Volume 1, Number 4. July 2010
Bearing Drift Virginia Politics on Demand J.R. Hoeft, Publisher email@example.com Michael Fletcher, Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org Alan Moore, Editor email@example.com Jane Dudley, Photo Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributors this issue: Wade Brumett Ann Flandermeyer DCH James Gabele Shaun Kenney Alan Moore Ward Smythe Krystle D. Weeks ÂŠ Copyright 2010
Stay Connected to Bearing Drift.
Click HERE to receive Bearing Drift Magazine by email. Volume 1, Number 4 / July 2010
In this Issue 4
Letter from Bearing Drift
Yeas and Nays
Legislator Profile: Tim Hugo DCH
Interview with Secretary Connaughton DCH
Extension of Light Rail an Economic Development Opportunity Ann Flandermeyer
The Northern Virginia Megaproject: The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Expansion Alan Moore
Historic Highway One: A Photo Essay Krystle D. Weeks and James Gabele
Itâ€™s Still a Grand Old Flag Ward Smythe
The Final Ward
Bearing Drift on Energy
Graphic Image: DragonArtz Designs Correction: Last month's edition of Bearing Drift E-Zine incorrectly stated that Republican Congressional Candidate Scott Rigell had donated to Democrat Mark Warner's senatorial campaign. Rigell did not donate to the senate campaign, but did donate to Warner's gubernatorial campaign and subsequent inauguration.
BearingDrift.com/ Page 3
Letter from Bearing Drift In Virginia politics, getting from point A to point B could only be so difficult Virginians are a fickle bunch when it comes to transportation.
Big surprise then that Gov. Tim Kaine (who many say achieved his post based on Warner’s popularity) was still looking to pay for roads in 2007.
The ill-fated bill that year, H.B. 3202, used a combination of unelected regional We want the roads and rails, authorities and abusive but we have trouble figuring driver fees to scrape toout how to pay for it. gether a few dollars for a long-term, sustainable In 2002, both regional revenue source to maintain referenda (Northern Virginia that which gets us from and Hampton Roads) to raise point A to point B. the sales tax to pay for transportation failed and a It was found to be regional bond measure went unconstitutional. down to defeat in Prince William County. For the remainder of the Kaine administration, he In 2004, Gov. Mark Warner, failed to find any political the acclaimed “most popular consensus on transportation. governor ever” imposed the mother of all tax increases And, in the first year under ($1.5 billion annually), which Gov. Bob McDonnell, it does was supposed to help pay for not appear that transportroads. ation is going to be solved any time soon.
Transportation has long been an issue about which many talk, but about which very little is done.
Transportation has long been an issue about which many talk, but about which very little is done. The problem is that this is, well, a very complex problem. In this issue of the e-zine we interview three of the leading voices on the transportation discussion. There is no doubt that Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton, Del. Tim Hugo, and Hampton Roads Transit chief Phil Shucet have been and will continue to be at the center of the transportation debate, so their insights that that they provide here are invaluable. But transportation is not only about “getting you there”, it’s also partially an adventure, which is why we have a photo journal celebrating U.S. 1. Finally, transportation is more than roads – especially as the rail issue begins to heat up. I’m not even going to claim that this issue is all inclusive on the subject – I know there is much more that needs to Be written - but, at least we’re out of the driveway.
J.R. Hoeft email@example.com
Volume 1, Number 4 / July 2010
What Bearing Drift Readers Are Saying
Quick Quip Poor, poor Louisiana Two presidents. Two disasters. Each perfectly suited to their talents and experience. Wouldnâ€™t you know it: the oilman gets the hurricane and the blowhard gets the oil spill. The Right Wing Liberal, May 25, 2010
BearingDrift.com/ Page 5
Interstate 66 is finally getting a second look at widening the lanes, a long overdue development. We’ll wait for the sticker shock, though… ‘cause it’s not going to be pretty. Two words: General. Petraeus. In a rare moment of intellectual clarity, Senator Jim Webb voted against the “Tax Extenders Bill” which went down to a 45-52 defeat in the Senate. The bill would have given $140 billion in unemployment extensions and added $80 billion to the federal deficit.
