Former Guvs Urge MWAA to Backtrack on PLA Policy

Three former Virginia governors and a former U.S. Senator have urged the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) to “put ideology, partisan politics, pride and parochial interests aside” and reverse its decision to favor Project Labor Agreements (PLA) when evaluating construction bids for Phase 2 of the Rail-to-Dulles project.

“The Project Labor Agreement (PLA), the key point of contention, is a political and philosophical issue upon which reasonable people can disagree. To resolve that issue, we recommend that the MWAA board adopt the same prescription for Phase 2 as it prescribed for Phase 1 and leave it to the selected prime contractor to choose the best method to meet MWAA’s requirements for Phase 2,” stated the letter signed by Republicans John W. Warner and Linwood Holton and Democrats Chuck Robb and Gerald L. Baliles.

Current MWAA board policy is to favor a PLA, but not require one, by giving additional points in the bid evaluation to prime contractors whose proposals include a PLA. Under a PLA, the contractor hires labor through a union shop. The governors are urging the board to revert to the policy that prevailed during Phase 1 construction in which the winning bidder, Dulles Transit Partners, voluntarily signed a PLA but sub-contractors were not required to.

Critics of the MWAA’s pro-PLA policy say that it might discourage open shop contractors from bidding on the estimated $2.7 billion project, thus increasing the likelihood of a higher bid.

The copy of the May 14 letter that was passed along to me was addressed to Todd A. Stottlemyer, a Virginia representative to the MWAA board recently appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell. I do not know if the letter was distributed to other board members.

“As Republicans and Democrats, we come together again to ask that you and your fellow decision makers on Dulles Rail continue to work with [U.S. Transportation] Secretary [Ray] LaHood — and with each other — to resolve your differences and move this vital project smartly forward in a cost effective manner, and without putting an unfair burden upon the Dulles Toll Road users.”

My only question… Why were the signatures of other former governors — Sen. Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, George Allen, Jim Gilmore and Doug Wilder — not affixed to the letter?


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  1. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Maybe the other governors are not knee jerk anti-labor.

    1. Chuck Robb and Gerald Baliles — kneejerk labor? Really?

  2. larryg Avatar

    sort of a dumb question. Since the MWAA is a 3 state compact are DC and Maryland opposed or in favor of the PLA agreements and if they favor PLA agreements does it matter what who else in Va thinks if the DC/Md members of MWAA hold the votes?

    or do I misunderstand how it works?

    1. Point of information: MWAA is a two-state compact between DC and Va. Md is not a member of the compact.

      Sure, if non-Virginia representatives on the MWAA board out-vote the Virginia representatives, it doesn’t matter what anyone in Virginia thinks about PLA.

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        Again … dis-ingenious. Maryland is, by law, entitled to 3 of the MWAA’s soon-to-be 17 seats. The federal government is, by law, entitled to three of the MWAA seats. So, while you may argue that the specific lease by the federal government is to an entity formed by Virginia and DC it is also an entity where 6 of the 17 board seats are appointed either by the Governor of Maryland or the President of the United States. Neither the state of Virginia nor the District of Columbia can do anything about that board representation.

        Calling MWAA a two state compact is semi-correct (DC is not a state) in a very narrow legalistic sense. In operational reality, it is a four party compact.

  3. Peter, unlike the rest of Metrorail, there is no funding for the construction of Dulles Rail coming from the District of Maryland. Under that circumstance, I think a preference for Virginia companies and workers is reasonable. Since the overwhelming number of Virginia contractors and construction workers are non-union, the use of either a mandatory PLA or a bidding credit for a PLA is likely to result in fewer Virginia companies and workers being employed for Phase II than if any PLA is voluntary.

    Second, use of a mandatory PLA or a bidding credit for a PLA is unfair to Virginians generally. We have a right-to-work state, and that must be respected. What would your opinion be if MWAA was constructing an addition to Metrorail in Maryland and/or the District, with either a prohibition on a PLA or bidding credit for the non-use of a PLA? Same difference, IMO.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      The Imperial Clown Show in Richmond forfeited its right to dictate terms of the Metro expansion when it took the coward’s way out and gave the whole kit and caboodle to the MWAA. The Imperial Clown Show in Richmond knew full well how the MWAA board representation worked when it made that decision.

      Through all of the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond’s bitching I have never heard one interesting idea – take back the entire project and the Dulles Toll Road too.

      Have any of our super-courageous state government politicos offered to just take the whole thing back?

  4. Vito Corleone Avatar
    Vito Corleone

    Minor quibble: John Warner was never Governor of Virginia.

    1. Uh, yes, you’re quite right. Thanks for pointing that out. It’s cases like this why I feel like a flying trapeze artist without a net — no one but readers to catch me. I have made the necessary correction to the post.

