Cuccinelli: Not a Single Penny for Phase 2

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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13 responses to “Cuccinelli: Not a Single Penny for Phase 2”

  1. oh oh. I predict some rough words coming from Great Falls!

    and I can hear the debate in the GA right now…” $150 million for the METRO boondoggle when we have no money for roads?”

  2. The problem with Cuccinelli is that he has no alternate ideas.

    Northern Virginia is perpetually rated as one of the worst traffic snafus in America. Why? Because the Clown Show in Richmond has failed to fund transportation. Between the increasing miles per gallon and the inflation in road construction costs, the gas tax today buys about 41 cents on the dollar it bought when it was frozen in 1986.

    You could double the gas tax and it still wouldn’t have kept up with inflation since it was frozen in 1986.

    Bob McDonnell is a national caliber politician. Ken Cuccinelli is not. One brings answers to problems, the other only complaints.

    The Republiclowns in Virginia better open their eyes. The anti-Democratic fervor of 2009 was very muted in 2011. 2013 might be a very different game with the national economy on the mend and the state economy on the brink. It could be a very difficult time to be yet another long running representative of the Party of No.

  3. The high cost of Dulles Rail, when coupled with its small benefits, will hurt business in the Dulles Corridor between Tysons and Eastern Loudoun County. This is a spur line that does not serve large parts of Fairfax County. Moreover, it is being connected to a system that lacks capacity for expansion. Having said this, the rail project needs to be completed. Stopping at Wiehle Avenue does not make much sense. We are simply too far down the path to stop. Dulles Rail should be built at least to the Airport.
    Major effort needs to be placed on making Tysons work. That involves the construction of quality mixed-use construction at the four rail stations; the imposition of almost draconian TDM measures; and the completion of the road projects set forth in Table 7 to the Comp Plan.

  4. The difference between TMT and Ken Cuccinelli is that TMT knows we need to move forward but questions whether the present plan is adequate. Cuccinelli is just popping off in an effort to curry favor with the conservatives in Virginia for the Republican primary. Cuccinelli is immature as a politician. He is already running for governor while still the sitting Attorney General. This was the same thing that the GOP pilloried Tim Kaine for doing at the end of his tenure as governor. Now, the Cooch is off on a tangent spouting opinions on this and that. He reminds me of Rick Perry. A legend in his own mind.

  5. to put some context…. Metro to Dulles would cost more than twice as much as adding a 3rd rail for high speed rail between Richmond and Washington.
    ( acknowledging the typical “gap” between estimate and reality when it comes to any passenger rail).

    how can Virginia say that we cannot afford that connection between Richmond and Washington but we can between Fairfax and Dulles?

  6. How much money has “the Commonwealth” actually paid for Rail to Dulles to date?

    A certain state senator seems to think that number is ZERO.

    Is he right?

  7. LarryG:

    Your reference seems to confirm what Chap Petersen wrote. To wit …

    “Phase 1 to Wiehle Avenue is estimated to cost $2.6 billion. Funding will come from toll revenues generated by the Dulles Toll Road (click here for more information), from commercial properties owners who have formed a special tax district in Tysons Corner and from the federal government.”.

    Since Phase 1 is the only phase being built, it sure sounds like ZERO from the Commonwealth to me.

  8. ” In addition, the Virginia Transportation Act of 2000 dedicated $75 million to the project.”

    Commonwealth of VA
    VA Transportation Act
    State Bonds
    STP Funding

  9. I had not heard this before: ” The $150m is wanted as a subsidy to toll revenue bond debt service which the Toll Road revenues may not be able to cover.

    If true … I think McDonnell has some “plaining” to do….

  10. The Commonwealth did contribute $50 M to Phase I of Dulles Rail. The rest of the Commonwealth’s share came from higher tolls on DTR drivers. That is absurd. But where were the local officials from Fairfax County? Nodding their heads in agreement. NoVA residents were sold out one more time by their local elected officials.

  11. constructionandlaborguy Avatar

    The Commonwealth is giving $275 million to the entire Silver Line project. I don’t know if they have already cut a check for some or all of that. And as LarryG indicated, they recently committed to an additional $150 million as part of the LaHood plan/MOA signed with MWAA Nov. 16.

  12. constructionandlaborguy Avatar

    Here is the original funding agreement:

    Here is the recent MOA that brought the Phase 2 cost from $3.8 billion to $2.8 billion (this is basically an estimate until preliminary engineering comes out):

    Remember that the original budget for Phase 2 was $2.5 billion before MWAA went on their spending spree and also pushed for a below ground metro station at Dulles. The reduced costs are primarily from shifting some of the Phase 2 parking garages and one metro station to Loudoun County and Fairfax County budgets where they will be subsidized by federal TIFIA loans.

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