YEAS Governor McDonnell sits pretty at a 63% approval rating… which given the national climate shifting radically away from President Barack Obama and several contested GOP races for U.S. House, is easy enough. Still, the steady stream of “jobs, jobs, jobs” is making an impact. Congratulations go out to Rob Wittman, Scott Rigell, Robert Hurt, Morgan Griffith, and Keith Fimian for winning their respective primaries. Not a bad line up when you consider their opposition... Another secret winner in the June 8th primaries? Chris LaCivita, whose candidates in both VA-02 and VA-05 carried the day. LaCivita was the lead consultant for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s win over Steve Shannon in 2009 and continues to be a major player. Speaking of Ken Cuccinelli, he continues to stick to his guns on the UVA investigative demand. Good for him… “the University” doth protest too much. President Obama threatens to “call their [Republicans] bluff” on the budget. House Republican Whip Eric Cantor’s response? “I’m not bluffing.” Brilliant. Federal courts overturn Obama’s ban on energy drilling. Drill, baby, drill!
Volume 1, Number 4 / July 2010
Virginia’s General Assembly gave back $5 million to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Whether this means Virginia will start adopting austerity budgets of its own come 2011 remains to be seen, but it’s a healthy development nonetheless. Virginia’s Tea Party movement may not have claimed many scalps this primary season (in fact, Virginia was the only black spot on an otherwise sterling record against establishment Republicans nationwide), but nationally they are seen as having the most robust organization in the 50 states. Much of that credit lies at the feet of Jamie Radtke of the Richmond Tea Party, whose diplomacy, experience and tact ensures she will remain a fixture in Virginia politics for some time.
NAYS Yet another nasty, nasty primary season for Republicans. Candidates who probably thanked their hatchet men in the weeks before the primary now rue their fanaticism, as in two critical races – Virginia’s 2nd and 5th Districts – find nominees with a plurality rather than a majority of base support and some difficulty riling them up after a bruising primary. Activists should be smarter than their emotions if they ever want to be more than backbenchers. Obama decides to squeeze private industry for a cool $20 billion. Ignore for just a moment who they squeezed the money from and whether or not it was deserved – does *any* president require a Bismarckian “Reptile Fund” to dole out? And where does the rule of law come into play?
Terry McAuliffe keeps popping up in the news. Please, make it stop!!! Another one that can go away for entirely different reasons is Catherine “Shoot a Few Congressmen, The Rest Will Sort Out” Crabill. That she even approached double digits in VA-01 is deplorable. Democratic challenger Krystle Ball successfully marginalized herself after issuing a bush-league attack on Rep. Rob Wittman and simultaneously ticking off the editorial pages of The Free Lance-Star. One doesn’t know whether to wince or applaud such a remarkable feat, but this Ball will more than likely not bounce back. Obviously, Bearing Drift is a center-right publication. Though we have no particular love for the policies of President Obama, the utter embarrassment of Obama’s mishandling of the BP Oil Spill is a huge downer for the American people. His Oval Office speech only served to remind America just how bungled this administration really has become. Democrat or Republican, it’s getting a bit ridiculous. Tea Parties seem to be fracturing in some locals, particularly in the Hampton Roads area where the Tea Party endorsement was much sought after. Whether the organization can overcome some of the bad blood remains to be seen.
