Open up the Rail-to-Dulles Deliberations

Judicial Watch, a government watchdog group, has formally requested that Virginia’s Secretary of Transportation, Pierce Homer, make future meetings of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Review Panel open to the public and the press. has the story here.

Says the story written by Kali Schumitz: “The panel began closed-door meetings last week to formulate a recommendation for the state to pursue either a tunnel or aerial tracks for running Metro through Tysons Corner as part of the project to extend rail to Washington Dulles International Airport.”

Spokesmen for the American Society of Civil Engineers, which formed the panel at Homer’s request, argued the meetings should stay closed. Said Patrick Natale, ASCE president: “We need to move quickly and have frank discussions.”

It’s in the Kaine administration’s interest, however, to keep the meetings open.

The Rail-to-Dulles project has an estimated cost of $4 billion, assuming no overruns. As I’ve argued in previous posts, the funding mechanism proposed by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority — 50 percent coming from a toll on the Dulles Toll Road — would put into motion a massive transfer of wealth from mostly middle-class commuters to wealthy owners of property near the Metro stations. A recommendation to run either a tunnel or aerial tracks would have a tremendous impact on the property values in Tysons Corner.

Any deliberations held behind closed doors, protected from public scrutiny, will only feed the impression, justified or not, that the interests of the general public are not being considered. Surely, the Kaine administration does not wish to be depicted as the willing tool of a handful of rich, influential landowners. Opening up the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Review Panel will help dispel such notions.

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