In Views on Dulles Rail
I am pleased that Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) showed his true colors in justifying the recent 67 percent increase in Dulles Toll Road tolls to finance the $1.5 billion extension of Metrorail to Wiehle Avenue in Reston ["Point for Point, County Needs Metro Extension," Fairfax Extra, June 2]. This is counter to what he is telling our members in e-mail messages, writing: "The State has chosen to fund its share of the project through higher tolls . . . and I share your dissatisfaction with this approach."
Mr. Connolly then says there will be only one more toll increase to finance the remainder of rail to Dulles, which would cost an extra $2.7 billion in tax dollars. How incorrect! According to the draft environmental impact statement, the project team said a 25 cent toll increase "every three years through 2015 would generate over $725 million in funding that could be available for the Dulles corridor rapid transit project. These projected toll increases would make the tolls for the Dulles Toll Road comparable to the rates currently charged on the Dulles Greenway."
Mr. Connolly also says Dulles rail "was never predicated on eliminating congestion" and that "no one ever argued that Metrorail costs less to construct than a mile of freeway lane."
This is patently false. For years, Mr. Connolly, Gov. Mark R. Warner (D), Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) and other politicians have touted Dulles rail as a means to alleviate congestion.
As recently as June 2004, Mr. Connolly wrote that Dulles rail would "take 86,000 people off the roads" each day. In his June 2 piece, he wrote: "Without rail, an additional 91,000 people would be experiencing congestion in their cars."
In addition, Gov. Warner in July 2004 told a Tysons gathering: "We're moving out of the gate on this long-awaited and much-needed congestion relief for the region's commuters."
If these aren't implied promises of congestion relief, then what is?
Mr. Connolly also contends rail would not be 10 times more costly to build than a bus rapid transit system. Again, the cost of rail to Dulles is estimated at $4.2 billion, including $700 million in financing. The most expensive bus rapid transit system compared in the environmental study was $481 million. Hence, bus rapid transit is 10 times cheaper.
In his Fairfax Extra letter, the chairman was right that I got the numbers wrong on the subsidy for Wiehle rail.
However, according to the October 2002 draft environmental impact statement hearing report, for the full rail extension to Loudoun County in 2025, "The annual operating assistance is estimated at $111.1 million, of which Fairfax County's estimated contribution is $38.5 million."
But Dulles rail will end up with fewer riders than expected if history is any guide.
In the 1970s, Metro projected 1.3 million trips a day by 1990; the number was actually about 500,000. Each year, D.C., Maryland and Virginia subsidize Metro to the tune of $400 million in tax dollars. Mr. Connolly contends the D.C. area's "experience with Metro has uniformly been extremely positive in terms of economic returns for dollars invested in rail."
If anything, Metro has saddled us with billions in repairs and operating costs because officials have deferred maintenance in order to pay inflated wages to their unions. The Metro Matters campaign seeks to suck billions from us to keep the existing system afloat -- potentially through an increase in the sales tax -- and this is a system that provides for only 15 percent of commuter trips each day.
We also disagree on the true amount of use that Wiehle rail will get. The chairman says it will attract 62,800 daily trips in 2011, but I used the figure of 24,000 boardings. Again, whether we use "trips" or "boardings," the projections for Dulles rail, as with all rail proposals, are high-balled.
We also believe the 2002 study of rail vs. bus rapid transit was deliberately biased to show rail could attract more passengers than the bus proposals.
How interesting that the chairman's letter does not acknowledge the development impacts of Dulles rail. Because the line is funded about 25 percent by developers so they can get rezonings for higher-density development, rail could bring 100,000 more residents to Tysons Corner. If you don't think these new dwellers will be using cars and adding to the traffic mess on Leesburg Pike (Route 7), then you are quite mistaken.
For this reason alone, Fairfax residents must wake up and stop this "Great Train Robbery."
Reston and Leesburg
Banning Machete Sales
Won't Stop Gang Violence
I am writing in regard to the June 3 Metro story, "MS-13 Suspected in Attack; Youths With Machetes Wound Teenager in Springfield."
These types of attacks are becoming all too common in Fairfax, and I applaud your paper's efforts to report on them. I was appalled by the response of Supervisor T. Dana Kauffman (D-Lee), who proposed that the county lobby state legislators for restrictions on machete sales. "I find it abhorrent that you can buy a machete at a shopping mall," Kauffman said.
Does Supervisor Kauffman really believe that banning machete sales is a solution to the problem of violent crime by street gangs? No wonder the gang problem in Fairfax is growing.
We, the citizens of Fairfax, need to start forcing our representatives to take a machete to property taxes and empower the police to clear our neighborhoods of MS-13 and other street thugs.