Gov. Kaine Sticks by Dulles Rail
Gov. Tim Kaine hasn't given up on the project, despite the hard hit it took last week from Federal Transit Administrator James Simpson and his boss, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.
He talked about the next step on Dulles rail this morning on WTOP's Ask the Governor show:
"Our game plan: Work with the secretary's office, answer the questions that the administrator has raised and make this critical project happen."
Kaine and other officials behind the project took the FTA's response last week as you might take an unfair performance evaluation at work, when it sounds like the bosses were saving stuff up to unload on you all at once. The person on the receiving end is bound to be thinking about all the times the bosses could have said some of these things, and wonder why they're piling on now.
Kaine noted on the radio, as other Virginia leaders did in today's story by Amy Gardner in The Post, that the FTA sent a report to Congress last week "with the project greenlighted." But Kaine would not attribute any motives to the surprise drubbing the feds delivered last week.
Instead, he reviewed Virginia's case for having dealt with federal concerns about the project's cost-effectiveness. Such projects must meet tough federal standards on the cost of moving people by train.
He also noted some of the other concerns raised by the FTA: Does the Washington airports authority, which manages Dulles and Reagan National airports, have the experience to manage a $5 billion railroad construction project? Can Metro, with its funding and operational problems, run a new train line once it's built?
Kaine today: "We didn't see any concern raised that we didn't think, gosh, if this is your concern, we've got an answer for it."
Peters has agreed to continue the discussion.
If there is a Plan B, Kaine would not acknowledge it. Instead, he talked about finding ways to succeed with the plan developed over the past few years to put the line through Tysons and on out to Dulles. There is really not an effective course for the region without rail, he said.
"The entire premise of this is that if we're going to build rail infrastructure to this important asset, Dulles, we have to have a federal partner."
What if we don't? Kaine said he didn't like the idea of using higher tolls on the Dulles Toll Road to raise the $900 million that would have come from the federal government. "My worry would be that the toll requirements would be exorbitant," he said.
But his bottom line about the rail link was: "This is necessary for the region."
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