This post has been updated.

Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) stressed the importance of transportation and infrastructure in an address at a transportation conference Wednesday. 

McDonnell, calling transportation “an important quality-of-life issue,” was speaking on the first day of the three-day Governor’s Transportation Conference in Tysons. Hundreds of transportation officials, legislators and members of the business community gathered for the event, taking place mere feet from roadwork and Silver Line construction. 

In his remarks, McDonnell discussed the troubled board of the Metropolitan Washington  Airports Authority. This agency, which is responsible for construction of the $5.6 billion Metrorail extension, was pilloried in a recent report for ethical lapses and missteps.

McDonnell said that when he took office, the agency was “neither responsive nor responsible.” But he says that in working with Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood, they have been able to bring needed reforms. 

Now, with CEO Jack Potter and new board members, McDonnell said it is a better organization with better practices. “It’s a very good board” now, he said. 

McDonnell also praises public-private partnerships, citing the opening of the 495 Express  Lanes last month as a prime example. He said such deals are vital going forward for the state as it grapples with declining revenues and increasing needs. 

[UpdateThis post originally said the Dulles Metrorail extension costs $7 billion. The project actually costs $5.6 billion.]