Silver Line Presentation Comments, March 14

Last update: March 16, 1 p.m.

Dulles Rail, Phase 2 and Silver Line station name comments, questions, and answers from the public meeting presentation.

Agency Acronyms
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

Herndon Meeting
Hutchison Elementary School
March 14, 2012

# City Comment
1 Herndon

My concern is the way MWAA is looking at the Dulles Toll Road as an ATM for over 50% of Phase 2. I would like to see MWAA “share the hurt” with some of their other available revenue sources. Such as the huge amount of parking at Dulles Airport. Currently, drivers from DC can drive to Dulles for free on the access road, but they pay for parking at the airport. Putting a surcharge on that parking would be easy to do, easy to collect, and would lesson some of the dependence on the Toll Road. I would like to see Fairfax County demand some answers from MWAA on why they are looking only at the Toll Road.

Note: Some questions and answers were summarized for better understanding of the discussion.

Q – Will the March 20 public hearing start at 5 p.m., or at the beginning of the Board of Supervisors’ meeting?
A – 5 p.m. The hearing cannot start earlier than 5 p.m.

Q – Parking garages and capacities – Herndon-Monroe parking garage exists now and has ramps off the toll road, so it’s not just local. It would serve folks from the west. Route 28 station will not be available from the toll road, nor from Route 28. Need to get off at Innovation Avenue or Fox Mill. It doesn’t make sense to have large parking garage where it can’t be easily accessed. People in Herndon can’t get to Route 28 parking garage without going into Loudoun first. So the Route 28 parking garage is really for Loudoun commuters.
A – There are 1,500 existing spaces at Herndon-Monroe today and the project is adding 2,000 more at Herndon-Monroe. Route 28 is not as developed as Herndon-Monroe, therefore we anticipate Herndon-Monroe will attract more people because of its location and additional parking.

Q – Parking garages – it’s possible that the garages would be public-private partnerships. More information?
A – At Wiehle Avenue, under the public-private partnership we will get rent at that location as part of the agreement we reached on the garage. At Route 28 and Herndon-Monroe, the county like at Wiehle owns the land the garages will be contructed on, therefore we could build the garages on our own or through a public-private partnership and use the revenue of parking fees to offset the construction as well as operation and maintenance costs.

Q – (Comment) Do not privatize any more of our infrastructure. Look at Chicago – nobody goes downtown anymore.
A – If the garages are built as part of the project and not by Fairfax County, WMATA would own and operate the garages. If the county constructs the garages we would retain ownership, at this time the county has no plans currently in place to privatize the garages. If it is built with the project, the facilities will be WMATA facilities. If Fairfax County constructs them, they’ll be county facilities.

Q – Herndon has lots of through traffic including from West Virginia. People drive on routes 606 or 28 to avoid paying Greenway fares. We need lots of the west to eastbound traffic to stop in Loudoun County so there isn’t so much demand at Herndon.
A –Three garages are planned in Loudoun County that should help divert some of that parking demand outside of the Town of Herndon.

Q – Resident representing the Reston Citizens Association:  2nd column, slide 20 shows 18% decrease in transactions – that’s 34,000 cars diverted to local roads next year. 
A – MWAA is still working on a Final Toll and Revenue Study. We understand that higher tolls would result in some drivers deciding not to take the toll road. It is anticipated that some of the drivers would convert to transit trips but we understand your concerns. The NEPA document does require for some transportation improvements related to the rail project which should help with some of the traffic concerns.

Q – Is there any thought from MWAA to having a surcharge on the parking at Dulles Airport to help pay for the project?
A – Fairfax County cannot speak for MWAA, but we have had discussion with MWAA on alternative ways to fund the project and will make MWAA aware of your comments. I should also mention if the State does provide some funding for the project it does provide a positive impact to the toll road rates.

Q – What was the funding for Huntington, Franconia-Springfield, and Vienna in Virginia?  How did those other stations get funded? Why is it funded on the backs of toll road users? Has the county considered taxing everyone in the county? This is evil and people are angry. There are more unintended consequences from this plan. How in good conscience can you pick a tiny demographic and burden them with 55%? Our kids won’t be able to afford them. Will anyone want to live in this area?
A – The rest of the Metrorail system was funded by a variety of mechanisms. Federal, local, state funds. Each different jurisdiction had different ways than other ones. The entire system was funded differently depending on jurisdiction. The Commercial & Industrial tax is charged countywide, and the county is looking for federal and state grants, TIFIA, as well as “Other.” This could include countywide sources. Number of different options—money from state, $150 million that the Governor has pledged, as well as a bill with state funding going up to $500 million.