  5. old duffer Avatar
    old duffer

    There sure has been a lot of talk about this being some kind of interstate compact. How the heck can there be an interstate compact if there’s only one state in it? It looks to me like it’s just some sort of deal between the feds, DC and Virginia to run the airports.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Well Old Duffer, you ask a good question.

      From the psycho-babble you read on this board one would certainly think that that Virginia and Virginia alone owned these airports. That’s because many of the commentators would rather blather than tell the truth. Let me muddy their arguments with a few facts:

      1. Like many things in Northern Virginia, the airports are (not were, are) owned by the US Federal government.

      2. Until June 7, 1987 the airports (owned by the federal government) were managed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

      3. On June 7, 1987 the federal government LEASED the airports to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Administration (MWAA).

      4. Since the federally owned airports served the people of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC the feds reasonably established the MWAA with a board of directors selected by the Governors of Maryland and Virginia and the Mayor of Washington, DC.

      5. A mid-point review: The airports were never owned by Virginia, are not owned by Virginia and will most likely never be owned by Virginia. To people with a terminal case of “the Richmond attitude” this is hard to understand. To people who have been on the GW Parkway or who have worked at the Pentagon, this is fairly straight forward.

      6. There are two roads that connect the DC Beltway to Dulles Airport – The Dulles Access Road and the Dulles Toll Road. Both roads are built on land managed by the MWAA and (presumably) owned by the US Federal government. The Access Road is a direct road to Dulles Airport. You cannot get on the access road and exit anywhere other than Dulles Airport. Until 2006, the access road was operated by VDOT under contract to MWAA (the road’s “owner”). The Dulles Toll Rd was built in 1984 by VDOT as a toll road for local traffic. It sits on land “owned” by MWAA.

      7. In 2005, five companies submitted proposals to VDOT to privatize the toll road which included payments to Virginia that could be used for transportation. In response MWAA made its own proposal to take over operation of the toll road from VDOT, assuming associated debts, and commit to building a rapid transit line in the median. VDOT agreed and, on March 27, 2006, MWAA took over from Virginia the operation of the Dulles Toll Road, including the outstanding debt and the obligation to construct a rapid mass transit line (the Silver Line) in the median strip of the toll road.

      8. Mid-point review – MWAA now operates the Dulles Toll Rd because the state government of Virginia gave MWAA the toll road. This was done because the state government of Virginia is so grossly incompetent and culpably negligent that it can’t manage either a toll road or a mass transit construction project entirely within its own borders. However, as can be seen lately, the same state government which lacked the cojones to undertake a project within its own borders is very good at criticizing the organization that is doing its job for it (typical “Richmond attitude”).

      9. The Imperial Clown Show in Richmond (aka Virginia’s state government) has provided virtually none of the funding for the massive Phase I and Phase II extensions of Metro. I believe the state’s total contribution will be $150M out of $6.8B. However, the state’s measly contribution apparently gives it unlimited reasons to carp, complain and generally belly-ache.

  6. larryg Avatar

    why even DC?

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Because the airports were, are and will always be owned by the federal government. And when the Reagan Administration decided to “regionize” a regional asset – it made the very wise decision to insist on adult supervision on the MWAA board – in the form of representatives from Maryland and the federal government.

      When it comes to the people put on the MWAA board, DC and Virginia have been dumb and dumber. Thank God that Maryland and the federal government have actually put sane people on the board.

      As one point of fact, the biggest agitator for the PLAs was not put on the board by DC, Maryland or the President. He was appointed to the board by the Governor of Virginia.

      Nobody should be fooled by the blather on this board. Virginia as been the worst member of the four party coalition, followed closely by DC. Maryland and the federal government have been instrumental in keeping the MWAA from becoming the younger twin of the Clown Show in Richmond.

  7. Of course. It’s right there in the script. Now all the play-actors are going to jettison the PLA (morphed into PLA-preference). Then, the leaders and media will tell Northern Virginia “Oh, you were so smart, and you saved So Much Money. So hurry up and approve this right now, or else the sky is going to fall!”

    The subject of the excessive COST of the line items of this Dulles Rail Phase II job will not be discussed until some time AFTER the papers are signed. And when that discussion happens, it will be Democrats accusing Republicans, and vice-versa. And for once, they will both be right.

    But a number of people will complain “Hey, this isn’t fair to us on the toll road, can’t you buy down the tolls?” And when push comes to shove, somebody will float a bond that will grow towards a Billion dollars, or possibly even more. And this bond will probably really be two bonds, one floated by Fairfax County, and the other floated by Loudoun County, rather than anything more than the $150 million from the Commonwealth of Virginia. But one way or the other, there WILL be a toll-paydown bond bigger than anything that has been demanded yet, further surprising three generations of taxpayers. Oh well.

    By the time the public begins to dimly realize that they have been HAD, there will be another ripoff going on to distract them.

