- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 31, 2011

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has conditionally signed off on a funding agreement for the $2.8 billion Phase 2 of the Dulles Metrorail project, pledging to kick in $150 million in state funds as long as certain provisions are met.

The agreement is contingent on several conditions, including the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s (MWAA) agreeing to “fully comply in a timely manner” with legislation passed by Congress that increases the number of board members from 13 to 17, that automatically removes members at the expiration of their term, and that allows jurisdictions to remove appointees for cause.

The legislation, introduced by Rep. Frank Wolf, Virginia Republican, granted Mr. McDonnell two additional appointments to the board, and the District and Maryland one new appointee apiece. Virginia had controlled five seats, the District and the federal government three, and Maryland had two.

Virginia would also have the right to examine all of the contract documents for the 11.6-mile extension of the rail “to ensure they do not violate this Commonwealth’s right-to-work law or other statutes or policies.”

The extension is to stretch from Wiehle Avenue in Reston through Dulles Airport and into Loudoun County. Construction for Phase 1, which will extend from East Falls Church to Reston, is already underway and is expected to be finished in 2013.

“This is a very important project for the region,” Mr. McDonnell wrote in a Dec. 30 letter to Michael Curto, incoming chairman of the MWAA board. “We remain hopeful that changes in law and MWAA membership will usher in a new era of fiscal responsibility and cooperation to manage these great airports and associated transportation networks with excellence and high regard for the taxpayers of Virginia.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced in November that a deal to shave approximately $1 billion from Phase 2’s price tag had been struck between the relevant stakeholders, which also include Fairfax and Loudoun counties and Metro. The deal calls for Virginia to contribute $150 million in additional money for Phase 2, which still must be approved by the state legislature.

Under the funding agreement, proceeds from the Dulles Toll Road will account for much of the revenues for the project, with additional money coming from the federal government, the local counties and the airports authority.

Tolls on the Dulles Toll Road are set to increase 25 cents on Jan. 1 to $1.50 at the main plaza, the final increase in a three-year set of rate hikes.

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