Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project Presentation Comments, March 15
Last update: March 19, 2 p.m.
Dulles Rail, Phase 2 and Silver Line station name comments, questions, and answers from the public meeting presentation.
FCDOT – Fairfax County Department of Transportation
FTA – Federal Transit Administration
MWAA – Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
USDOT – United States Department of Transportation
VDOT – Virginia Department of Transportation
WMATA – Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Falls Church Meeting
Westgate Elementary School
March 15, 2012
Commenter supports the Dulles Rail project for people with disabilities. It will increase mobility, job opportunities, social opportunities, etc.
Note: Some questions and answers were summarized for better understanding of the discussion.
Q – My family has lived in McLean since the 1750s. I saw the
construction of Dulles Airport. I am concerned about cost and how money
is spent. I do not see this as something that’s frivolous. This is a
long-term investment in our future. Rail to Dulles needs to happen
for the long-term future of this area. The map of the Silver Line –
is that the original map that was created for the Silver Line?
A – We thank you for your comment and we continue to try and find reductions in cost for this project. In reference to your question of the Silver Line map shown in the presentation, Metro has not finalized the system wide map to include the Silver Line, the map shown was provided by the county to demonstrate how the Silver Line is connected to the existing system.
Q – Could you discuss the issue of train congestion at the Rosslyn Station?
A – On WMATA’s website under the Blue-Yellow Realignment “Rush Plus” plan outlines changes that will take place at the Rosslyn station and at other Metrorail lines to accommodate Silver Line trains. For additional information visit: www.wmata.com/about_metro/board_of_directors/board_docs/031011_03ABlueYellowRealignment.pdf
Q – The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce supports the Dulles Rail project. Are any specific alternative funding sources being formally evaluated?
A – The funding partners are looking at a number of different options. This includes federal, state, and additional assistance from the funding partners. Fairfax County is also looking at public private partnerships and assistance through the normal land development process. The county will be submitting a Federal USDOT TIGER Grant for the Route 28 Station.
Q – Why are you bidding Dulles Rail Phase 2? Isn’t this a single project?
A – Phase 2 is being handled as a separate project. Government contracts require projects to be competitively bid so we will have a competitive bidding process for Phase 2.
Q – How do you achieve consistency across contracts?
A – The project management and oversight team – WMATA, MWAA, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and the Commonwealth of Virginia – provide the consistency across contracts and contractors. The project has a Project Management Plan in place and we will use the framework we have established in Phase 1 to carry us into Phase 2.
Q – Will WMATA expand service to accommodate people who take very early flights or flights that arrive very late at night?
A –The Silver Line will operate under the existing Metrorail schedule; opening at 5:00am until midnight weeknights. Metro has not proposed a change to the operating schedule.
Q – Is WMATA taking into account that people with disabilities depend on the system even when weather is bad? People depend on the system to get to the airports.
A – The Silver Line will operate with the same open/close times at the rest of the Metrorail system. Stations will include redundant elevators and will be ADA compliant.
Q – Will Metrobus Route 5A run more frequently to Dulles Airport? Will it stop at one of the other metro stations, maybe West Falls Church?
A – Metrobus Route 5A stops at the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, and off-peak it stops at the Tysons-West*Park Transit Station in McLean. In July 2012, the 5A will no longer stop at Tysons-West*Park. Fairfax County is starting a new Fairfax Connector service that will stop at Tysons-West*Park and Tysons Corner Center, Herndon, and then Dulles Airport as a limited stop service. For planning purposes, the new Fairfax Connector route is called Route 981 (the route number may change before service begins). When Phase 1 of the Silver line opens, it would then be limited to Wiehle Avenue because rail service will be available. Route 5A will be terminated when Phase 2 opens because rail will be available.
Q – Is there any plan to expand East Falls Church Station?
A – No. Trains will be scheduled two to three minutes apart at rush hour.
Q – I support the Dulles Rail project. I share concern over toll rates. How about adding parking fees or passenger fees at the airport; are any of those suggestions being looked at?
A – The Dulles Rail funding partners are looking at all possible revenue options. Ideas provided by the public will be considered by the funding partners. A representative from MWAA is here tonight and he is aware of your recommendation.
Q – Fairfax County Taxpayer Alliance. A Fairfax County homeowner today is paying $1,000 more per household than in 2000. Another 200 nominal increase next year. On top of those, there would be another $1,000 in tolls for the toll road. Why would you approve a project that requires commuters to pay over 50% of the project, with commercial property owners only 20% of the bill? Shouldn’t property owners be paying 80% and the commuters 20%?
A – The special tax districts established are paying $730M of the County’s $900-$965M (75%-80%) share of the County’s share of the project. The tax districts were established buy petition of the landowners and the majority of the landowners had to volunteer and agree to be taxed. We spoke to the issue of toll revenue earlier – toll rates need to be sensitive to the cost of a commute on the toll road. The funding partners will continue to try to identify ways to make the project affordable.
Q – I am really excited for Dulles Rail to go forward. This means accessibility for people with disabilities. The Phase 2 project increases access to education, social, homeownership, all kinds of opportunities. How early will Metro run this line? I’m regularly at the airport at 4:30 a.m.
A – The Silver Line schedule will be the same as the current Metrorail schedule for other lines; opening at 5 a.m. until midnight weeknights. There is no plan currently to change the operating hours.
