- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2002

At the groundbreaking for a parking garage at a subway station yesterday, Gov. Mark R. Warner warned that similar projects will be scarce unless Northern Virginia residents approve a half-percent sales-tax increase this fall.
Construction on the six-story, 1,000-space garage at the Franconia-Springfield Metro station will start later this month. It will welcome its first parkers by fall of 2003.
At the groundbreaking, U.S. Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, reiterated what commuters already know that the 4,000-space garage fills sometime after 7 a.m.
"This is probably only going to move that until 8 o'clock, but that is progress," Mr. Moran said.
Fairfax County will contribute $2.8 million, and the state will pay the balance for the $15.8 million garage.
Along with sticking a shovel into a pile of dirt, Mr. Warner, a Democrat, used his appearance to lobby Northern Virginia voters to approve a regional sales-tax increase in November to pay for transit projects.
Mr. Warner said 60 percent of the funds will go toward mass transit, including $350 million to bring Metro to the fast-growing area around Washington Dulles International Airport.
Metro anticipated 6,000 riders a day when the Franconia-Springfield Metro station opened five years ago. But 9,000 passengers boarded the first day, and the station now carries 19,000 passengers each weekday.
"If there was ever a case of Kevin Costner's 'Field of Dreams' 'If you build it and they will come' it's this station," Mr. Warner said.
Metro General Manager Richard A. White said the transit agency must build more garages and make stations more friendly for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Mr. Warner said transportation planners need more money and a realistic budget so they can do long-term planning to resolve the region's transportation problems.
"Incrementalism will simply lead to more asphalt-only solutions," Mr. Warner said.


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