    I anticipate that the amount of this officially sanctioned theft here in Phase II will reach about $1.6 Billion dollars. That’s a LOT of money. Do you realize that $1.6 Billion dollars is literally enough to send eight cargo rockets to the International Space Station?

    And people around Woodbridge are going to start screaming for THEIR rail line to DC. And some agency will be put in charge of that, and they will immediately point to the costs of this Phase II job, saying “See, this is what such a job costs.” And then they will ratchet their cost up from there as high as they can, until they can’t get away with any more of a ripoff – and the next ripoff job will start, and its people will point to the cost of the Woodbridge rail job, and so on, and so on, etc.

    1. DJRippert Avatar


      Although Phase I seems to be on track from a budget perspective – as far as I’ve heard, your points make sense. I am not so sure that it’s a conspiracy. Conspiracies take more brains and organizational skill than our politicians have. More likely, it is “politics as usual”. Discussing what a parking garage should cost doesn’t curry any favor from the Tea Pots for Cooch the Pooch. However, ranting and raving about PLAs secures his position as Tea Pot of the Year.

      Barbara Comstock is in the same league I’m sorry to say. I had some hope for her. However, she just had to be the Clown Show member who pushed the anti-PLA legislation. Why? Are her constituents really anti-union? I am one of her constituents and I could basically care less. No, she wanted to strengthen her bona fides with the Tea Pots so she patroned the legislation. Had she or the RPV possessed any real sense the legislation would have been patroned by some lawmaker away from the path of the Metro whose constituents don’t give a rip whether the projects happen or not. This is not conspiracy, this is incompetence.

      Nobody will do what you have done. Nobody will comb through the project looking for inconsistencies. Nobody will ask what a parking garage should cost per space vs what it will cost per space. None of that will happen. It won’t happen because our political class can’t get any milage out of simply being competent. Some state senator who finds $50M in savings will soon be forgotten. However, when Cooch the Pooch and Babs rail against unions – that will be remembered for years.

      Such is the poverty of politics and the media in Virginia.

      I’ll give Jim Bacon his due – unlike any other media outlet, he tries to dig into the underlying issues around transportation in Virginia.

      Now, if he would just occasionally lean toward modernity rather than waiting for “things to bubble up” ….

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      One big question that never gets answered – Where is Tom Davis in all this? Former Fairfax County Supervisor, former Congressman from Northern Virginia, current Vice Chairman of the MWAA, presumed conservative ….

      When politicians stop talking …. LOOK OUT!

      1. Good question — where is Tom Davis in all of this?

  8. larryg Avatar

    “toll buydown” is an interesting phrase. Maybe we’ll see the same technique with the HOT Lanes?

    We’ll tell Richmond that they need to come up with the money to buy-down the HOT Lane toll after they buy down the DTR tolls?

  9. Nice summary DJRippert, but you can’t trust wiki all the time. “It sits on land “owned” by MWAA.” “Both roads are built on land managed by the MWAA and (presumably) owned by the US Federal government.

    Check the link below to see what looks like an official doc that says the dirt is owned by the Federal gov’t. That be you and me.

    1. DJRippert Avatar


      That’s what I thought despite the Wikipedia error. Hence, the (presumably) and quotes around owned. Thanks for finding an authoritative document.

      So, Virginia won’t even manage the toll road after 2067 – which, I certainly acknowledge, is a long time from now.

      The main points for the screeching cry babies in Richmond – the airports are not yours, the toll road is not really ours, the access road is not yours. However, despite all this, Virginians probably get the majority of the value out of all these assets (although Reagan Airport would probably be a good debate). Finally, Richmond gave the Toll Rd and Metro project management to MWAA despite having five other bids from which to choose.

  10. larryg Avatar

    Actually…. “toll buydown” means to have the “clown show” in Richmond tax the rest of RoVa to pay for the tolls and metro for workers that earn 4 times what they earn.

    Hampton has a similar idea for their tunnels and bridges.

    Nothing new here.. virtually every locality in Va believes with all their heart that RoVa will pay for their transportation wants/needs.

    NoVa and Hampton just have more chutzpah.

    Every locality in Va has the same problem. There is no accounting disclosure of just how much money they generate from gas taxes and in virtually every case they believe with all their heart that they generate more than they actually do and it gets “stolen” by NoVa/RoVa/Hampton and they want it back.

    I do not advocate “balkanizing” Va over transportation but I do advocate telling every locality the truth about how much they actually generate in tax revenues and from that information – formulate a realistic approach to paying for transportation infrastructure in their locality and/or band together as a region for appropriate regional facilities.

    We hear talk of “ponzi schemes”these days. I would assert that Virginia and VDOT are among the more celebrated operators of “ponzi schemes” in the way we do not provide for simple transparency of transportation monies.

