

In the last few weeks the Loudoun supervisors have studied this important decision, which they inherited from another time and another Board who bought into an idea without any set terms or costs. Some Supervisors are willing to do what the Board should do; they are questioning this proposal

The fact is we are not getting good answers.  Its time to start asking the right questions. Just forget what the pro-rail press releases say for a minute and think about these questions.
  1. How can the transportation needs of Loudoun be addressed efficiently?
  2. Does Rail to Dulles and Loudoun work for us?
  3. Are there benefits that justify the costs?
  4. Should the public be burdened with the costs?   

Gabriel Roth
Randal O'Toole
 Randall O’Toole
Loudoun Opt Out Group offers this information from Gabriel Roth and Randall O’Toole, who have studied similar projects all over the world. Analyzing and reporting on tranportation is what they do. They have offered input that should carry a lot of weight considering Loudoun is now looking for ways to buy a tranportation product that may be a poor fit for the County's needs. Randall O'Toole also has  the novel idea that transit could be privatized and the users would be the payers.

The RCLCO Study said no net increase, just a shift of business. The 2004 FEIS said no significant improvement in traffic for $6 billion. A purchase that is a mismatch and that will become a permanent liability is nothing to rush into.

Here are some suggestions to get around  some of the problems with the project:


Loudoun should have the funding mechanisms in place before voting to opt in to the project. This would require another extension of time from the other funding partners, as there is no way the legislature can approve the creation of rail tax districts before July 4. The Board should vote to Opt Out until funding is fully secured.


Reston unrest over old Dulles Toll Road toll 

system and its disparate per mile tolls 

If Loudoun chooses to enter the project, tolls will go up as planned on Jan. 1, 2013, and it will decrease mobility and isolate Loudoun from DC and Fairfax. If Loudoun Opts Out, the funding agreement will have to be reworked, and with or without Loudoun, a better funding plan could be negotiated. Loudoun could negotiate with MWAA for relief from soaring toll rates. Loudoun taxpayers and commuters should not be forced to finance a transit mode they won't be using.


Rail will be built to the Rt. 28 Station and Dulles Airport with or without Loudoun County. Loudoun residents could ride buses to the Rt. 28 Station bus drop areas on the north or south side of the Toll Road. Planned and proposed interchanges on Rt. 7 will make access to the Rt. 28 Station more convenient for those who choose not to ride buses. 
From Rt. 28 towards DC, the best way to decrease traffic congestion on the Dulles Corridor would be to institute electronic variable tolling on the Dulles Airport Access Road and allow HOV/Bus traffic. The eight miles of I-66 from the Toll Road to Washington, DC, still need improvement, but in the meanwhile, added buses could easily deliver commuters to the West Falls Church Station on the Orange Line via their dedicated exit from the Toll Road.

Dan Davies

David LaRock

Loudoun Opt Out Group

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