Letter to the Editor

A thumbs down for the Silver Line

The June 10 editorial “Dulles rail awaits a thumbs up” asserted that opponents of Metrorail’s Silver Line extension to Dulles International Airport have been encouraged by right-wing groups with “scant knowledge of Loudoun County and no stake in its future.” As a Loudoun County resident, I take exception to that description.

The county’s own studies indicate that Loudoun could enjoy equal, if not higher, revenue growth by simply opting out of the project. If Loudoun opts in, it can expect to lose at least $713 million over 25 years. By opting out, the windfall to Loudoun is projected to be $600 million over the same period. Does Loudoun really need to spend $713 million when it will benefit simply by opting out?

More important, the current funding arrangement for the Silver Line proposes to cover more than half of Phase 2’s costs with money from Dulles Toll Road commuters. Accordingly, toll rates on the road are expected to jump from $2.25 to $6.75 by 2018. The latest estimates find that 25,000 cars per workday will likely stop using the toll road, while only 10,000 Loudoun riders are expected to use the Silver Line in its first year. This means more congestion on local roads, as noted by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s own studies.

I’m disappointed that the editorial implied in its conclusion that groups opposed to transportation projects such as the Metrorail extension make this country “hidebound, parochial and stuck in old ways.” So much for a reasonable discussion of an important and nuanced issue.

Tim Phillips, Leesburg

The writer is president of Americans for Prosperity.

 
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