A compromise proposal on funding for the second leg of the Dulles Rail project has Virginia kicking in an extra $150 million, in part to help cut down on toll rates on the Dulles toll road; some estimates have the toll rates jumping to as high as $17 over the next 30 years.
But Gov. Bob McDonnell, Republican, said Tuesday that for Virginia to consider ponying up more money to aid the project, the Metropolitan Washing ton Airports Authority (MWAA) should revisit its vote to implement a project labor agreement for the second leg of the 23-mile extension that opponents argue could favor union workers and run afoul of Virginia’s right-to-work law.
On WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program, he called the board’s reversal on its vote for a controversial, more-expensive underground station at the Dulles Metrorail station “a victory for common sense and a victory for the taxpayer,” but added that they still have a long way to go dealing with structural issues on the board, noting that just 5 of the 13 members are Virginia appointees.
McDonnell also expressed concern about the project labor agreement the board voted to use for contracts on the second leg of the project that sets specific work schedules, wages, and benefits, saying that it would violate the state’s right-to-work laws. Specific language on the agreement, however, has not yet been ironed out.
Proponents of the measure point to the fact that such an agreement, voluntarily adopted by Dulles Transit Partners after winning the bid for the first leg of the project, has provided a well-trained workforce, steady supply of union construction workers, and a cost-effective project. The cost for the first leg, to run from East Falls Church to eastern Reston, now sits at about $2.75 billion and is scheduled to be completed in 2013.
Opponents, though, including Associated Building Contractors, which represents merit shop contractors, argue that such an agreement would unnecessarily favor out-of-state union members and could drive up the costs of the project by 12 to 18 percent.
“What I cannot have is a structure put in place that dramatically ratchets up the tolls for future Virginians,” said McDonnell.
Dulles Toll Road users are currently on the hook for 75 percent of the cost of Phase 2 of the project, which will run from Wiehle Avenue through the airport and on to Ashburn. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, though, has been mediating talks with the airports authority and relevant stakeholders in Loudoun and Fairfax counties in hopes of shaving about $1 billion off of the $3.5 billion project, originally estimated to cost $2.5 billion.