Speaking of the Rail-to-Dulles fiasco… Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli reiterated his opposition to the Metrorail expansion last week and predicted that the General Assembly would spurn a McDonnell administration request for an extra $150 million state contribution needed to refinance Phase 2 of the controversial project.
“I would oppose putting a single penny of state dollars to bail out Phase 2,” he said, according to the Washington Times. “I hope that legislators will not agree to spend the $150 million.”
A General Assembly refusal to kick in the $150 million would collapse a fragile deal brokered by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to cut costs and otherwise limit exposure to users of the Dulles Toll Road. The original financing deal called for contributions from Fairfax County, Loudoun County and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, with the balance to be paid by revenues from Dulles Toll Road. But as estimated costs ballooned from $2.8 billion to $3.8 billion, creating the prospect of $20 tolls within a couple of decades, political resistance flared in Fairfax and Loudoun.
Cuccinelli raised the prospect that the Loudoun Board of Supervisors, which has approved the LaHood deal, could reverse its position if the newly elected board reconsiders the issue. He also said that the $150 million contribution would be a hard sell in a General Assembly looking for ways to close a $1 billion budget gap. “If I had to predict, I’d bet against.”
Given Cuccinelli’s popularity among conservative Republicans, these comments won’t make it any easier for McDonnell to squeeze the money out of the General Assembly. It may be time to dust of those Bus Rapid Transit plans!
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