BearingDrift.com/ Page 7
Legislator Profile: Delegate Tim Hugo By DCH commute time. That impacts my decisions - do I pick u BD: Delegate Hugo, welcome back to Bearing Drift. p a slug? Telework today? Work non-traditional hours? For our readers who don't know you, you were first elected to the House of Delegates in 2002. In your day Travel by metro or bus or drive? Metro or bus versus driving ... We have to evaluate our transportation and job, you serve as Executive Director of the Free File consequently our work and leisure decisions more in Alliance and your House colleagues recently choose you as Majority Caucus Chairman. This is the number congested suburban areas. Because of this reality, we three leadership post in the House and makes you the are more sensitive here in Northern Virginia to transportation issues. only member of leadership from Northern Virginia. Not only does your work take you between two capitols, We have a lot of work to do to manage congestion, Richmond and Washington, but you live with your especially in my area and Hampton Roads. We didn't family in congested Northern Virginia. So to jump right get into this situation quickly and we won't get out of in, how do your experiences qualify you to address the it quickly. We will need to think out of the box, unique transportation challenges of this region and encouraging marketplace incentives and telework beyond? opportunities wherever they make sense. Parts of TH: No matter how it is calculated, Northern Virginia Virginia government are actually very good at this. is one of the top three most congested areas in the For instance, the Department of Taxation has eliminated country. Traffic congestion impacts how we work, all of its Northern Virginia offices and its employeeâ€™s play and worship. All of us living here make decisions telework. It turns out that they are more satisfied with based on how long it will take to get from A to B. For this arrangement: productivity has increased and instance, I live 28 miles from my job. In some areas, turnover has decreased. that's 28 minutes. For me, it's an hour and a half of Volume 1, Number 4 / July 2010
BD: Speaking of that, why are businesses reluctant to embrace telework? We have a lot of work to do to manage TH: Well there's still a corporate culture that likes to congestion, especially in my area and see you. Employers may be concerned that people Hampton Roads. We didn't get into this aren't working if they can't physically come to your desk and look at what you are doing. But there are situation quickly and we won't get out excellent metrics for measuring productivity and if of it quickly. someone can be very productive in their home in Centreville, Loudoun, or Stafford, then why shouldn't they be? I telework a great deal to avoid traffic and my technology allows me to answer an email or modify a I can also mention that the Metro extension to Dulles is file from my back porch or the McDonald's parking lot. ongoing. Current expectations involve a completion date in 2020. The Wilson Bridge is being widened and BD: The Virginia Department of Transportation is HOT lanes expansion on 495 is moving forward. There facing an enormous and growing shortfall in funds has been a lot of progress - the missing piece is needed to cover scheduled transportation projects. improvement to 95/395 that Arlington County is Every delay makes the projects more expensive and yet blocking we don't have the funds to get them started. Can you summarize the General Assembly's work on transport- BD: Good news, apparently Commonwealth tax revenues have been stronger than anticipated. ation issues during the 2010 session and give us an TH: We are running ahead - 1 to 2 % over projections. idea of what you expect to occur next year? In addition, Governor McDonnell is trying to reduce TH: Well, we really are moving ahead. Governor inefficiencies in government and that frees up funds to McDonnell issued a call for half a billion dollars in new devote to priorities like transportation. transportation bonds. We are looking at public-private partnerships in order to stretch those dollars too. Work BD: Short and sweet, do you think tax increases are elsewhere is moving forward but Arlington County has necessary to address Northern Virginia's congestion sued the Commonwealth to halt the $3 billion HOT crisis? lanes project on 395. Really this is quite ridiculous and TH: No. This is not the time or place for a tax increase; petty on Arlington's part. Just to give you some backgovernment already spends too much and wastes too ground, Pierce Homer was (Democrat) Mark Warner's much. We need to be innovative in our solutions and Secretary of Transportation and they sued him in his aggressive in reducing government inefficiencies in official capacity. When Sean Connaughton took over order to address our transportation needs. as Governor McDonnell's Secretary of Transportation, we expected that Arlington County would transfer the BD: What do you think is the right balance for funding suit to him in his official capacity. Instead, they have between public transportation and private transportation continued to sue Mr. Homer as a private citizen over and who should decide on how those funds are allocated? the 395 HOT lanes project. This has an incredibly TH: I favor leaving as much decision making as possible chilling effect on official action if public servants can to the affected regions. There's a right regional balance expect to still be liable for attorney fees and penalties in different areas of Virginia: roads are priority in rural as a private citizen. In its suit against the Commonareas; more transit is helpful in areas like Northern wealth, Arlington alleges Stafford is an elitist haven Virginia & Hampton Roads. I worked in Congress on [that will benefit from the road construction at its transportation issues. Because of burdensome Federal expense] when, in fact, Arlington is less diverse and regulations, if you put one federal dollar into a project, more wealthy than Stafford. Chris Zimmerman, chairit can add 20-30% to its cost. That's yet another reason man of the Arlington Board of Supervisors, is the why state and local decision making puts people to biggest source of congestion in Northern Virginia right work and gets the job done faster and more efficiently. now. His lawsuit is holding up thousands of jobs and a three billion dollar project. Continued on Page 10 . BearingDrift.com/ Page 9
Legislator Profile: Delegate Tim Hugo Continued from Page 9 BD: Most of us have become accustomed to the fact that our commute is going to cost us dearly in time or money - or worse yet, both. Some of us are willing to pay a little extra in order to have a more predictable commute. What are the prospects for using market based solutions to address the congestion nightmare in Northern Virginia and/or other parts of the CommonWealth?
