Sense of the Fairfax County Board on Dulles Rail
July 20, 2011
Following a presentation by FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff on a proposal for modifications to costs and cost-sharing arrangements for the Dulles Rail Project, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors held a discussion of the proposal. The Board did not take any action on the proposal. I believe, however, that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors can be supportive of the proposal as outlined by Mr. Rogoff on behalf of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood with some modifications as outlined below.
The following is my sense of the reaction by the Board to various elements of the proposal. These reactions should not be interpreted as a final position by the Board, but simply as the Chairman’s sense of issues, questions, and suggestions expressed by the Board in reaction to a significant proposal of great import to and impact on the County. All points remain open for discussion and negotiation until final action is obtained.
Comments Specific to the Proposed Additional Costs to Fairfax
- The Board members seem to accept County staff’s assessment that assuming the cost of the garages is workable and could be included in the final structure of a new cost allocation arrangement.
The Board members welcomed the offer of TIFIA assistance, but expect
that assistance to be substantial (up to one-third of all Fairfax costs
for Phase 1 and 2) and applicable to any of the Project components
funded by Fairfax;
- Only Fairfax County is being asked to assume the full cost of a station (Route 28 Station). Board members find this to be problematic. It should be recognized that the Route 28 Station will service both Fairfax and Loudoun Counties. The station pavilion on the north side will include an entrance pavilion, Kiss and Ride, and a bus transfer station that will allow Loudoun and Fairfax transit connections to the station. Furthermore, this north side entrance pavilion will connect with land owned by the State (Center for Innovative Technology) and will provide the State with significant development opportunities. Accordingly, the Board prefers that a State or Federal grant be put toward the cost of that station and that the station remain funded through the Project.
- The Board supports the principle of shared sacrifice, but is concerned that the proposed cost shifting impacts Fairfax and Loudoun Counties the greatest rather than spreading the impact in a more balanced manner among all of the funding partners.
Under the proposal presented to the Board on July 12th, the
State was not asked to contribute additional funds to provide relief to
toll road users. I understand that there is now a State
contribution of $150 million, which is a positive addition to the
proposal. The MWAA financial contribution to Phase 2, however, is
expected to actually decrease, while Fairfax County and Loudoun
County are being asked to take on additional project costs above
their original shares.
- This is not consistent with shared sacrifice and the State and MWAA should commit to additional funding.
- Fairfax’s participation should be just one element of a plan requiring participation by all parties with a substantial monetary contribution to the project costs (Federal, State, Loudoun, Fairfax and MWAA);
- All parties must have a much better understanding of the impact of Project construction costs on projected toll rates to evaluate the true effect of the proposed changes. The current presentations are contradictory and it is not clear whether shifting the cost burden and the savings from value engineering will actually result in significantly lower tolls;
- Board members want MWAA to accept the aerial alignment for the airport station or agree to fund the difference from non-toll road sources of revenue to keep the Project affordable.
- The Board appreciates USDOT's involvement in Phase 2 and would like FTA to continue an oversight role on Phase 2.
- In addition to direct aid by the State to mitigate the impact on toll rate payers, the Board would like the State to consider some form of credit support directly to the toll road financing as the most cost-effective form of aid that will directly benefit toll road users and help keep toll rates at an acceptable level.
- Rail to Dulles is Fairfax County’s number one transportation priority and the Board remains committed to completing the Project in a timely and cost-effective manner. The Board also is committed to working with our partners to address financial and Project related issues
Route 28 Station Background Notes
Per the proposal, only Fairfax County is being asked to assume all
responsibility for an entire station (Route 28 Station). However:
- This station will serve Fairfax County, Loudoun County, the Town of Herndon, and the State’s Center for Innovative Technology and surrounding State-owned property. Accordingly, the station should remain in the Project as a shared funding responsibility.
- The commitment of surrounding properties in the Phase II District to provide tax revenue for the Project explicitly includes construction of this station.
- The land areas surrounding this station have two special tax districts to fund transportation improvements. The Route 28 Tax District and the Phase 2 Tax District fund transportation improvements necessary in this corridor for airport related development. With the lack of public funds to provide for all the necessary transportation improvements and capacity limitations on the planned and existing road networks, this station will provide a significant benefit not just to Fairfax County but to Dulles Airport and the entire region.
- A failure to construct this station would have significant adverse impacts on other stations in the Project as vehicles, buses, parking requirements, and Metro riders shift to those other stations.
- Ridership projections used during the EIS for the Route 28 Station were based on a transportation model (MWCOG round 6.3 round) that did not reflect changes to the County’s Comprehensive Plan, a fact recognized in the EIS itself. The plan changes include high-intensity development at the Dulles Suburban Center in the Route 28 area. Therefore, the ridership projections certainly would be much higher if the model was to be updated to reflect actual land use changes that already have been implemented.