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Old September 9th, 2005, 01:01 AM   #1
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Washington D.C. Metro Unveils New Plan For Buses

If Metro CEO Richard White has his way, the transit company's bus service is about to get a facelift.

Board members, including D.C. City Councilman Jim Graham, have long criticized the transit system for having a bus service that takes a back seat to the rail service.

White's proposal calls for spending $829 million to improve bus service. And $600 million will be used to purchase 450 new buses, including 250 that run on natural gas, which will arrive by next spring.

Right now, the average age of a Metro bus is 11 years. White said the new buses would help bring that down to about six years.

Other improvements outlined in the plan include outfitting busier bus stops with real-time information by June 2006, letting riders know precisely what time the next bus will arrive.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 02:17 AM   #2
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cool. I wish Septa would have bought all clean air buses with their New Flyer order.
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Old April 1st, 2006, 06:40 PM   #3
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Rail Link for Washington Dulles?

House may scuttle Kaine's Dulles rail deal
By BOB LEWIS
31 March 2006

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - House Speaker William J. Howell said Friday he might scuttle Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's tentative deal to allow a Washington regional airports authority to build a rail link to Dulles International Airport.

Howell said permitting the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to use Dulles Toll Road revenues to extend Metrorail to the airport is a "multibillion-dollar road giveaway with a stroke of the governor's pen."

In an escalating rhetorical battle with the governor over conflicting statewide transportation initiatives, Howell suggested Kaine failed to consider proposals from monied private consortiums to take over the toll road and pay the state billions of dollars for it.

"This administration's actions on the mega-project are shortsighted -- almost scandalously so -- and his recklessness in dealing with this vital transportation roadway only fortifies the concerns of those of us who oppose the massive tax hikes," Howell said in a news conference.

Kaine spokesman Kevin Hall called Howell's comments "scandalously reckless language."

"The speaker says we walked away from cash on the table. We don't need cash on the table. We need transportation improvements on the ground," Hall said.

Del. David Albo, R-Fairfax, said at the news conference that companies that made proposals to take over the tollway had promised upfront payments worth billions of dollars for the rights, but Kaine ignored them.

"It's sort of like going to a car dealership and saying, `Hey, I'll pay sticker,'" Albo said.

He also said Kaine failed to build in sufficient protections for consumers from sharp toll increases.

Howell said he plans to call Kaine and his secretaries of transportation and finance before legislative panels to answer questions about his "memorandum of understanding" with the MWAA necessary to complete the transaction.

He said he will ask the General Assembly's investigative arm, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, to examine the deal. And if Kaine doesn't reconsider, he said he will ask legislators to "reserve the right to review and approve this transaction before it goes into effect."

Kaine's communications director, Delacey Skinner, said the administration studied all the proposals and determined that the MWAA would complete the transit rail link to Dulles fastest. It also best assures that tollway collections would remain in the Dulles corridor, alleviating the region's debilitating highway congestion.

Hall also produced Feb. 7 letters to the governor signed by Republican legislators, including House Appropriations Committee Chairman Vincent F. Callahan Jr., Del. Thomas D. Rust and Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, all from Fairfax County, praising the MWAA proposal.

Private proposals came from five monied consortiums that include powerful financiers, international engineering firms and some of the state's most politically connected lawyers, consultants and lobbyists.

According to proposals filed with the Virginia Department of Transportation, the five are:

--Cintra, a major international developer whose projects include 17 toll roads covering more than 1,000 miles in the United States, Spain, Portugal, Chile, Canada and Ireland.

--The Dulles Corridor Mobility Initiative, which has Citigroup Global Markets Inc. handling its financing and the Hunton & Williams law firm with offices in McLean and Richmond among its 17 worldwide.

--The Dulles Express, including Merrill Lynch handling its financing and McGuire Woods, another major national law and lobbying firm that is among the most influential in Richmond, doing "government relations and community outreach."

--Dulles Smart Link, which includes investment banker Goldman Sachs, the Fluor and Jacobs engineering firms and the Reed Smith law and lobbying firms.

