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Dulles Rail Doubts

POSTED: 11:27 AM ET, 01/25/2008 by The Editors

When federal authorities announced they would not fund the Metro extension to Dulles International Airport without significant changes to the plan, they cited several reasons, including their doubts that Metro could absorb the extension into an already troubled system. "Metro's operational issues have become really serious over the last several months," said Federal Transit Administration chief James S. Simpson. Citing Metro's funding problems and needed repairs, he said the expansion would be comparable to putting an addition on a crumbling house. "First, you have to fix the house," he said. In 2005, Post reporters published a four-part series detailing Metro's problems, including misspent funds and safety problems that could have been prevented.

By The Editors |  January 25, 2008; 11:27 AM ET D.C. Region
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The approach of the FTA has all the hallmarks of justifying a decision already made. The concerns are not invalid; it is just that they could, and should, have been raised months, years in same cases, ago.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | January 25, 2008 1:28 PM

These concerns are obvious to anyone who has taken more than a 5 minute look at the proposal. Not only do I agree with the FTA, but I give them a "heck yes" pat on the back. Building this project just to build it is the WRONG answer. Building a project that would be beneficial, accomplish long-term goals, and make this a better place to live is the correct answer.

Posted by: Steven | January 25, 2008 1:52 PM

Boston's Big Dig started out a $2B project that ended up as a $14B disaster. FTA is right - these gigantic transit projects, run by people with no experience -but with access to huge sums of somebody else's money, lead to tragedy. If you need a closer example, wait for the final bill for the ICC. And if 900mil is a deal killer, where was the other $4.1B going to come from?

Posted by: Tom | January 25, 2008 3:14 PM

Thank you FTA for the courage to withhold support for the proposed Tysons-Dulles metro. Your position clearly shows that the public's interest is being well served. The design of the elevated system through Tysons Corners should now be rendered to the trash heap of history.

Posted by: HK: McLean | January 25, 2008 4:26 PM

Seriously, I call shenanigans on FTA. We have been reading about this project for months and years, as well as all the issues with Metro. This project will go forward.

What is astounding to me is that the Feds are only in for 1/5th of this budget and yet they are the linchpin. It's a testament to the power of local government and local business that the other 4/5ths can be funded. It's just too bad they can't find the resources to tell the Feds to go play with by themselves.

Posted by: Phil | January 25, 2008 5:34 PM

There is no money in the federal budget for public works. That would include protecting seaports from terrorists, inspecting bridges and fixing them just in time to prevent collapse, swinging in to disaster areas to serve the public good according to proven and effective plans, repairing existing highways, coping with sprawl that the government encourages, and so on and so forth. No. There is no money in the budget for public works. That would mean coddling the public. There will be no coddling under a Republican administration. Except for businesses. They get all the coddling they can use. No bid high cost contracts. Endless, unproductive wars. Inadvisable policy decisions outsourcing government functions to contractors without oversight or accountability. It is one year and counting until the end of this disastrous eight year reign of mean spiritedness and stupidity. Government exists to serve ALL the people. Not the other way around.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | January 26, 2008 1:36 AM

I agree with BlueTwo1;
We have and continue to squander trillions on defense contractors,yet nothing for us here at home. I would like drinkable water, reliable electricity,a scrubber on the mercury spewing mirant coal plant,etc.(not to mention safer bridges, roads and borders).
Charity begins at home.

Posted by: thopaine | January 26, 2008 6:10 AM

None of this is a surprise but a solution does exist. More than $1 billion of the cost comes from doing a detour off the Route 267 right of way to aid a few landowners in Tysons but, even with the hugely expensive detour, they admit they will still need feeder buses to service the Tysons area. Just stay on Route 267 all the way to Dulles, save over a billion dollars, avoid the aerial railway that has many people upset, aviod the engineering difficulties of moving utilities, and the problems are pretty much solved.

Posted by: Ron Henry | January 26, 2008 9:38 AM

We all know that Metro has been less than perfect system for all these years not to mentioned very under-funded. But what about future of Northern Virginia? Virginians in DC metro are already feeling the pain of short sighted public transport visions. Dulles Metro can bring a sustained economic growth to DC metro area. And to realize that sustained vision, investment is needed today instead of of more questions.

I say if the feds cant see this vision, then money should be raised through public-private funds by the commonwealth. We dont need people in Washington DC to dictate future of Northern Virginia.

Posted by: mc-concerned | January 26, 2008 11:19 AM

Build something less pretentious.

Posted by: DW | January 26, 2008 1:23 PM

I sit and wonder what is the premium we are paying to have this a 'Metrorail' solution? I look at VRE or MARC and say 'why does it have to 'fit in' with the existing Metrorail to be an option? Train stops on the VRE cost a fraction of a Metrorail staiton and the engines/rolling stock don't have to be custom made to the exacting standards of the Metrorail.

Perhaps the W&OD bike trail should revert back to rails? Goes almost all the way to Dulles.

I'd like to take rail to Dulles, but honestly, this was more about allowing developers to build monumental skyscrapers on their property than handling the current transportation requirements of Northern Virginia.

Posted by: Andrew | January 26, 2008 4:14 PM

They must first add more trains to the system before extending it to Dulles. The FTA should convert the extra tunnel that's currently only used for national security purposes to civilian use. Then express trains can run with local trains. Barring that, then the Dulles link should be luxury buses in specialized lanes. The luxury bus solution is actually very inexpensive and tremendously more convenient. It's just the realtors who resist the word "bus."

Posted by: blasmaic | January 27, 2008 8:28 PM

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