Dulles rail could stall slew of other Va. projects

Issue snarls budget vote

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Bob Chase, president of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, a coalition of area trade groups, said the Dulles rail conundrum is emblematic of the state’s failure to seriously create a long-term, sustainable revenue stream for transportation.

“If the governor and the General Assembly won’t put new money into transportation, the question becomes: Where do you get $300 million for this or $300 million for something else without taking it from other projects?” he said. “Without new money, … you end up dumping one bucket into another bucket. On the one hand, you fill up one bucket, but you have a dozen other empty buckets.”

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors gave its blessing to the second leg of the 23-mile Dulles project, but it is undetermined whether the all-Republican Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will sign off on it before a July 4 deadline. Lawmakers have been wary about the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s insistence that it grant a 10 percent scoring bonus to contractors bidding on the second phase who enter into a pre-project collective bargaining agreement that opponents say favors union labor and could drive up costs.

The state of Virginia also has engaged in a pitched battle with the authority over the so-called project labor agreements and has said the $150 million is in question if the airports authority does not back down on the issue.

“As part of the negotiations with the rail project partners and Transportation Secretary [Ray] LaHood, the commonwealth pledged $150 million for the project,” airports authority spokeswoman Tara Hamilton said. “As agreed, we plan to use those funds to reduce future toll rate increases.”

Mr. Connaughton said state law dictates that they cannot provide a grant that discriminates for or against labor groups on a project.

So what happens if the project labor agreement provision remains?

“At the end of the day, the Commonwealth Transportation Board will not allocate the money,” he said.

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