State Sen. Mark Herring, along with his Fairfax County colleague Sen. Janet Howell, is remaining vocal in his support for funding the Metrorail extension to Loudoun County.
Herring (D-Dist. 33) of Chantilly is calling for the state to pump as much as $500 million into the transportation venture.
In a joint statement Feb. 20, Herring and Howell (D-Dist. 32) of Reston said completing Phase 2 of the Dulles Rail Project will “accelerate the rate of private investment in the station areas and substantially increase the value of the real estate tax base in Loudoun and Fairfax counties for the next several decades.”
Calling the project one of local, state and national significance, the senators think Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s proposal to provide $150 million of state funding toward metrorail into Loudoun “falls woefully short of an acceptable contribution for this public-private partnership.”
Increasing state funding to $500 million is more commensurate with the funding commitments the commonwealth made previously to buy down tolls on major transportation projects in Hampton Roads and other public/private partnership projects, Herring said.
While the two senators submitted budget amendments to increase state funding, the General Assembly’s Senate Finance Committee didn’t include any funding for Phase 2 in its budget.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), one of the most high-profile detractors of Phase 2, has called the extension a disaster. Cuccinelli, and others in opposition, say the Phase 2 area will be just as well, or better, served by metro buses. This would avoid the massive debts issued on Virginia, Cuccinelli said.
According to a toll rate study commissioned by Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, tolls along the Dulles Toll Road could double beginning next year if Virginia fails to deliver on its promised $150 million contribution. Tolls for a one-way trip would climb from $2.25 to $4.50.
Even with $150 million from the state, tolls would increase to $2.75. Tolls are expected to reach $6.75 for a one-way trip by 2018 — without any additional state or federal funds.
Still, Herring said metrorail into Loudoun will “provide an essential transportation service for our citizens, including federal government employees, and reduce congestion on our roads.”
“Now is the time for Virginia to step up and make a significant contribution of funds to Phase 2,” Herring added.