--Reston-based Virginia Mobility Associates LLC, a new group organized specifically to finance a new network of express toll lanes in northern Virginia.

------

On the Web:

Private tollway proposals: http://www.vdot.virginia.gov/project...Initiative.asp
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Old June 15th, 2007, 04:38 AM   #4
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Airports Authority Signs Deal to Initiate Transit Project
7 June 2007
The Washington Post

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority signed a contract yesterday that will launch the first half of a 23-mile Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport, committing the region to a $5.1 billion transit project to be funded primarily with local taxes and tolls.

The contract calls explicitly for an above-ground segment through Tysons Corner, effectively silencing local efforts supporting a tunnel to encourage a more pedestrian-friendly, aesthetic revamping of Northern Virginia's largest business district.

The only hope left for tunnel advocates is for Fairfax County to kill the project by voting not to commit its $400 million share of the funding for the first phase. Such a vote could cause the design and bidding process to begin again. But a majority of supervisors made clear this week that a "no" vote is unlikely, given the risks of delaying the project for several more years and losing $900 million in federal funding.

"A 'yes' vote keeps hope alive," said Gerald E. Connolly (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. "A 'no' vote kills the project and the tunnel, too." Fairfax is scheduled to vote June 18.

The Dulles Metrorail extension has been called the region's top transportation priority by the airports authority and local and state leaders. Supporters say direct Metro service will not only lend prestige to the region's international airport but also take vehicles off Northern Virginia's congested highways and open its suburban business districts to more urban, transit-oriented development.

The first leg of the project, which will cost $2.7 billion, will extend Metro's Orange Line from just west of the East Falls Church stop in Arlington through Tysons Corner to Reston. The second phase will extend the line across the Loudoun County border to the airport. Work on the first phase will begin this summer with the relocation of utility lines along Route 7. The initial phase is scheduled for completion in 2013. The second phase is expected to finish by 2016.

The project has attracted plenty of criticism, notably for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's decision last year to allow the above-ground design at Tysons to move forward. The option of a tunnel was rejected as too costly, but supporters have been packing meetings and advertising on TV and radio and in newspapers to revive the idea.

Critics also questioned the decision to allow the airports authority to manage the project on behalf of the state. They accused the organization of a conflict of interest, saying its desire to quickly build a rail link to the airport might take precedence over other options. The authority also is exempt from certain public-records requirements, said critics, who pointed out that much of the contract negotiation with the private building consortium Dulles Transit Partners was done in secret.

"We remain strongly opposed to MWAA's control of this project because of their lack of accountability," said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. Schwartz has been a strong supporter of a tunnel. He also thinks the above-ground stations through Tysons are being designed without regard to the goal of encouraging ridership and building mixed-use, urban-style communities.

"What's the point of doing it if we don't do it right?" he said.

The lack of competitive bidding on the project -- allowed under Virginia law for certain transportation projects -- also has raised concerns. The Dulles Metrorail extension is the most expensive transit project in progress in the nation, costlier than the infamous Second Avenue subway line in New York City, which has been planned for more than 30 years, said William Vincent of the Breakthrough Technology Institute, a D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for cost-effective and environmentally sensitive transit.

"The Dulles line is now more expensive, but it will attract less than half the number of passengers as the Second Avenue subway," Vincent said.

And the cost is likely to rise. Officials with the airports authority say the $5.1 billion estimate includes preliminary numbers for the second phase. The extension from Reston to the airport is likely to be financed largely through higher tolls on the Dulles Toll Road. The tolls are scheduled to rise to as much as $5 by 2055 as part of the rail plan.

"We're not saying that 15 years out, that's going to be a final cost of the project," said Tara Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the authority.
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Old June 15th, 2007, 05:45 AM   #5
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Heh, Seattle people know how those tunnel vs Elevated arguments go :-D
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Old August 1st, 2007, 03:36 PM   #6
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Fed report casts doubt on viability of Dulles Rail project
27 July 2007

McLEAN, Va. (AP) - A federal report released today raises new doubts about the Dulles rail project.

