The TysonsTunnel TEAM reports:
Dear Fellow Tunnelers
The Dulles Metrorail Project has been much in the news over the last week --- and it has not been good news for supporters of the current sole-source, non-fixed-price contract for elevated rail.
Department of Transportation's Inspector General Report
First, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General released what the D.C. Examiner newspaper called a "scathing audit" of the project. The report validates several arguments that TysonsTunnel.org has been making all along:
The costs associated with this project continue to grow at an alarming rate, placing at risk critically-needed federal funding.
The lack of competitive bidding is a contributing factor to these cost increases.
Continued escalation in project costs --- likely because roughly 60% of the contract is not fixed-price --- could require more and more local funding, subjecting Dulles Toll Road users to large toll increases and putting pressure on Fairfax County to commit additional funds beyond the proceeds from the special tax district.
The Dulles project has experienced "significant" schedule slippages. Four years to be exact. In December 2004, the estimated project completion date was 2009. In March 2007, the date was set at 2013.
To quote the IG report: "In past reviews of major projects, rapid cost growth and schedule slippages so early in the project were clear signs of risk. The reliability of the current cost estimate is unknown."
Contrary to the charges of tunnel opponents, these staggering cost increases and schedule delays HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TUNNEL.
Second, earlier this week the U.S. House of Representatives passed language that would require the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to consider the congestion, environmental and mobility benefits of transit tunnels when evaluating projects for federal funding. The language would also require the FTA to factor in the costs of mitigating congestion, noise and air pollution, etc. when evaluating transit projects that do not include a tunnel, but where a tunnel was one of the alternative designs considered. FTA is not currently required to consider such costs or savings.
This provision prompted a flurry of news reports saying that the provision could imperil the Dulles project because including the costs of mitigating all of the negative consequences of constructing the above-ground rail would raise the cost of the project which is already teetering on the edge of being too costly to qualify for federal funding.
Well...hello!? It makes sense to consider these factors in determining the cost and wisdom of a transit project because they are real costs that will be borne by the regions affected by project construction.
Rep. Tom Davis argues that these changes were meant to give the Board of Supervisors and the Governor additional options as they move this project forward.
Dulles Rail "Summit"
Finally, yesterday Gov. Kaine cancelled his afternoon schedule to attend a meeting with the Northern Virginia congressional delegation called by Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. According to the Examiner, the meeting was part of "a late-stage effort to salvage Dulles Rail, a meeting that comes amid growing doubts about the project's ability to move forward."
The current elevated rail project is in trouble --- and everyone knows it! That's why, according to a July 31st Sun Gazette article, Rep. Davis believes that officials now must find ways to reduce the project's cost, possibly by building a large-bore tunnel through Tysons Corner and putting the contract out to competitive bidding.
TysonsTunnel.org Fights On
TysonsTunnel.org is continuing our efforts to bring sanity to the Dulles project. Recently, we met with Rep. Davis and Rep. Jim Moran to seek their renewed efforts to resolve the current project problems in a manner that will allow competitive bidding and side-by-side consideration of the tunnel and aerial options. Both have agreed to work with us to try to craft a solution to the current dilemma that will ensure both the timely, cost-effective completion of Metrorail to Dulles and the future development potential of Tysons Corner. Thank you Congressmen Davis and Moran for your ongoing efforts!
Don't let anyone fool you into believing that trying to bring both competitive bidding and the tunnel back into consideration will cause the project to be ineligible for federal funding. Our data and estimates show that construction of a 3.5-mile, large-bore tunnel could actually cost $300-400 million less than the current aerial design and can be completed without causing additional delay.
Consequently, there is time and every good reason to fix this project so that everyone wins and taxpayers and toll road users save money.
We urge you to continue to press your elected officials at all levels of government to work for a resolution that includes competitive bidding and fair consideration of the tunnel for Tysons Corner.
TysonsTunnel.org represents the collective will of thousands of citizen supporters and hundreds of businesses, large and small, civic groups and homeowner associations. Suggestions to the contrary are an insult to you --- our supporters --- and to the combined commitment, effort and financial support you provide to this campaign.
We are still fighting the fight! Thank you all for your continued support for this effort!
To donate to our effort, and we can really use your support now more than ever, Please visit our online giving page at:
Corporate donations are tax-deductible.
It's STILL Not Over...
- The TysonsTunnel TEAM
1390 Chain Bridge Road, #65 McLean, Virginia 22101 P: 703.286.0890 C: 703.795.2967 F: 703.935.4025 It's Not Over til It's Under!
1390 Chain Bridge Road, #65
McLean, Virginia 22101
It's Not Over til It's Under!