- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fairfax County on Tuesday conditionally endorsed Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s plan to cut roughly $1 billion in costs from the second leg of the Dulles Metrorail project.

Under the plan, any cost shifts to the county — such as the Route 28 Metro station, estimated at $83 million, as well as two parking garages — would hinge on Fairfax receiving adequate funding, including federal loans.

Members of the county Board of Supervisors said they would make “every reasonable effort” to find funding options to reduce the county’s burden, including public-private partnerships or federal loans.

The deal follows similar resolutions approved by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and Loudoun County that link the three in a partnership to lower costs of the estimated $3.5 billion project.

“We roll up our sleeves, we work with our other partners in making rail to Dulles happen,” said board Chairman Sharon Bulova, at-large Democrat.

MWAA earlier this month reversed its decision to build a more-expensive underground station at the Washington Dulles International Airport, bowing to pressure from state, local and federal officials who have been working with Mr. LaHood on an alternative proposal.

MWAA Board Chairman Charles Snelling said the decision is now out of the board members’ hands.

“We’ve already done our part, and we’ll continue to do our part,” he said. “It’s up to the others as to whether they do their part.”

A draft memorandum of understanding calls for Virginia to contribute at least an additional $150 million toward the project.

However, Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, has not made clear whether his administration will give the additional money.

He proposed on WTOP Radio’s “Ask the Governor” program Tuesday that the MWAA board revisit its vote to implement a project labor agreement for the second leg of the 23-mile Metrorail extension to Dulles.

Opponents argue that the agreement — between a contractor and one or more labor groups that sets specific work schedules, wages and worker benefits — could favor union workers and run afoul of Virginia’s right-to-work law.

Supporters say such an agreement, voluntarily adopted by Dulles Transit Partners after winning the bid for the first leg of the project, has led to a well-trained workforce, a steady supply of union construction workers and a cost-effective project.

Dulles Transit Partners, the contractor for the $2.75 billion Phase 1 of the project, which will stretch from East Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue, voluntarily adopted the agreement after securing the bid. But that agreement exempted nonunion subcontractors.

Mr. McDonnell also wants more representation on the 13-member MWAA board, which has five Virginia members. Only one of them, former Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, was appointed by the Republican governor.

“To get this deal done and for Virginia to put some money on the table to keep the tolls down for our citizens, we’ve got to make sure we have a decent seat at the table,” he said.

Fairfax Supervisor Jeff McKay, Lee Democrat, blasted Virginia for not issuing a firm commitment on the funding.

“It’s not even the state putting in money.” he said. “It’s the state not putting back in money that they take from us.”

Mr. Snelling and Mrs. Bulova said they understand that Virginia will contribute its share, and Mrs. Bulova said additional federal funding also would be made available to help defray costs to the county.

Stakeholders are set to meet again Friday with Mr. LaHood. Mr. Snelling has said that he wants to see a formal memorandum of understanding agreed upon by all the stakeholders so that it can be presented to the board for a vote at its Aug. 3 meeting.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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