    We have excuses as to why we don’t do that – i.e. fuel is sold by distributors who don’t or cannot “track” the place where the fuel is delivered – as if addresses and zip codes are inscrutable things. And no… I do not buy the additional excuse that localities are sometimes not matched exactly with the zip codes – the same problem exists for commercial businesses reporting sales tax revenues and they manage to get that sorted out usually.

    The NUMBER ONE thing that Va needs to do is to simply tell the truth to each locality as to what that locality actually generates in fuel taxes and then have a conversation about how much the state needs for state level operations and roads of state-wide significance and then how much is left for the locality.

    Most localities are going to be shocked at just how little their locality actually generates in fuel taxes – compared to other revenues from property and sales and income taxes.

    It’s really not hard to do a back-of-the-envelope for an average driver.

    25000 miles a year for a car that gets 25 mpg = 1000 gallons of gas at 17.5 cents tax per gallon = 175.00. A county with 60,000 cars will generate about 10 million dollars. One mile of secondary road can cost that much.
    You can slice/dice this for your particular county but the germane point is that the current gas tax barely generates enough money to pay for maintenance and operations.

    There is a Federal gas tax also that generates an equivalent amount of money usually spent on improvements or new projects but again…for a given average sized locality, you’re talking about 10 or 20 million dollars not 100 or 200 million…

    Va basically fosters financial illiteracy when it comes to transportation by their opaque accounting that encourages localities to believe fairy-tales about how much money they generate in fuel taxes.

    1. I totally agree with Larry here. Every region assumes they’re getting screwed by the VDOT funding formulas. It would be very helpful to know exactly how much each locality contributes and how much it gets back (with appropriate deductions to cover VDOT overhead). Then we could focus on the *real* inequities instead of the imagined ones.

  11. DJRippert Avatar

    “Every locality in Va has the same problem. There is no accounting disclosure of just how much money they generate from gas taxes and in virtually every case they believe with all their heart that they generate more than they actually do and it gets “stolen” by NoVa/RoVa/Hampton and they want it back.”.

    The Hallelujah Chorus is playing in my mind as I read this.


    Why does the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond find transparency so frightening?

    My friends in Canada tell me that the Canadian government performs this analysis accurately and completely at the provincial level. You can find this same analysis at the state level. But the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond is incapable of this analysis at any level.

    When faced with a choice between incompetence and conspiracy, you can safely assume incompetence 95% of the time. Hence, I suspect Clown Show incompetence.

    We need to make this analysis a MUST for politicians who want to return to Richmond in 2013.

  12. larryg Avatar

    The doc supplied by taxpig has more info in it than just who owns the corridor.

    For instance: ” Under a resolution by the Commonwealth Transportation
    Board, not less than 85 percent of revenues in excess of cost are set aside for
    transit in the Dulles Corridor.”

    So the idea to use the DTR as a cash cow for transit was not MWAA’s idea or perhaps if it was..others convinced the CTB to take “credit” for that idea.


    ” If the easement is relinquished to the Airports Authority, VDOT will no longer have the responsibility for funding the rail expansion project beyond the transfer date or committing resources to the oversight of the Toll Road.”

    when/where/how did VDOT originally become responsible for funding the rail expansion to start with?

    this part has to go back to when it was decided to build the toll road to start with, right?

  13. The Clown Show finds transparency so upsetting because those who make significant campaign contributions find transparency so upsetting. It’s not a Republican thing or Democratic thing; it’s a Virginia thing. If there were transparency, it would be hard for special interests to get access to the Transportation Slush Fund, err, Trust Fund.

    Here’s an excerpt from the remarks of Delegate Jim LeMunyon to the Commonwealth Transportation Board earlier in May.

    “As you may know, I introduced legislation that passed the General Assembly this year, (H.B. 599/S.B. 531) requiring the Department of Transportation, in ongoing coordination with the Commonwealth Transportation Board and others to evaluate and rate all significant transportation projects (including highway, mass transit, and technology projects) in and near the Northern Virginia Transportation District, according to the degree to which the project is expected to reduce congestion and, to the extent feasible, the degree to which the project is expected to improve regional mobility in the event of a homeland security emergency. The legislation also encourages the CTB, when determining the allocation of highway construction funding in the Northern Virginia Transportation District, to give priority to projects that most effectively reduce congestion in the most congested corridors and intersections.

    “By rating these proposed projects, the CTB will be better informed when selecting projects for funding and will be more confident that our limited transportation dollars will be used to the greatest benefit for the people in Northern Virginia. In fact, without using this type of analysis, we can be virtually certain that reducing congestion will take longer than necessary.

    “In October of 2011, I appeared at a similar public hearing to request funding for several transportation projects important to people of the 67th district and Northern Virginia. While I am delighted that significant, congestion reduction projects are included in the SYIP, the SYIP continues to include funding for projects that would make little or no difference in reducing congestion and improving the regional mobility of Northern Virginians. They are too numerous to note here.”