The report prepared for the U-S Department of Transportation says the proposed Metrorail extension might miss out on federal funding because of delays and cost increases.

Federal Transit Administrator Jim Simpson says the F-T-A will take the report's findings and recommendations very seriously.

Officials with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which will oversee construction of the rail extension, say they're committed to working with the F-T-A to address the issues.
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Old August 1st, 2007, 03:39 PM   #7
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Connolly: Federal bias endangering Dulles rail project
31 July 2007

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) - Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald Connolly says a Bush administration bias against mass transit projects might be hindering federal approval of the proposed Metro extension to Dulles Airport.

Connolly told Washington Post reporters and editors a federal report that cast doubt on the project reflects a general bad attitude by the Bush administration toward investment in mass transit.

The Federal Transit Administration is trying to determine if the project qualifies for $900 million in federal funding. The agency is concerned about the $2.7 billion price tag for the first phase.

FTA spokesman Wes Irvin says there have been significant increases in transit spending since the end of the Clinton administration.

Connolly says it's difficult to know how the agency will come down. But he doesn't believe there's a logical reason why it wouldn't approve the project.
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Old August 23rd, 2007, 01:29 PM   #8
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Report says Virginia must reduce cost of Dulles rail project
21 August 2007

McLEAN, Va. (AP) - Virginia must shave $250 million from the cost of Metrorail's planned extension to Dulles International Airport to meet Federal Transit Administration cost-efficiency guidelines, according to a report.

The report warns Virginia transportation officials that the first phase of the Dulles rail service is over budget and will take about 15 months longer than expected to complete. The assessment shows the first phase will now cost $2.83 billion -- the highest cost estimate yet -- and the full project's cost is $1 billion higher than it was two years ago.

"They need a more realistic price tag and a more realistic schedule," FTA spokesman Wes Irvin said. "The schedule is driving up the cost."

The project must comply with FTA standards to receive $900 million in federal funds that are critical for state and local leaders to build the rail line. All agree the project would die without the federal money.

State officials said they are certain they can trim the project's budget and schedule.

"This report gives us a clear sense of the size and scope of changes to the project that we need to make," said Pierce R. Homer, Virginia's transportation secretary. "We're very confident that we can make changes that will meet FTA approval."

But the necessary cuts might be difficult. Officials with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is managing the project for Virginia, must find ways to reduce costs while avoiding cuts that would reduce ridership, such as eliminating a station, because that could affect the FTA's cost-efficiency figures.

Project managers also must avoid changes that rail supporters would protest, such as eliminating extra elevators for accessibility, architectural features or pedestrian walkways. Business owners in Tysons Corner objected to $200 million in such cuts the state proposed two years ago.

Homer said project managers likely would look at cutting a parking garage in Reston that developers could pay for instead, improvements to Route 7 that the state could fund separately and a rail car storage building.

Any cost reductions would have to be approved by the federal government, Irvin said.

Officials already turned away from an idea to tunnel the line through Tysons Corner, the nation's 12th-largest business district, citing uncertainty over the cost. Business leaders who wanted a tunnel to remake Tysons into a more walkable downtown are eager for the project to move forward. They said the report confirms their position that a tunnel would be nice but not affordable.

"The federal government is not willing to fund it," said James C. Dinegar, president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

Homer said he hopes construction could begin next year. The first phase of the 23-mile rail line is expected to be completed in 2012, and the second phase extending beyond the airport into Loudoun County could be done by 2015.
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Old August 29th, 2007, 06:52 PM   #9
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Debate over who's to blame for Dulles rail delays
29 August 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) - There are many opinions about who's to blame for delays that have threatened federal funding for the proposed extension of Metrorail to Dulles Airport.

The Federal Transit Administration has ordered authorities to trim about $275 million from the first leg's budget to qualify for $900 million in federal funding.

Nearly a dozen entities have played critical roles over the years, including Tysons Corner landowners, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Metro and Congress. There has also been a lengthy debate over whether part of the project should run in a tunnel under Tysons. Meanwhile, project costs soared.

