City Desk

Anti-Union Virginia Bill Could Stall Dulles Rail

Virginia's creeping conservatism (noted by DCist) is starting to affect the region—at least, potential regional transit.

A bill that has passed the Virginia General Assembly prohibits state funding for projects mandating or giving preferential treatment to contractors who use union labor. That could prevent any state money from being used in the project.

That stance is at odds with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is building the rail extension and has already offered contractors a 10 percent bonus for using union labor.

"I would strongly urge them to reconsider that decision," said Delegate Tim Hugo, R-Fairfax, who sponsored the bill. "If they do that, it's going to kill the project."

This seems a bit like the overreaching the Post editorial board warned about recently.

Photo by catface3 via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License

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  • Bob Bruhns

    The PLA is debatable - but the real problem is not the cost of union labor. The real problem is a total lack of perspective by MWAA, and a remarkable incompetence on the part of FTA, regarding the appropriate costs of the elements of the project. The result is a massively overpriced project that we simply can not afford.

    MWAA likes to hide the line-item prices, but the FTA revealed the cost of the Dulles Rail Rt 28 station and the cost of the five Dulles Rail Phase II parking garages in July, 2011.

    1) At $83 million, the Rt 28 station costs about two times what a compaable station recently cost ($43.7 million) in upscale Fairfield, Connecticut. There is no justification for this.

    2) At $26,394 per parking space, the five Phase II parking garages cost easily 70% more than the average $15,000 per space parking garage cost in the USA. And again, there is no justification for this.

    Supposedly the FTA checked these prices last year, but evidently they didn't check them very well. These overcosts alone add up to about $140 million. Why have they not been noticed, when our leaders repeatedly claim to be looking at ways to reduce the cost of Phase II?

    And there are five more stations in Phase II, and many more items as well. Based on the overcost in the Rt 28 station cost, we could easily be looking at another $200 million of overcost for the other stations, and who knows how much overcost for everything else in the job.

    Dulles Rail costs as much as an all-underground system, yet all but 1/2 mile of it is above ground. Why are our leaders allowing this kind of overcost?

    I'm not sure that the MWAA PLA is appropriate for Dulles Rail Phase II - but it is not union labor that is causing the cost explosion noted above. Something is seriously wrong with the management of this project, and it needs to be corrected immediately.

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