    Transparency would make it harder for lobbyists to get funding for or priority ranking for “projects that would make little or no difference in reducing congestion and improving the regional mobility of Northern Virginians.” I rarely agree with Gerry Connolly, but I did when he told me Til Hazel and his partners support any transportation project that borders their land. Hazel is hardly alone. The system is corrupt and needs reform. The VDOT funding plan includes funding for projects that don’t improve traffic flow. MWAA’s Dulles Rail project will result in even worse traffic congestion from the mega development it triggers. All done with public money. Unlike the HOT Lanes project, there is no private money in Dulles Rail, despite its being built under the public-private partnership act. MWAA and the CTB are part of the same monster — unregulated entities controlling public money.

    Virginia is as corrupt as Louisiana, New Jersey or Chicago. We’re just more sophisticated.

  14. old duffer Avatar
    old duffer

    A lot of good information here, for which I am grateful. But my original question went to a more simplistic point. Mr. Bacon and others talk about MWAA as if it has some special sacred cow status because it is a “compact” between states. Maybe the word
    “compact” is the problem, but to me it signifies a constitutionally significant type of agreement between states – something that does take on special status. But the MWAA deal only has one state participant – Virginia. Moreover, the federal government seems almost as if it is an equal partner, something you wouldn’t find in a constitutional compact. So my question is how can this creature be anything other than just some sort of arrangement that the parties can change at will? Anyone know of any “compacts” (in a constitutional sense) in which only one state is a party? WMATA seems like it is similar, but Maryland is a party to that along with Virginia (so DC’s status doesn’t matter) AND Congress approved that compact as the Constitution requires. If there are problems with MWAA, it seems to me Virginia can fix them pretty much unilaterally if it doesn’t mind being a bit pushy with DC.

    1. Old Duffer, your argument is very similar to the one that Rep. Frank Wolf makes. Hopefully, I will have time early next week to lay out the case that one of his staffers made against MWAA’s interpretation of interstate compacts when I talked to him Friday.

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        As a long – suffering constituent of Frank Wolfe’s, let me give you a primer.

        Wolfe is a cicada. He gets elected and then burrows into the ground for the next 18 months. Six months ahead of an election he emerges from the ground, finds some random event to get his face in the paper, gets re-elected and then goes into the dirt for another 18 months.

        You are being used by Frank Wolfe for his pre-election metamorphosis into a politician who cares about something.

        Also, Frank Wolfe was elected in 1981. Yes, stunningly, he has been in Congress for the last 31 years. Perhaps you could ask Mr. Wolfe about his conservative disdain for career politicians. Moreover, he had been in Congress for 3 terms when the MWAA agreement was struck. As you know, this agreement concerned the Federal Government (where he was an elected official) and several other parties (one of which is the state which elected him to Congress). What did the esteemed Frank Wolfe have to say about the MWAA agreement back in 1987 when Ronald Reagan signed it? Was he outraged that the federal government and Maryland had board level representation in a two-party compact? Did he demand any extra powers for his home state of Virginia?

        Oh wait!! The MWAA was officially formed on June 7, 1987 – right in the middle of one of Frank Wolfe’s hibernation periods. No doubt he doesn’t remember much of anything about the matter.

        In the future, all matters of importance to Virginia’s 10th Congressional District need to be decided within six months of an election.

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      Old Duffer:

      Let’s follow the commercial trail (at least, as I understand it):

      The asset owner is the Federal Government. The Feds own the airports, the Feds own the land under the Dulles Toll and Access Roads. The feds own the Access Road itself.

      In 1987 the asset owner decided to lease its asset to a legal entity formed by Virginia and DC. However, the asset owner had certain requirements before it would allow the lessee to control the asset. Among those requirements was (I assume) permanent board representation on the board of the lessee for the asset owner (the Feds) and another affected party (Maryland).

      I assume, but don’t know, that Maryland’s support for this lease of federal assets was obtained (at least in part) by the Feds insistence on representation for Maryland on the MWAA Board.

      Thus, a contract was struck between the Federal government and a “leasing company” formed by Virginia and DC.

      Why do you think the owners of the leasing company can abrogate the terms of the lease?

      Can Flour and Transurban’s stockholders randomly change the terms of the Beltway HOT lanes?

      The Constitution does not give any entity the right to randomly break a legal contract. It simply precludes the federal government from unilaterally forming, ending or changing the terms of a multi-state compact. However, that’s not what the Federal government is doing. At least, that is, so long as the states involved freely accept the federal changes. Hence, the MWAA’s insistence that both Virginia and DC vote to modify the charter of their MWAA agreement in order to seat the two new board members. Without those votes, the federal law adding the seats might have been unconstitutional. With those votes, the change in board composition is a suggestion by the Feds adopted (Constitutionally) by the affected parties.

      Of course, the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond can’t fathom the actions of the MWAA board in actually wanting both owners of the leasing company to accept the new board arrangement “suggested” by the asset owner (since the Feds, arguably, have only the power to make suggestions to a multi-state compact).

