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Baise Vows to Stop Dulles Rail In Its Tracks

Bill Turque

Republican Gary H. Baise says that if elected Chairman of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors he would halt the planned Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport unless the elevated segment through Tysons Corner was built below ground.

"My first action would be to stop that project until we get it right," Baise said at a Thursday breakfast forum sponsored by the McLean Chamber of Commerce.

Baise, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Gerald E. Connolly, is on record supporting a Tysons tunnel. But this morning's pledge was his most explicit of the campaign on the Dulles project, which he has also criticized for its mushrooming cost, dearth of transparency and lack of competitive bidding on aspects of the contract. His vow drew applause from the audience at the Westin Tysons.

Baise also trashed Dulles Transit Partners, the private construction consortium headed by Bechtel and Washington Group International that would build the 11.6 mile first phase of the project from Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue in Reston. Bechtel was lead contractor on the notorious "Big Dig" highway project in Boston.

"I don't think these are two companies you can trust with the people' money," Baise said.

It's not completely clear what Baise could do about Dulles rail as chairman. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) heads the project. He could try to pull the county's share of the funding, which is in the form of revenue from a special taxing district comprised of land owners and businesses in the Dulles corridor. But he would need five four other votes on the nine-member board.

Baise's comments were part of a blunt exchange with Connolly on the Dulles extension. Connolly, who also supports a tunnel but believes the project must go forward, pointed out that the public-private partnership law allowing the state to negotiate with one contractor to build the rail line was signed by a Republican governor, James S. Gilmore III. He also cited Baise's criticism of Virginia Railway Express, suggesting that his opponent has an "obvious hostility to transit."

"I am not hostile to rail," Baise said. "I am hostile to stupid business decisions that take money out of people's pockets."

By Bill Turque  |  October 11, 2007; 4:18 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Debates , Fairfax County Chairman's Race 2007  
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Comments

It's a pity that Blaise's fantasies for Tyson's corner as Manhattan-in-Virginia threaten to derail the already highly endangered Dulles rail project -- which is endangered because even the above ground version chosen is over the cost-benefit limits set for the totally indispensable Federal funding. NYC has been waiting for the Second Avenue Subway since 1929. Tysons' corner fantasizers threaten to put Dulles rail on the same schedule.

Posted by: Thomas Ochiltree | October 11, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see some common sense, although too little too late. Rather than hold out for a tunnel in the hope of turing Tyson's into some urban shangri-la, a delusional idea given the lack of density--Clarendon it is not--the project should skip Tysons and run right up the airport road with stations in Reston and Herndon. Also, replacing Bechtel is very wise, but they are sharks (I know from experience) and getting rid of them will be pricey.

Posted by: vox populi | October 11, 2007 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Go full steam ahead, Mr. Blaise and get this developers' boondoggle and Gerry Connolly ego trip killed.

Then we can focus on what we REALLY need to spend $5.2 billion on - the insufficient road network and rail where it will actually fulfill the real puprose of transit.

Posted by: ceefer66 | October 11, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Just get Connelly out!

Posted by: Sic Semper Tyrannis | October 11, 2007 7:06 PM | Report abuse

What's with these people in Tysons and their delusions that they are urbane city-dwellers? Tysons is a joke, and no tunnel is going to turn it into a metropolis. But no, the tunnel proponents cry, no common riff-raff above-ground rail for them!

Look at the Chicago or New York City suburbs served by commuter rail. Above ground. It just makes sense. I hardly feel like paying much, much more just to satisfy some groups fantasy of what their "city" should be.

Posted by: Oz | October 11, 2007 7:12 PM | Report abuse

"I am not hostile to rail," Baise said. "I am hostile to stupid business decisions that take money out of people's pockets."...and puts it in my pocket in the form of more farm subsidies.

Baise should go back to Illinois where his land resides. He has no interest in Fairfax County except to run for political office.

