Del. Hugo holding up Arlington funding over HOT lanes suit
Del. Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax) is holding up about $1 million in potential tourism dollars for Arlington because of the county's HOT lanes lawsuit, in particular because the county is suing federal and state officials as private citizens, he said.
A bill, sponsored by Del. Robert H. Brink (D-Arlington), which would renew an existing surcharge paid by Arlington hotel guests is sitting in Hugo's finance subcommittee, as was first reported on Not Larry Sabato.
The county has reportedly spent more than $1 million on a federal lawsuit filed in 2009 against both federal and state Departments of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and top officials at the time, including Pierce Homer, a former Virginia secretary of transportation. The suit alleges that the agencies did not fully evaluate the environmental impacts to the communities surrounding the project on I-95/I-395.
"If they have so much money to spend on frivolous, intimidating, abusive lawsuits on private individuals," then they do not need the tax, Hugo said.
He noted that he is sticking up for fellow officials regardless of their party, such as Democrat Homer, and that the lawsuit could chill future public-private initiatives nationwide.
The delegate also has filed three budget amendments that prohibit the state from funding the Columbia Pike streetcar, reduces transportation funding because of delaying the HOT lanes project and requiring an audit of Arlington's road maintenance funding from the state.
"There are serious issues with the HOT lanes project ... and we are hoping they can be resolved," said Chris Zimmerman, chairman of the Arlington County Board, who noted the March 2009 resolutions from the Alexandria City Council and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors that agree with many of Arlington's concerns.
Without the proper studies being done in the project area, "Northern Virginia can find itself in truly intolerable gridlock," he said.
Arlington representatives in Richmond have been discussing the issue with Hugo, said Patricia Carroll, the county's legislative liaison.
"I like to think that even though legislation and budget negotiations are referred to as sausage making, that we can have a discourse like reasonable people and talk about these things," she said.
Action on Brink's bill -- either referred out of committee or tabled for another week -- is slated for Wednesday, she said.
"With the General Assembly, often a day feels like a week. There are many things that could happen," Carroll said. "And we have another 24 hours."
| January 25, 2011; 3:47 PM ET
Categories: Arlington County, Christy Goodman, Fredrick Kunkle, General Assembly, Transportation
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