      The real question comes down to the terms of the 1987 lease of assets from the Federal Government to the leasing company called MWAA and owned by Virginia and DC. Does that lease require that the affected parties reserve permanent board seats for the asset owner and the State of Maryland? If so, I don’t see how that lease can be voided at the whim of the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond.

  15. larryg Avatar

    I think the short answer to the question is that METRO itself is multi-jurisdictional and this is an extension to that system.

    ” An interstate compact is an agreement between two or more states of the United States of America. Article I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution provides that “no state shall enter into an agreement or compact with another state” without the consent of Congress. Frequently, these agreements create a new governmental agency which is responsible for administering or improving some shared resource such as a seaport or public transportation infrastructure. In some cases, a compact serves simply as a coordination mechanism between independent authorities in the member states.”

    What the other linkages (if any) are between WMATA (which is listed as a compact) and MWAA (which is NOT listed as a compact but instead as an “independent airport authority)… seems murky.

    Even though it is characterized as an “authority”, the WIKI narrative for MWAA makes it sound like a compact: ” Based upon advice of counsel, due to the unique nature of MWAA and through operation of the Compact Clause of the United States Constitution, ”

    here is the doc (perhaps provided previously): Memo to MWAA Board of Directors from legal counsel

    bottom line: the lawyers rule here… not us citizen schmucks…

  16. larryg Avatar

    It appears that MWAA got into the business of building an extension to METRO for WMATA instead of WMATA handling the expansion as they had done with previous expansions.

    That is the legitimate basis for WMATA being a multi-state Compact.

    The question is HOW and WHY did a separate entity become involved in the expansion of WMATA in the first place?

    Why would an airport authority expand it’s mission to include toll roads and subway systems when there was already a VDOT and a WMATA to handle those issues?

    If one wanted to speculate, perhaps one might postulate that ‘someone’ did not want WMATA involved in the expansion and, with some help, pushed WMATA into an observer role rather than the principle authority.

    If that was the motive.. one can ask just what did it solve?

    Are we trying to carve off the Va portion of METRO and this is the result?

  17. Yesterday, I was able to talk with legislators at McLean Day. Putting aside political posturing, I was told they and the Governor are concerned about how to get state money into the Dulles Rail project in a manner that buys down the tolls and doesn’t just go into Bechtel’s pocket. I also heard more criticism of MWAA for being totally focused on DTR tolls. Why can’t MWAA surcharge rail fares at the IAD station; impose a fee on airport merchants; or a dollar on Airport Access Road drivers? They could get some of the money needed.

    Additionally, a Virginia MWAA board member was reported to have had a discussion with D.C. and Maryland board members where the latter said they supported the PLA so that more jobs would go to D.C. and Maryland businesses and workers and also noted that their “constituents” wouldn’t be paying the high tolls. Yet one more time, Fairfax County residents supporting the PLA are played for fools. “Rail at any cost.” “Rail at any cost.”

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      What an absurd bunch of hooey you heard.

      Why doesn’t MWAA pur surcharges on the airports? Because many of the people using the airport are not from this area. They are flying into and out of Dulles and Reagan from elsewhere. You and your friends find it unfair to “tax” Toll Rd drivers for a local transportation system but it would be OK to tax residents of Atlanta for the same. That’s really, really silly.

      Another reason that taxing the airport is illogical is that the feds have already contributed billions in contrast to the state’s $150M. Why should “Americans at large” continue to pay a disproportionate share of a rail system when the local residents and state government won’t contribute.

      Also, as LarryG points out – this was always the plan. That proposal from MWAA was one of six received by the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond. Nobody forced Richmond to pick the MWAA.

      The crapola you are being told by a self-serving MWAA board member is also bunk. The ringleader for the PLA movement is Dennis Martire. Dennis is Vice President and Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA!). He was appointed by the Governor of Virginia – not Maryland or DC.


  18. larryg Avatar

    re: “buying down tolls”

    this is going to ultimately but the butt of NoVa as more regions in Va also ask to have their tolls “bought down”.

    “buying down tolls” is just another version of “ROVA – fund our region”.

    re: “rail at any cost” – correction – ” rail at any cost to ROVA”.

    does anyone have the answer as to why WMATA was not put in charge of Rail to Dulles rather than MWAA?

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      ““buying down tolls” is just another version of “ROVA – fund our region”.”.

      Actually, buying down tolls is another version of “oh my goodness, inflation is real”. This is a simple fact of economics which the denizens of the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond are just too stupid to understand.

      Maybe the transfer payment for education from the urbanized areas of Virginia should have also been frozen at 1986 levels. How do you think the libtards in Virginia would have reacted to that?

      48 states have raised their gas tax since Virginia last raised its gas tax in 1986. Oil drenched Alaska is the only state that has waited longer.