Q – Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance. Has the County received a legal opinion on the labor agreements that requires a 10% bonus for a contract with a Project Labor Agreement (PLA)?
A – A voluntary PLA does exist on Phase 1. The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) did include language on a PLA that was agreed upon by the state and MWAA. Any PLA will have to be fully compliant with Virginia law.
Q – The MWAA Board has said recently that it will give a 10% bonus before the evaluation. This is a new deal – to bid, there has to be a 10% bonus given to any bidder who has a PLA in place.
A – MWAA board had previously voted to have a mandatory PLA on Phase 2. At a meeting of February 26 the MWAA Board decided to no longer require a mandatory PLA but would follow the process that the General Services Administration (GSA) uses for a PLA. In summary any bidder committing to having a PLA during the procurement would qualifies for 10% scoring bonus.
Q – Virginia House Bill 33 forbids this kind (PLA) of a conflict.
A – Virginia House Bill 33 does not preclude MWAA from doing this since they are not a state agency. As written House Bill 33 would preclude state money to MWAA if they do provide preference to a bidder because of the PLA bonus.
[Note: additional questions were asked about the legal opinions on this issue; staff responded that no legal opinions have been issued at this time]
Q – Is there a representative from WMATA here tonight?
A – No.
Comment – Then let the record show that WMATA did not attend the meeting in McLean. Operating cost is a problem. WMATA has a $13B shortfall. How does the WMATA board intend for funding gap to be closed. WMATA doesn’t have a dedicated source of revenue. Problem is there’s not enough money to operate the existing system, much less an expanded system. WMATA has no proper oversight. MWAA has similar issues. From a legal point of view, congressional authority was only to operate the airports, but it doesn’t cover rail or to have it through Tysons Corner. The MWAA board declined to seat two members from northern Virginia. MWAA should provide evidence that they have the authority to take over the toll road to build rail, and the ratification thereof. Is there legal authority?
A – Yes.
Q – It’s being contested?
A – It has been upheld in court.
Q – Will there be tax increases to support operating costs and if so, how much?
A – At this time we cannot specifically say what the impact to operational cost will be. It’s paid in part from gas taxes to northern Virginia. There is a relatively high fare recovery with Metrorail. Fairfax County may need to subsidize a portion of operations. There are four funding sources: 75% paid by the passengers with the remaining 25% paid by the regional gas tax dedicated to Metro expenses, state aid from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit (there will be additional state aid when Phase 2 opens), and the General Fund. The county has built Metro’s operating costs in to the 10-year forecasts and has identified ways to fund service through those four sources [Note: the presentation by county staff included estimates for the Metrorail operating costs Fairfax County would be responsible for paying, which included Silver Line service].
Q – (In reference to WMATA's Nov. 3 report, Capital Needs Inventory) WMATA has concluded that they have not been putting enough money into capital improvements; brake linings were identified as a problem five years ago that was not fixed due to lack of funding. Table shows 13B is required to fix the existing plant for 2011 – 2020. Half of this is unfunded. Where is the money coming from to pay for this?
A – The capital needs outline elements that need to be done and that Metro wishes to be done. There are always more to do than there is money to do it. Metro is funding the ‘have to do’ things. There will be additional discussions about the ‘want to do’ things. Fairfax County is in the middle of a 6-year capital funding agreement with Metro. After that, a new agreement will be negotiated.
Q – Will a tax increase be required to reconstruct infrastructure around Tysons corner?
A – Not sure at this time, the Board has not taken action on this and the Planning Commission is still working on the recommendations. Infrastructure required to support the Silver Line was included in the Record of Decision and will be included in the project.
Q – Then how can the Board support a project that they don’t understand the cost of?
A – We are providing to the Board all cost information available so they can make an informed decision. Under the terms of the Funding Agreement the 100% Preliminary Engineering plans and cost estimate is what starts the 90 day review process to being.
Q – The county must have a basis to make cost forecasts. You know projected ridership, etc. When will that be made available?
A – The information was included in the environmental document has been available for several years on the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project web site [www.dullesmetro.com ].
Q – What portion is of the 6-year transportation plan is funded?
A – All of it.
Q – Is there a feasibility study that shows the projected revenues, operating costs, revenues needed, etc.
A – The information available is in the Record of Decision (ROD).
Q – From the 2004 data?
A – Yes.
Q – When WMATA and DRPT did that, Loudoun County downzoned. The population basis in 2004 is no longer applicable to the project. Also, it was based on 50% federal participation in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) ROD. Those documents are not valid. When will the amendment be made available?
A – These documents are still valid and have been approved by FTA. An amended ROD should be completed by July 2012 which will address the revised station location at Dulles International Airport.
Q – But a prudent person looking at a $7B investment would consider risk. Dr. Fuller said the area might lose many jobs due to defense cutbacks. Citizens absorb all the risk; landowners pay nothing.
A – The two special tax districts established to fund a significant portion of the rail project are paid for by a special Commercial and Industrial tax. These tax districts will provide $730M for Dulles Rail which is a significant investment, and it should be noted that a number these properties that are paying into the special tax districts are property owners.
Q – Commercial properties have been paying for some time and landowners have not. This is not a done deal – the 55% may not be the final number?
A – Percentages shown are worst-case scenario and assumes no new state and federal money enters the project in Phase 2. It also assumes the garages and the Route 28 station remain in the project. Any additional funding we get from the State for Phase 2 would help reduce the toll rates.