More Details on OIG’s Report

Here’s Bill Turque’s story about the Office of Inspector General’s report on the Rail-to-Dulles project in the Washington Post. Turque summarized the thrust of the study better than I did in my insta-analysis yesterday: “The estimated cost of the proposed Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport has grown so significantly over the past three years that it may not meet guidelines for federal funding.”

Turque also noted an important finding that I neglected to include in my summary: “The report said costs will continue to rise. It cited a clause in the state’s contract with Dulles Transit that calls for the contract price to increase each day past Aug. 1 that federal approval to begin work on final design is delayed.”

Rep. Tom Davis told Turque he would continue fighting for federal funding but said changes would have to be made in the project’s cost structure.

“I think the project has issues,” he said. He expressed particular concern about tolls from the Dulles Toll Road, which are expected to pick up a major share of the local costs. At the moment, he said, no one really knows how much they would have to increase to finance the rail line.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” he said.

Here is the Associated Press’ story on the report.

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3 responses to “More Details on OIG’s Report”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    The reason this project still has “legs” despite the IG warnings is a reason we should all be very concerned.

    Why did the projects current managers not react with concern about the cost escalation until the Fed IG got involved?

    Is it because – the project managers felt that no matter what the cost might ultimately be – that it would not be a problem because they’d just “adjust” the road tolls to generate the desired revenues?

    Let me put this another way –

    most projects have two sides to the ledger – even VDOT and MPO projects.

    They show a cost for a project but they also show where the funds will come from.

    Is this project – where is the information that shows where the “rest of the money” is coming from beyond the Federal funding?

    It is insufficient to say that generically the increased costs will be made up by increased tolls without saying what the tolls will have to be ultimately if they are to fund the project.

    This is not only for public disclosure but – even the Dulles Toll road could have a threshold bar where increasing tolls would actually drive ridership totals down and therefore pull in even less revenues.

    If that happened – what would happen to the funding package for the rail expansion?

    Well.. WMATA would be holding this enormous deficit.. and drop it in the lap of taxpayers to pick up the shortfall.

    Is what is going on right now – essentially skulldugery?

    Shouldn’t taxpayers demand a halt to this project until some minimal levels of accountability are provided?

    When a Federal IG says “whoa” – there is a red flag waving…

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    The bulk of the cost overruns will be from Dulles Toll Road users with Fairfax putting in I think around 15% of the overruns

    Phase II still doesn’t have a tax district yet so its almost entirely reliant on Dulles toll road users

    Google it to make sure


  3. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    A number of us living in Fairfax County could have written the very same report. Rail to Dulles is NOT about transportation. It’s about enabling a few landowners to obtain huge increases in density at everyone else’s expense and putting billions into Bechtel, et al’s pockets.

    Many of us have been saying this for several years. The IG just made it official.

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