BD: Moving on to your new role in the House Republican Caucus: can you explain to our readers (a) what your job is as the caucus chairman, and (b) what specific goals do you personally bring to this job?
TH: As caucus chairman I help the speaker, majority leader and whip move forward with a conservative, pragmatic Republican agenda and help Governor McDonnell advance our goals: create jobs, arrest TH: I think HOT lanes will happen. This part of the congestion, and help the business community without solution is most effective when focused on adding new raising taxes. Specifically, I also serve as a subcapacity to existing roads because it forces people to committee chairman on both the Commerce and Labor make rational travel decisions based on the market. I and Finance committees. In those roles I do considerable think that's the way to proceed. I don't think HOT lanes work on jobs issues and on finance, working to protect are the solution, I think they are part of the solution - the taxpayer and create a healthy business climate. along with new roads, transit, telework, prioritizing transportation funding, and cutting spending in other areas. I'm in favor of all solutions except a tax increase.
Volume 1, Number 4 / July 2010
BD: Talk with us about redistricting. Looking ahead to the next session, how will the process work for redrawing district lines? Will the process be highly partisan or do you think an agreeable compromise will be easily reached? Geographically, what areas do you expect to gain and lose seats in the General Assembly? TH: Let me just say that we are going to try to work in a fair manner to make sure districts are created that are even in population. It's early in the process now but we'll know more once the census data is compiled. We are expecting a special session to address this issue in April or May of next year.
BD: Virginians are often cynical about politics and politicians. I'm sure you hear from plenty of angry constituents and face considerable pressure - especially during session and election seasons. Yet, you always seem to enjoy your job. How do you stay optimistic? TH: I am optimistic - partly that's in my nature but this really is a great country and a great state. I'm optimistic when I see 325 people show up to protest a day labor center, when I go to a Tea Party, when I see activism... Republicans, Independents, and Democrats who take time out of their schedules and show up at town hall meetings. I think people are awakened by what's going on nationally and that makes me optimistic. BD: Looking back on the last session, what piece of Listen - they are trying to close a school in my district. legislation that you carried or worked on stands out to 200 people showed up at 5 o'clock in the afternoon to you? How did it turn out and what made it worthwhile say "NO." I like it when people show up and make their or you? voices heard. I think the smart politicians listen. TH: Well, this is one the Washington Post editorial I think the tea party has had tremendous impact - and a board has attacked me for. By way of background, in positive one. my community, day laborers have been using our library and a local shopping center as a de facto day BD: Delegate Hugo, thank you again for joining us. labor center. Some women and families won't use the We at Bearing Drift wish you and your family a library anymore. Area businesses have been negatively wonderful summer! affected. In response, one Republican supervisor has TH: Thanks for what you are doing. I'm a big believer been trying to create a permanent day labor center in blogging. Going back to what I said about optimism, trailer and that has met with very mixed reactions. It's I think blogs are a return to what we had in the 1700s not the local solution I favor but I do believe this hundreds of opinions out there and small town comsituation should be able to be addressed at the local munity papers everywhere. It makes me a better citizen level. to be able to read, quickly - and whenever I want to So, I worked on a bipartisan measure this year to allow what a diverse group of active citizens are thinking about localities to regulate the sale of goods and services on any given issue. public roadways - including day labor services. This I think some of the main stream media had choked off really gives localities a regulatory tool that they can a diversity of thought and I think the new media is really use if they want to. Tom Rust sponsored the bill and a great service to the nation as a whole because it makes he and I worked with Senator Louis Lucas to pass it on people think and forces people to defend their arguments a bi-partisan basis. in the public square. You know, 325 people came out for a town hall meeting on this issue. I heard merchants who are legal BD: Yes, there's actually been talk about "bailing out" immigrants saying that the many illegal immigrants the newspaper industry lately because their business hiring out as day laborers in Centreville are harming model is failing. Is it important for the media to have business to the point that they may have to sell their government support? stores. I am hopeful Fairfax County will use this tool TH: There is no need for welfare for reporters. If to regulate day labor centers and maintain good newspapers, blogs, and TV can't stand on their own businesses and healthy neighborhoods. then something is wrong. If government starts subsidizing media, it will be exercising a form of control over the media. Blogs and entrepreneurial media provide a service and make people think about ideas. That's a very good thing. BearingDrift.com/ Page 11
Bearing Drift Interviews Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton By DCH
In January, Governor Bob McDonnell named Sean T. Connaughton to serve as Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth. As Secretary, he oversees seven state agencies with more than 9,700 employees and combined annual budgets of $4 billion. Bearing Drift was delighted to have the opportunity to interview Secretary Connaughton for our issue on Tranportation.
