- The Washington Times - Monday, January 5, 2004

The newest member of the Metro Board comes from an area at the heart of the proposed Dulles rail expansion.

Catherine Hudgins is the Fairfax County supervisor representing the Hunter Mill District, which runs from Washington Dulles International Airport through Reston and Tysons Corner — neighborhoods that would be served by the planned subway extension.

“That’s a very critical project not only to my district in Fairfax County, but it’s a critical regional project,” Mrs. Hudgins said yesterday after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors selected her to be the county’s alternate on the Metro Board. The appointment fills the Metro vacancy left by Katherine K. Hanley, who did not seek re-election as Board of Supervisors chairman. Mrs. Hanley was also a strong supporter of Dulles rail service.

“There has been pretty much major support for the project. The issue is finances. And I think we will hopefully have a resolution to that,” Mrs. Hudgins told the Associated Press.

The total estimated price tag is more than $3 billion. Last month, the Herndon Town Council vetoed a special transit tax district, throwing a monkey wrench into the financing plan. Still, Mrs. Hudgins is confident the project will become a reality.

“I don’t think there is a lack of commitment to bringing rail in the corridor. I think right now it’s ironing out the concerns and differences that people have about financing,” Mrs. Hudgins said.

Dulles project officials estimate that rail service to Reston would attract 56,600 average weekday riders in the proposed opening year of 2009. The second phase to Loudoun County would attract 78,100 riders when stations open in 2015. Mrs. Hudgins calls the project crucial to “maintain the vitality of the corridor,” which she said now has nearly 17,000 people riding buses each day.

“In order to meet the capacity that the study has shown, we can’t build enough roads in order to move cars or in order to remove buses out of congestion. We do need to move people, and rail is the alternative,” Mrs. Hudgins said. She also agrees with Metro Chief Executive Officer Richard A. White that the agency needs to focus on getting people to and from subway stations by bus, rather than building more parking spaces.

Mrs. Hudgins says she also would like to see a dedicated funding source for Metro, which now relies on fares and government funds.

“We have it for roads; we need to have it for transit,” she said, though she did not offer specifics.

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