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Petersen Jumps On the Train

Amy Gardner

State Sen. J. Chapman Petersen (D-Fairfax), who just the other day sent a letter to the Federal Transit Administration urging a "time out" on the approval process for a proposed Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport, has now signed a letter urging "immediate action" to approve the project's final design.

The more recent letter, dated today, was signed by a bipartisan collection of Northern Virginia lawmakers, including Del. Joe T. May (R-Loudoun), Del. James M. Scott (D-Fairfax), Del. Thomas Davis Rust (R-Herndon) and Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington).

"The Commonwealth has made extraordinary commitments to this project and to Metrorail generally. We have committed our most robust toll road to this project and just last year committed $50 million in new, dedicated Metrorail funds -- on top of the approximately $100 million that Virginia provides each year to the Metrorail system. We know you are aware of the $400 million private sector contribution to this project.

"If we do not act quickly, all of these public and private commitments will be lost. There will be no foreseeable future for rail in the Dulles corridor.

"Please take the necessary, immediate action to advance rail in the Dulles corridor."

The urgently worded letter represents a sharp contrast from Petersen's early letter, which bore a striking resemblance to another piece of correspondence sent to the FTA by Fairfax County Supervisor John W. Foust (D-Dranesville) urging the agency to call a "time-out" on the approval process so a tunnel option through Tysons Corner can be studied and competitively bid.

Petersen could not be reached for comment, so it's not clear if he sees no contradiction between the two letters or if he had second thoughts about his earlier demand for a "time out," which angered rail advocates including those within the administration of a fellow Democrat, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine.

By Amy Gardner  |  January 18, 2008; 2:48 PM ET
Categories:  Amy Gardner  
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