Posted by: Michael | October 11, 2007 7:32 PM | Report abuse

I used to work in heavy construction, including estimating for Metro Rail. The idea that the state can negotiate a good deal for the taxpayers is joke. The poorest contractor can negotiate all the risk into the owner's hands, and make sure the contractor gets a profit even if the project is over budget (it will be), and delayed (it will be). The whole concept is like the VA senate playing a game of football with the Redskins. In real life, where contracts are put out for bid, the contractors take some risk to get the job. In negotiations, the contractor takes the most pessimistic side ("We need much more money") and then agrees to split the difference so long as they take no risk and make a profit. This is exactly what they should be doing, their repsponsibility is to their owners, putty the job out for makes sure you get the contractor who thinks they can do a better job be producing the product required for a lower price. The VA government has removed that incentive, and only left the profit motive.

Posted by: Harrison Picot | October 11, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Let's kill this overpriced project. Period. If there is more money to spend use it to fix the metro, not extend it.

Posted by: GOOD | October 11, 2007 8:09 PM | Report abuse

This will get Baise elected.

Posted by: Tom | October 11, 2007 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Hellooooo, stop planning for the present and plan for the future. An above ground Metro is fast and cheap, but an underground Metro fosters growth for the long run. Let's compare.

Above Ground:
-Ugly
-Loud
-Dangerous
-Reduces property values
-Bisects town (You'll have to build bridges everywhere, which adds to the ugliness)
-Creates pedestrian unfriendly town
-Faster to build
-Cheaper to build

Below Ground
-Allows for an planner to give Tysons a makeover and turn it into an urban area
-More $$$

I know that Tysons is a suburban disaster...it's an antiquated town where everything is built for motorists on Rt 7 and 123. But if they want to transform that disaster into the next Arlington, they need the Metro to be underground.

Posted by: Whoa whoa whoa | October 11, 2007 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Gary Baise? Hmmm, i was thinking his name was Linda Cropp for a second there. If only Mr. Baise was sincere in his motivation to fight for the Tysons tunnel. Thinking he's simply hoping to use the issue for get elected. Didn't work for Ms. Cropp and won't work for you.

Posted by: Chuck | October 11, 2007 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Baise is blatantly pandering for votes. His fake environmentalist act is bad enough. Now he would support holding up the rail extension that would benefit the whole region, to tell a bunch of fat cat corporate landowners in Tysons what they want to hear? Unbelievable. There is no way I would vote for this guy. Tysons will never be the urban utopia that the West Group pretends that it could be. Now the petulant Tysons Tunnel crowd would screw up everything for the whole region, so that they can prop up a pipe dream? Unbelievable.

Posted by: Mike | October 11, 2007 9:53 PM | Report abuse

This debate would not be occurring in any other developed country. The best possible investment that we could make would be to send the entire United States Congress, the Metro Board, the Fairfax County Board, the House of Representatives of the State of Virginia, and the Senate of the State of Virginia to China for a 30-day fact finding tour. the United States is in economic decline by every World-wide measure. We enjoy an ever shrinking portion of an ever growing pie. The federal govt folks have blinders on and simply follow the dictate of their simple masters, which is spend no money. The federal government can't distinguish between an expense and an investment when it comes to mass transit. The state agencies are simle slaves to theit federal government masters, whomever they may be. It is only the local representatives who truly have the long term perspective. yet, it is our local representatives who are ignored. The most strategic proposal is for Fairfax to do everything in its power to oppose above ground Metro through Tysons. Over time, the boaconstricter that represents the absolute stupidity of W's position will become widely apparent, at which time there will be no other palatable decision than to build the Tyson's segment underground. We didn't know the Bushies were retards when we voted for them, but they will soon be gone... and for a long, long time. Wait out the retards in the civil service placed there by the Bushies and all will be well again.

Posted by: Realist | October 11, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Ok everyone. That's it. It's time to kill this stupid project. The whole point of rail TO DULLES is to get people to the airport quicker. The best way to do that is go along the ACCESS ROAD. Period. Enough of the Tysons BS. It's a straight shot from Falls Church to Reston/Herndon/Airport. Tyson's is a nightmare. Nobody wants to live there.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 11, 2007 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Baise is right, let's halt this project.

