Fairfax City representatives told a federal judge yesterday that its $2 million contribution to build the regional Metrorail system should be returned with interest because the Metro station closest to Fairfax has been deleted from an interim construction plan.
"We have had the benefit we contracted for taken from us," Fairfax City Attorney John Rust said in asking for the return of the money. He asked that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) and the other partners in the system (every other major area jurisdiction) be declared "jointly and severally" liable for the $2 million.
Rust's request came during a day-long trial in U.S. District Court in Alexandria before Judge Oren R. Lewis. In February, Lewis ruled that Metro breached its agreement with Fairfax City when the other Metro partners excluded Fairfax City from voting on an interim plan that guaranteed construction of only 60 of Metro's planned 100 miles.
Lewis than gave Metro 60 days to agree to build the subway to Vienna, which would be convenient for Fairfax, instead of curtail;ng the Vienna line at Glebe Road in Arlington.
Yesterday, with the 60 days up; Metro attorneys said they have every intention of completing the Vienna line. However, they said, they are out of money, and further, could not guarantee a Vienna station until after the region's governments have completed a federally mandated study of possible alternatives to several Metro routes, including the one to Vienna. Decisions from that study won't be made for more than a year, Metro attorney William Horkan said.
Lewis refused to accept any further delay. "I've given Metro every chance to make (construction of the Vienna line) binding upon themselves. I can't buy the argument that they may in the future do something," he said.
Attorneys spent the rest of the day arguing how much benefit might accurue to Fairfax because of a less accessible Glebe Road station instead of a Vienna station. The Fairfax City representatives said the town would derive no benefits from the Glebe Road Station, and therefore all of its money should be returned. Alexandria City Attorney Cyril D. Calley suggested that Fairfax had bought access to a 96-mile system, but was getting a 60-mile system instead, so should be assessed for 60-98th of its contribution, with the rest refunded.
The money, however, has already been spent ,so attorneys also debated the question of who would pay Fairfax City - Metro or the seven other cities and countries that make it up.
Lewis took the matter under advisement. Whatever he decides is certain to be appealed, attorneys agreed.