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Fairfax Gets Enough Signatures for Dulles Rail Tax

Fairfax County has scrapped together enough signatures of landowners to create a special tax district, the "missing piece" in the public-funding plan for 23 miles of Metro stations from Reston to Dulles International Airport and beyond, officials said Thursday.

An announcement is scheduled for Friday.

"I'm delighted. This brings us another step closer to having stations in the Herndon-Reston area as part of rail to Dulles," said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D).

The Western Alliance for Rail to Dulles, a nonprofit group made up of Fairfax landowners, has worked to collect a 51 percent majority of affected landowners to create the tax district, which would pay for about $330 million in capital funding for the project.

To implement the district, the group needs support from either a majority of the affected landowners or from owners controlling a majority of the land in the area. The petition now needs approval from the Herndon Town Council and Fairfax's Board of Supervisors.

U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), a former chairman of the Fairfax board, called the announcement critical to ensuring that Metro would extend its service through Fairfax and into Loudoun County.

He said a lack of unity in creating a uniform tax district in 2003 for Fairfax's western corridor had buoyed fears that public financing for Metro would never come to fruition.

"It's an important move during a time where a lot of businesses are hurting," Connolly said. "But Metro absolutely has to be a significant influence in the future of the corridor."

Connolly said that while the economic climate might have delayed some businesses with signing up for the tax district, he pointed to a recent announcement by defense contractor Science Applications International Corp. that it would move its headquarters to Tysons Corner, along with 1,100 immediate new jobs, as a sign of the financial health of the region.

"The case had to be made to the business community that this was a decision that was out of self interest for the future," he said. "You do not want to be stranded without rail service, like Georgetown."

The alliance had encouraged landowners to sign up by Tuesday, arguing that the Metro stations, once completed, would allow for increased density and development.

By Derek Kravitz  |  October 8, 2009; 4:01 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax County Board of Supervisors , Gerald E. Connolly , Transportation  
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