Many involved are pointing to the Federal Transit Administration for imposing its own time-consuming requirements.

The project's no-bid contract with a consortium called Dulles Transit Partners is also being blamed.
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Old August 30th, 2007, 01:32 AM   #10
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Oh great, more of those anti-mass transit nuts.
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Old August 30th, 2007, 02:44 AM   #11
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If the federal government would apportion more funding to mass transit in relation to highways (I think it's a 1:400 ratio in billions of dollars) we wouldn't be in this mess, AND we would have a tunnel running through Tyson's Corner the whole way. It's ridiculous. Ideally it would be 50:50, but I would willing to settle for having mass transit getting at least a quarter of total federal funding.
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Old August 30th, 2007, 06:00 AM   #12
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I've been hearing about aging infrastructure on the DC Metro lately following the power outage. I wonder whether this link will come at the cost of upgrades to the system?
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Old August 30th, 2007, 09:38 PM   #13
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I don't understand why many airports in the U.S. lack rail links to their airports. They must want the money that they get from $9.00/day parking lot fees.
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Old September 2nd, 2007, 06:32 AM   #14
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A couple of them do, albeit not dedicated airport rail links, but that's OK. Here are some off the top of my head and from my travels.

New York - JFK, Newark
San Francisco
Chicago - Midway, O'Hare
Boston
BWI

But then, can't really compare to Europe at all!
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Old September 2nd, 2007, 11:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
A couple of them do, albeit not dedicated airport rail links, but that's OK. Here are some off the top of my head and from my travels.

New York - JFK, Newark
San Francisco
Chicago - Midway, O'Hare
Boston
BWI

But then, can't really compare to Europe at all!
Dont forget Reagan National, and soon to be Seattle and Vancouver as well
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Old September 14th, 2007, 03:21 PM   #16
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Kaine outlines cuts for Dulles rail project
13 September 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) - Virginia Governor Tim Kaine has proposed more than $300 million in budget cuts to keep the first phase of the Dulles rail project in line for federal funding.

Federal officials told the state last month to shave $250 million from the cost of the project. It must meet federal cost-efficiency requirements to qualify for $900 million. Project officials say the federal money is critical if the line is to be built.

The proposed cuts lower the cost of the rail line from about $2.8 billion to $2.5 billion. They include different funding for road improvements to Route 7 and parking garage in Reston, Smaller station canopies and concrete platforms instead of expensive tile paving.
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Old September 14th, 2007, 07:55 PM   #17
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The new metro will link Tysons Corner, Reston, Herndon, and of course DC and Dulles which will end in front of Washington Dulles International Airport. It will be one of the biggest project in the area.

Here is the official website of the project:

http://www.dullesmetro.com/
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Old September 14th, 2007, 08:00 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FM 2258 View Post
I don't understand why many airports in the U.S. lack rail links to their airports. They must want the money that they get from $9.00/day parking lot fees.
Washington Dulles Int'l Airport is far away from DC. When it was built, there was nothing in the area except farms and few residential areas. The boom of the US Economy on 80s and 90s leads to the construction of many companies near the airport (even now). Due to the demand of many DC residents and the growing traffic in the area, they have no choice but to build this before its too late.
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Old September 14th, 2007, 08:19 PM   #19
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$300 Million Cut in Dulles Rail Project Is Proposed
Bipartisan Effort Seeks to Ensure Line Meets Federal Cost Guidelines, Gets Funding Needed for Completion

By Amy Gardner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 14, 2007; Page B01


Top Virginia politicians from both parties joined forces on Capitol Hill yesterday to propose cutting more than $300 million from the planned Metro line to Dulles International Airport to meet cost guidelines and thus pressure the Federal Transit Administration to approve the project.

Flanked by prominent Virginia politicians, including U.S. Sen. John W. Warner (R) and Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R), Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) sent a powerful message to the agency, which the project is counting on for $900 million. In several recent critical reports, the FTA has warned that the project is gravely overbudget and risks not qualifying for the federal money, without which the $5.1 billion project will fail.

