Mr. James Simpson, Administrator
Federal Transit Administration
1200 New Jersey Ave. SE
4th & 5th Floors – East Building
Washington, DC 20590
Noncompliance with Local Law with Locally Preferred Alternative
Dear Mr. Simpson:
We appreciate the opportunity to bring some important facts to light regarding the issue of whether the federal government should advance the Dulles Rail project into final engineering. We believe the correct answer is “NO.”
This letter will not address the insufficiency of this application under cost-benefit rules (which merit a rating of LOW), or the land use factor, which is uniquely poor for this project, and is the subject of an existing, unanswered FOIA request (again, meriting a rating of LOW).
The FTA, by regulation, is being asked to evaluate the Locally Preferred Alternative. However, for reasons stated below, we don’t believe the heavy-rail fixed guideway Locally Preferred Alternative was ever properly selected based on governing Virginia state law with regard to open meetings and free flow of information. Because of this, other more reasonable alternatives, such as a combination of HOT lanes and free general purpose lanes, was never considered. This is obviously inconsistent because this alternative is being implemented all around the Toll Road segment (in Virginia, I-395, 495, and I-95, and in Maryland I-95 and I-695). If this approach is such a good idea-and evidence shows that it is the best alternative for the 10 mile Dulles segment-why was it never considered?
The reason is that the promoters of Dulles Rail don’t seem to care about cost effective transportation, but rather are in the thrall of billionaire landowners in Tysons and the labor unions, who together are the big winners from this scheme. The residents, business owners, and those wishing mobility in the Dulles Corridor are losers.
The Dulles Rail project has never received properly considered endorsement as a Locally Preferred Alternative aside from closed meetings between participants who have an interest in receiving goodies from the project. Consider:
1) The entire heavy rail project was stillborn in 2001 when a subgroup of the Commonwealth Transportation Board secretly morphed the previously (6-1) Bus Rapid Transit project into a heavy rail. We have FOIA’d the minutes of that meeting and was told that there is no written evidence. When this subject was litigated, a local judge (Jane Roush) said that this type of proceeding was off limits to citizens and that if we didn’t think that government was following its own rules, our only recourse was to vote them out of office in the next election (Yes, that’s exactly what she said). Then she proceeded to fine the lawyer who had the temerity to ask that this process be transparent in accordance with the law! The issue of the reviewability of the entire Dulles transaction is now pending before the Virginia Supreme Court.
2) The local Fairfax transportation tax districts, on which the promoters rely, was put together in form, substance, and extent, in a series of unannounced, closed and secret meetings between the Tysons promoters and members of the Fairfax County government, again in violation of Virginia open meeting laws. The only announced, public part of the process was the rubber stamping of the Tax Districts by the Fairfax board in 2004.
We have drafted a lawsuit detailing the numerous deficiencies in the tax district process, which will be filed should this project go any further. You can check out details at www.dullesfreeway.org.
By the way, the democrat-dominated Fairfax Board of Supervisors never asked its own Fairfax County Transportation Department for ANY analysis of ANY aspect of the rail proposal, despite the fact it is by far the largest transportation project and tax increase in the history of Fairfax County.
3) The transfer of theToll Road by the State, without consideration and with no control on tolls, was done by executive fiat. This shameful assignment is now being reviewed by the Virginia Supreme Court. About the only thing the transfer documents really say is that the whole project will be built by union labor-this in a right to work state-thus guaranteeing an inflated price. (Most projects in Virginia are done open-shop).
4) After the purported transfer, the Metropolitan Area Airports Authority has invoked its ability to establish internal Bylaws to avoid any public scrutiny of its treatment of the Toll Road and the WMATA extension. We feel that MWAA is NOT exempt from Virginia open meeting laws.