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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 02:05 PM ET, 01/04/2012

Airports Authority awaits new board members


Workers make their way through a tunnel under the Tysons Corner area of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project in Virginia, on Sept. 28, 2011. (Nikki Kahn - The Washington Post)
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board said Wednesday it is waiting on the District and Virginia to pass legislation before it can accept the appointees of Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) had pushed for legislation that increased the size of the MWAA board from 13 to 17, giving Virginia two additional seats and the District and Maryland one each.

Wolf has long been concerned about oversight and transparency of MWAA, which is in charge of overseeing Reagan National and Dulles International airports, plus the construction of the 23 miles of new Metrorail track to Dulles and Loudoun County.

In the fall, McDonnell appointed two Northern Virginia residents to the MWAA board. They have yet to be officially seated on the board because lawyers hired by MWAA said seating them required a change in its compact. A change in MWAA’s compact requires approval from the District’s City Council and Virginia’s legislature.

MWAA’s new board chairman Michael Curto said at its first board meeting of the year that the board is working to amend its bylaws to reflect the recent legislation changes and is considering “enhanced transparency.”

MWAA is overseeing the construction of the Dulles rail project. The first phase is under construction and is expected to open in late 2013. It will run from Falls Church through Tysons Corner to Reston. Preliminary engineering is underway for phase 2, which will run to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County.

Last week, McDonnell signed a memorandum of agreement on the second phase of funding for phase 2 of the Dulles rail, but he had some conditions and concerns about the project labor agreement.

MWAA has said the agreement would not violate Virginia’s right-to-work laws.

Jack Potter, MWAA’s CEO, said he and Curto would meet with officials in Richmond to discuss the details of the deal.

Asked by MWAA board member Bob Brown if the state was fully committed to giving the project the promised $150 million, Potter answered, “In my view, yes, but I want to clarify that.”

Mame Reiley, the chair of the Dulles Rail committee, reported that as of October, $1.85 billion had been spent of the $2.75 billion allocated for the first phase of the project. She said increased project costs were the result of “changes in the standards for transit safety, weather and utility relocation.”

Of the $285 million in a contingency fund, $54.1 million is left, she said.

Curto said he would “not participate” in any of the contract talks on phase 2 of Dulles rail project because his law firm, Patton Boggs, “may be retained” by one of the potential bidders on the deal.

MWAA’s board also reduced its meetings and changed its meeting times.

Instead of having two meetings a month, it will hold one meeting a month. Its monthly meeting will be on the third Wednesday of each month instead of the first Wednesday of the month. It will hold board committee meetings on the third Wednesday as well.

The board spent more than two hours in executive session discussing its audit and requests for information it sent out to inquire about how to finance phase 2 of Dulles rail.

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By  |  02:05 PM ET, 01/04/2012

 
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