- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The latest mass-transit spending splurge in the D.C. region will likely be a new Metrorail station located a skip and a hop across the Potomac River in Rosslyn in Northern Virginia.

The new station on the Blue Line is part of the 2013 Metro plan, which kinda, sorta gives an idea of what the transit system could look like in 2025 and 2040, and brings to mind that the projected cost back then for the new station was $1 billion.

And those facts lead to other, future Metro spending possibilities: A rail tunnel from Northern Virginia. A rail tunnel under the Potomac from Northern Virginia. A rail tunnel under the Potomac from Northern Virginia that leads to Georgetown. A rail tunnel under the Potomac from Northern Virginia that leads to Georgetown to another new Metrorail station.

Metro and other regional planners and transit aficionados call the plan a “realignment.” Taxpayers should dub it a “splurge” and “fake news.”

Here’s why: In 2012, the projected cost for an underground Metrorail station for Washington Dulles International Airport access was $3.8 billion. By nixing an underground station and making some other cost cuts, the estimate for the new Silver Line station dropped to $2.7 billion.

Five years ago. A billion here, a billion there.

Transit and planning officials don’t mind the spending because it’s not their money. It’s the public’s money.

Metro officials are scheduled to vote Thursday on the new Rosslyn station because the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority has backed up its proposal with a $2 million pledge to “begin the process to address capacity issues at Rosslyn station as well as reliability issues.”

The real news is that Metro has serious reliability issues. For example, commuters who frequent the Red Line learned this the hard way when their travels were snarled because of faulty communications cables — the cables that help relay trains’ speed and location. As a smart safety precaution, part of the Red Line will be shut down this weekend.

But, oh, the Red Line doesn’t run into or out of Virginia, and Metro is under the impression its overseers have to give a nod because the Northern Virginia transportation group’s deadline for grant applications is Friday.

Metro authorities ought not worry about the deadline, though. Another Democrat will soon be the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and he and the current governor are cut from the same cloth.

Yep, Ralph Northam announced Wednesday his appointees to oversee the state’s transportation policies and priorities.

No surprise, however, that Mr. Northam said, “I’m committed to tackling the challenges we face and continuing our achievements as the 73rd governor.”

His choice for director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Transportation? A Gov. Terry McAuliffe holdover named Jennifer Mitchell, who, among other things, served as manager of project finance for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

Metro reliability issues? The beat goes on.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]


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