      The facts are plain. Virginia’s transportation crisis is the direct consequence of a corrupt and incompetent state legislature.

  19. The facts are plain. Virginia’s transportation crisis is the direct consequence of a corrupt and incompetent state legislature.

    Nope. We need to index the gas tax, but the crisis was created by local government officials approving more development than the roads could handle. We need an adequate public facilities law that can be enforced by individuals in court.

  20. DJRippert Avatar

    Nice try but (as usual) totally lacking in factual support.

    “We need to index the gas tax, but the crisis was created by local government officials approving more development than the roads could handle.”.

    Given the frozen gas tax I suppose there should have been no new development approved. Is that your contention?

    I have demonstrated that the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond’s freezing of the gas tax at 1986 levels is a major outlier among the 50 states. Only oil drenched Alaska has gone longer without raising as taxes.

    Please provide quantitative evidence that the local governments in Virginia have approved development in some vastly different way that other urban and suburban locales in the United States.

    You can’t produce this evidence because it doesn’t exist. What exists is the absolute fact that the Clown Show doesn’t believe in inflation and the state governments of 48 other states do believe in inflation. In fact, the oil royalties obviate Alaska from the need to believe in state taxes at all.

    Face it, TMT – your argument is an emotional loser. You have no facts.

  21. DJR, as I posted earlier.

    “ ‘The problem with transportation in Virginia has been caused by local governments approving more real estate development than can be handle.’.
    ‘You have no factual basis for that statement.’
    “I do. I heard Sharon Bulova state this in her remarks to the McLean Citizens Association in May 2010. Chairman Bulova told the attendees that too often Fairfax County approved the development and the needed infrastructure (mainly transportation) never came. Traffic just got worse. Then she stated that the County and the BoS were going to try to do things differently with Tysons by tying levels of development to specific transportation improvements. I have also heard Planning Commissioners Walter Alcorn, Ken Lawrence and Jay Donahue make similar statements at the Planning Commission’s Tysons Committee public meetings. They also talked about how Tysons must be handled differently.
    “I have heard Supervisors Linda Smyth and John Foust make similar statements in meetings in Supervisor Foust’s office.
    “It would be hard to deny that the County has approved development and left VDOT to build the roads. And we have several public officials admitting this has occurred in the past, such that we have all suffered because of it. But it also seems that the the existing BoS has made a major effort not to do this any more. The Plan adopted for Tysons ties specific density levels to specific transportation improvements. Finally, we are seeing what the statutes have mandated for years begin to occur.
    A”re things perfect? Certainly not. But we are seeing some county officials fessing up that things have not worked out in the past. They know our transportation problems include, but are greater than, just a shortage of money. We need a entire package of changes in state law, along with additional revenues, in order to make any progress on transportation. Citizens understand it. It’s too bad most business operators don’t. The latter continue to wear blinders in their quest to get the Pizza delivery guy to subsidize them.”

    Where is your evidence to the contrary?

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      I don’t need to prove the negative. You need to prove the affirmative. And you can’t. Second hand stories of politicians blowing billows of hot air hardly constitues quantitative evidence of over-development in Northern Virginia vs other growing urban and suburban areas.

      Sorry, TMT but you have no facts.