"The good-faith challenge was: 'You're close, but you've got to take some costs out of this project,' " Kaine said. "And we took them up on that challenge."

Added Warner: "This must move forward, and we're confident that they will treat this fairly and objectively and in accordance with the law."

Although intended as a celebration of the state's efforts to trim costs, the announcement didn't go entirely as planned. Two Northern Virginia congressmen, Thomas M. Davis III (R) and James P. Moran Jr. (D), did not attend. And a small contingent of protesters confronted the governor over his decision to stick with an aboveground design through Tysons Corner despite broad public support for a tunnel.

Kaine opted for the aboveground rail line after four months of study showing, he said, that pursuing a tunnel could cost too much, take too long and jeopardize federal funding. The most ardent tunnel advocates disagreed.

"That's going to be a monstrosity," said Joe Nocerino of Vienna, wearing an "Under Not Over" button and a TysonsTunnel.org T-shirt. "It's really going to be a blight."

But Kaine and others said the 23-mile Silver Line, which will stretch from Falls Church through Tysons to the airport and Loudoun County, is too important to the region's economy to jeopardize by pursuing the potentially expensive and time-consuming construction of a tunnel.

Wolf said, "If we miss this opportunity, it will be a long, long time before we'll ever get it again."

That was not enough for some in the audience, who pointedly questioned Kaine, interrupted him and tried to shout him down, saying the tunnel option has not been sufficiently explored.

William T. Coleman Jr., a former U.S. secretary of transportation, was among those who confronted Kaine. Coleman described himself as a passionate supporter of the tunnel. He is also a lawyer whose clients include WestGroup, a prominent Tysons developer with plans for property along the Metro line. WestGroup has been the primary financial backer of TysonsTunnel.org.

"In this case, you're making the biggest mistake you've made so far in your career," Coleman said.

"Absolutely," shouted another man.

Kaine became angry at one point, telling a tunnel speaker: "Do not interrupt me." But he took a more conciliatory tone later, saying: "We have to make a call, and the call has to be made with a goal in mind. And the goal is this: This is an airport that should have been served by rail when it was built. To come back later now to do it -- I wish we didn't have to. But by gosh, we need to if we're going to have a quality of life that is worthwhile in this region."

Kaine outlined proposed cuts that would reduce the $2.8 billion cost of the first phase to $2.5 billion -- well within the transportation agency's cost-efficiency requirements, which the project must meet to qualify for the federal funding. Without the federal money, the project will not go forward.

Few of the cuts would have a direct impact on service for riders. They include eliminating $77 million in road improvements to Route 7 in Tysons Corner that can be paid for with separate state money; cutting a parking garage in Reston and building it through a public-private partnership instead; building smaller canopies at stations; and laying concrete platforms instead of expensive tile pavers.

Transit agency spokesman Wes Irvin said that officials can't comment on a proposal that they won't see until today but that "we look forward to reviewing their proposal."

But another prominent official, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors member T. Dana Kauffman (D-Lee), who sits on the Metro board, questioned the accuracy of the savings that Kaine presented, particularly the Route 7 improvements.

"It's a zero-sum game," he said. "The only way Route 7 gets done is if some other project doesn't."

Rail to Dulles has been planned since the early 1960s, when the airport opened. More recently, the project has faced cost overruns and controversy over the tunnel.

"It is the single most important transportation investment that the entire metropolitan region can make," said Gerald E. Connolly (D), chairman of the Fairfax board. "The Dulles corridor is the single most important economic and employment corridor in the region except for the core itself. And it's getting more so every day."
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Old September 14th, 2007, 08:30 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
A couple of them do, albeit not dedicated airport rail links, but that's OK. Here are some off the top of my head and from my travels.

New York - JFK, Newark
San Francisco
Chicago - Midway, O'Hare
Boston
BWI

But then, can't really compare to Europe at all!
MARTA's Airport Station is located in the main terminal at Hartsfield in Atlanta.
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