He's also right that we need to build MORE ROADS.

Posted by: Jane | October 12, 2007 2:58 AM | Report abuse

More roads...? Now that's some forward thinking!

Posted by: Jim | October 12, 2007 4:46 AM | Report abuse

Geez! Imagine a Chairman of the Board who does not take obscene $ in developer contributions and who will stand up for what is right for his constituents and even "call them likes he sees them." Then have the audacity to attempt to correct past mistakes.
That would sound pretty scary to me, especially if I were a Bechtel or a few of the Tyson's money people... Except, I am not. I am however one those who will be paying for an extremely irregular rail contract and bad rail planning. You decide November 6. But please vote....no matter how you vote.

YOU

Posted by: Who pays? | October 12, 2007 5:40 AM | Report abuse

Build it above ground, save some money... if Tyson's wont take it above ground, route the rail around there and they can use metro _BUS_

Posted by: J | October 12, 2007 6:22 AM | Report abuse

Several points you commenters make are just false and/or not doable:

1. The metrorail extension MUST go through Tysons if there is any hope of receiving federal money. The ridership for the airport and Reston corridor does not meet the threshold for Federally-funded transportation project.

2. "So what?", you say, "Let's build it without federal money." Okay, and plan on building it with NO money from any of the Tysons tax district that was developed to help pay for the project. That means that you will be paying for the project through monies from the Reston corridor tax district and toll road users alone. Good luck on that one!

3. Don't forget that changing the plan at this stage in the game to "merely" go down the Dulles Connector Road means that the new project will require a full EIS (environmental impact), which could take upwards of two to three years.

4. The best chance of doing this entire project the RIGHT way is to put it out for BID now, that's right, as early as December, 2007 - then have the bidding process, including the award, done by mid-2008. Then save upwards of half a billion dollars on a TUNNEL solution - that's right, it's actually less expensive to build an underground metro since all utilities and the entire of Rte. 7 won't have to be moved (tunneling goes BENEATH all of that, you idiots!).

5. The competitive bidding aspect of the project then satisfies the FTA, the cost of the project then satisfies the FTA, the schedule then satisfies the FTA (it takes less time to bore a tunnel underground since you don't have delays for holiday commerce, weather, etc. - that machine works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week), AND, last but certainly not least, the FTA is happy because the LOCALS are happy - that's right, the Locally Preferred Alternative is indeed a tunnel. Reference John Foust (D) for Dranesville Supervisor's poll from August/September of this year.

WHY IS THIS SO HARD FOR YOU PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND?!

Gary Baise has it right! I'm not even a Republican but I'll vote for the guy because he actually understands that Fairfax County squandered its leverage on this project when it voted to capitulate to the State. Shame on you Gerry Connolly et al.!!!

Posted by: InTheKnow | October 12, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

From everything I have heard, Mr. Turque, Gerry Connolly does NOT support a tunnel. Anyone can wear an "Under Not Over" button but those people don't have the power to approve Fairfax County's portion of the funding for this massive project. Mr. Connolly does. His record does not show support from the heart for a tunnel of any kind except for the 1/2 mile tunnel as part of elevated rail that will emerge at the doorstep of SAIC -- the company that employs him.

Posted by: esmobster | October 12, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

It's not just that Connolly gets his campaign $ from developers, that's where he gets his personal paycheck, too. He worked for West Group, the largest landowner in Tysons. He now works for SAIC, who gets a station right at their office driving up their property value tremendously. Yet he claims that SAIC has no business before the County, in spite of this.

When asked about his employment by SAIC, he says "It's none of your business." Actually, given the appearance of corruption (that's more accurate than "conflict of interest), it is our business.

Some better coverage can be found at
http://www.examiner.com/a-970782~Leading_Fairfax_deeper_into_gridlock.html

and a letter from a previous Democratic County Chair calling for rail to stick to the median is at
http://www.examiner.com/a-978982~Letters__October_9__2007.html

Well worth reading.

Posted by: Q-vote | October 15, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

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