Q – Has any other leg of the system been funded by a small group of users like the toll road users? 
A – Correct – no other section has been funded by toll money.

Q – Has the county considered taxing all county residents to help pay for this, rather than just the toll road users? There will be many unintended consequences from this plan. This plan unloads over 50% of the cost to a small group of users. People won’t want to move to an area where it’s so expensive to commute.
A – There are other sources of funding that will be used to pay the county’s share. We are also looking for federal and state grants to offset this cost.

Q – Get it down to 25%.
A – (Bulova) I am concerned about the level of tolls also – we are looking for ways to buy down the tolls for those toll road users. $150 million pledged by the state. There is also a bill that could raise that to $500 million. Will look for every way we can. We don’t want to kill the project by making the tolls too high.

Q – All the deviated traffic – What if you get 25K – 30K extra cars on the roads and there is no plan in place to deal with that? 
A- We understand your concerns, the rail system should take cars off the roads but we also understand that toll rates also impact what may happen with drivers taking alternative routes. Once we know the status of the State funding for Phase 2 and have a toll rate schedule we should have a better understanding of the potential impacts.

Q (Comment) – We have ideas about alternative funding and would like to meet to discuss.

Q – Breakdown of money for the project – federal money is all Phase 1 money – there is no federal money for Phase 2.
A – This project has to be treated as a single project for phases 1 and 2; 16.1% is the total for both phases. All percentages are for the total project – both phases. Loudoun doesn’t pay anything until Phase 2, but they will pay 4.8% of the total for Phases 1 and 2. The county’s percent has been 16.1% all along.

Q (Comment) – (Foust) If County doesn’t participate in Phase 2, the county would not get the three stations. MWAA would construct the project to the airport without the Fairfax stations.

Q (Comment) – MWAA is going to sell bonds – Fairfax will have no stations – who’s on the hook for that?  MWAA said it’s the bondholders. Lots of ethical decisions to make on the wisdom of the funding. Public needs to participate in development of funding solutions. My appreciation for Metro is extreme; the funding plan is the issue. 

Q – Today, Loudoun said there is insufficient support to stay in the project. What would be the impact if Loudoun opts out?
A – Current agreement assumes Loudoun is in. If they drop out, need to revisit all agreements and funding arrangements, including the Loudoun share of Phase 1. Would need to redo the environmental documents and the preliminary engineering. It would be significant.

Q – Is there a contingency plan if Loudoun drops out?
A – The current plan assumes Loudoun is in. If Loudoun doesn’t participate, the remaining funding partners would need to renegotiate everything. Even the phase 2 tax district won’t exist if Loudoun drops out.

Q – You must have done a contingency plan.
A – The funding agreement doesn’t address if Loudoun drops out. If Loudoun doesn’t participate, we have to renegotiate everything with everyone.We don’t have a Phase 2 tax district if Loudoun drops out. Our primary funding source drops out if Loudoun bails.

Q (Comment) – Future real costs – next year will cost an extra $1,000; in 5 years $1,500; in 10 years, $2,000. Who wants to pay an extra $2,000 to use the toll road in the future? It’s an imposition on people who want to use the toll road.

Q – On Route 28 garage, if county can’t find alternate funds, it reverts to the project. 
A – County will use best efforts to secure alternative funding. If through our best efforts we cannot fund this outside of the project it would remain in the project and the costs shared per the funding agreement formula.

Q – Is there a way to know when we have failed to secure alternate funding for the garages?
A – The county is looking at alternatives the garages outside of the project. At this time until we have an agreed upon project from all the funding partners our work right now remains in the early stages. We have had interests at both parking garage locations by private entities. Depending on the timing we estimate by mid-2013 if we don’t have deal that we think we can secure we would work with MWAA to have the garages go out to bid as part of the project.

Q – Tax districts; what’s the test for the numbers? 
A – Petitioners set a cap of $400M. The Phase 1 tax district has been highly successful – generated $100 million in cash from the taxes collected and bonded over $200 million. The rest will be met next year. The Phase 2 tax district cap is $330 million and was negotiated in the middle of a recession. We took the rate up in stages, 15 cents this year, 20 cents next year. We are confident with current interest rates, past districts, and experience that this will work.

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