  22. It does not make any difference whether Fairfax County approved development in a manner similar to anywhere else in the country. What matters is that state law, which is not privately enforceable, has not been followed.
    Again, as wrote earlier,
    “The problem with transportation in Virginia has been caused by local governments approving more real estate development than can be handle. Here is the legislative intent from the Code.
    “15.2-2200. Declaration of legislative intent. This chapter is intended to encourage localities to improve the public health, safety, convenience and welfare of its citizens and to plan for the future development of communities to the end that transportation systems be carefully planned; that new community centers be developed with adequate highway, utility, health, educational, and recreational facilities; that the need for mineral resources and the needs of agriculture, industry and business be recognized in future growth; that residential areas be provided with healthy surroundings for family life; that agricultural and forestal land be preserved; and that the growth of the community be consonant with the efficient and economical use of public funds.
    “State law on zoning ordinances. § 15.2-2283. Purpose of zoning ordinances.
    Zoning ordinances shall be for the general purpose of promoting the health, safety or general welfare of the public and of further accomplishing the objectives of § 15.2-2200. To these ends, such ordinances shall be designed to give reasonable consideration to each of the following purposes, where applicable: . . . (vi) to protect against one or more of the following: overcrowding of land, undue density of population in relation to the community facilities existing or available, obstruction of light and air, danger and congestion in travel and transportation, or loss of life, health, or property from fire, flood, impounding structure failure, panic or other dangers;
    “Here’s the law on cash proffers. § 15.2-2303.2. Proffered cash payments and expenditures. . . . C. Regardless of the date of rezoning approval, unless prohibited by the proffer agreement accepted by the governing body of a locality pursuant to § 15.2-2298, 15.2-2303, or 15.2-2303.1, a locality may utilize any cash payments proffered for any road improvement or any transportation improvement that is incorporated into the capital improvements program as its matching contribution under § 33.1-23.05. For purposes of this section, “road improvement” includes construction of new roads or improvement or expansion of existing roads as required by applicable construction standards of the Virginia Department of Transportation to meet increased demand attributable to new development. For purposes of this section, “transportation improvement” means any real or personal property acquired, constructed, improved, or used for constructing, improving, or operating any (i) public mass transit system or (ii) highway, or portion or interchange thereof, including parking facilities located within a district created pursuant to this title. Such improvements shall include, without limitation, public mass transit systems, public highways, and all buildings, structures, approaches, and facilities thereof and appurtenances thereto, rights-of-way, bridges, tunnels, stations, terminals, and all related equipment and fixtures.
    “With the possible exception for the new Tysons Comp Plan, for which the jury is still out, Fairfax County has not done this.
    “The law strongly suggests the costs for Dulles Rail should largely be paid by those real estate developments that create the demand for Dulles Rail. But that doesn’t happen.
    I would be more than willing to pay higher gas taxes, but only when local government stops approving land use changes without ensuring transportation needs are addressed (in plain language, enactment of a citizen-enforceable adequate public facilities law) and when new development pays for “meet increased demand attributable to new development.” I suspect I am not alone.
    But the easy way is to let the County off the hook; let the developers off the hook; blame VDOT; blame the General Assembly; blame RoVA; demand the pizza delivery boy pay higher gas taxes. Get some more of Other People’s Money.
    “We need laws that enable local residents to go to court to enforce adequate public facility laws and to force local governments to negotiate and collect proffers, cash or in-kind, that cover the costs of the additional public facilities needed to serve the additional demand for such facilities. Get this on the books , and sign me up for another 25 cents per gallon gas tax. But until then, I’ll keep my money.”

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      So, state law is being flaunted and has been flaunted for decades of over-development. However, a succession of state attorneys general (including the current governor) have failed to take appropriate action to enforce state law.

      TMT – Your arguments get weaker by the day.

  23. What Fairfax County is supposed to do when presented with a request to change zoning by adding more growth than is permitted by existing zoning is to determine whether there are sufficient transportation facilities to support the new growth. If not, the rezoning needs to be denied or the landowner needs to proffer what is needed to handle the additional development.

  24. larryg Avatar

    In 46 other states – no matter which ones index fuel taxes, a locality like Fairfax would be responsible for the local roads and the impacts to local roads from zoning decisions. The local leaders don’t have access to a state slush fund and they cannot blame the state for not paying for their local transportation needs.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      LarryG –

      Anything that reduces the power of the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond is good by me.

      As for Virginia being an inept government outlier – you are preaching to the choir with me.

      Pray tell – which are the four other states that operate the same way as Virginia? I don’t know but I am guessing it’s the usual bunch of throwbacks which cling to Dillon’s Rule like a baby clings to a frayed blankey. Am I right?

  25. There is not a lot I liked about Tim Kaine’s governorship. But I give him high credit for pushing the link between land use and transportation. The 527 TIA process is a very good first step.

  26. larryg Avatar

    Alaska, Delaware, North Carolina,
    and West Virginia… I believe, … but the point is that the vast majority of states do not deal with local roads and they have fairly strict standards for development on state level roads.

    this is a good reference for this and Dillon Rule issues:


    You’d not even need the 527 process except for state roads if local roads were the responsibility of the localities.

    1. DJRippert Avatar


      Thank you for the list. Alaska is an outlier because Alaska really is an outlier. They need their own way of doing things.

      Unfortunately, Virginia’s love of doing EVERYTHING as an outlier will make your proposal more difficult to implement. Not only does Virginia have virtually all of the independent cities in the United States but it also has a huge number of counties relative to its overall land mass. Therefore, a relatively small state live Virginia has a lot of very low population localities. Why is this the case? Nobody knows. It’s just the “we don’t like to change” attitude I guess.

      The problem, of course, is the overhead involved in running your own version of VDOT. Arlington and Henrico Counties are big enough to absorb the overhead. But what of the dozens and dozens of small, low population counties and cities? Some would have to band together into transportation regions to make this work, I believe. And please don’t tell me how each locality gets to choose between state run local roads and locality run local roads. That would be the death of your idea. One only has to look at how the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond screws Henrico County vs Arlington County to understand that the Clown Show needs to disappear entirely for this to work.

  27. larryg Avatar

    this is a reference to an Ohio Study to have the State take over all roads”

    Financial and Policy Options on Assuming Primary
    Responsibility for Local Roads throughout Ohio

    the interesting thing about this study is how the current 28 cents in the State Gas Tax is allocated between State and Local.

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