The Washington Post

Va. transportation panel passes legal test

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority passed a significant legal milestone Tuesday, when a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge ruled against a legal challenge by one of its most persistent critics, Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William).

Chief Judge Dennis J. Smith ruled for the authority in a so-called bond validation suit, in which the body essentially sues itself to force the hand of potential legal opponents. Marshall launched his challenge in August, saying the authority had violated the law. He also challenged its constitutionality.

Following an earlier challenge by Marshall, the Virginia Supreme Court in 2008 ruled against the Authority, saying it did not have the power to tax. But since then, the General Assembly voted to raise state taxes for use by the authority.

Authority chairman Marty Nohe said the latest decision clears the way for the body to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on roads and transit improvements. “We’re looking forward to moving past this legal process and being able to focus all our energy into relieving congestion in the region,” Nohe said.

Marshall said he would consult with legal counsel before deciding whether an appeal should be filed. “In 2007, we lost at the Circuit Court, but we won in Richmond at the Supreme Court,” Marshall said.

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