Volume 1, Number 4 / July 2010
BD: Welcome to Bearing Drift, Secretary Connaughton. We appreciate your taking a few moments to tell us about transportation progress in the Commonwealth. As the former Board of Supervisors Chairman in Prince William County, you know all about congestion in Northern Virginia - and now you have the unenviable task of addressing it during a financially challenging time for the Commonwealth. First of all, how are you approaching your new job? What are your priorities? SC: During his campaign, the Governor created a detailed transportation plan - 17 pages long. it is our goal to implement that plan, to cut costs and reduce bureaucracy. Virginians will be able to see some of our accomplishments in six months. right now, we are launching audits of all or our transportation programs. We have reconfigured the public-private partnership program and reissued the Route 460 proposal. We are moving forward on HOT lanes in the I-95/395 corridor, in fact Virginia just saw a partial victory in the lawsuit that is currently holding up HOT lanes progress.
BD: You've made it clear that raising taxes to pay for transportation needs is off the table for the McDonnell administration. What's on the table?
We are going to have a very healthy debate coming up about state and local roles in transportation funding.
SC: What's on the table is a reform of the way the government does business. We are currently in a multi-stage process to improve the efficiency of the Department of Transportation. We are looking at 150 possible changes to Virginia statures, 40 federal statutes that impact our decisions and state level regulations that could also be changed. Right now we are in the process of drawing up ideas for reform in all of these areas. We will post these ideas for public comment in stages and then turn them over to the Government Reform Commission. We'll be looking at the funding component in the fall and that will certainly be an area for robust debate.
The state portion of the financing for the project was satisfied by turning the Dulles Toll Road over to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA). The local commitment was atisfied with a regional commercial property tax.
BD: Talk with us about tolls. They are controversial: sometimes hated, yet undeniably lucrative. What role do you see tolls in reducing congestion and / or raising funds for transportation needs? The Commonwealth has long been interested n tolling parts of I-81. Recently, the federal government granted us that authority. Now you are seeking to transfer the authority to I-95 instead. Can you explain your reasoning for the change? Would the tolls be located at the borders of the Commonwealth or all along the interstate? SC: Well, the tolls would be at the border of the Commonwealth. The federal approval for tolling on I-81 was tied to construction of truck-tolling. That project is no longer viable, so we really aren't in a position to continue the tolling plan there. Instead the Governor has pledged to seek tolling authority for I-95. Right now we have $900 million in unfunded transportation projects lined up and all the toll revenues would be used to meet those needs. BD: Give us an update on rail in Northern Virginia: when is Metro expected to reach Dulles? What kind of long-term financial commitment to the Metro system is the Commonwealth looking at? SC: Right now, the first phase of the Metro extension is running on time and under budget. Rail is set to run beyond Dulles by 2013 and to Dulles airport by 2016.
BD: Do you see a role for HOT lanes / roads with congestion pricing in the Commonwealth's transportation plan? If yes, when? SC: If the Commonwealth is successful in defending against the suit brought by Arlington County, commuters could see construction beginning on the I-95/395 corridor in late 2011 or early 2012. BD: You recently spoke at a Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce breakfast and drew local media attention for suggesting that, since the Commonwealth does not have the resources to address a lot of local transportation needs, wealthier counties should step up and provide their own funding. Basically, only maintenance for primary roads is funded in the current plan and several projects are on hold. What can you tell us about a local funding strategy? Is the Commonwealth expecting localities to pick up the bill for needed projects and maintenance? Is this a temporary or long-term solution? SC: I was really surprised by the controversy and misunderstanding surrounding my statements there. Look, I was talking about subdivision road issues and, really, just stating the obvious. The state can't - and for some time hasn't been able to - fund the construction and maintenance of secondary roads. It is more than apparent that we need to re-examine the state / local relationship regarding these roads. Virginia is one of only two states where the state is responsible for all roads and we just aren't being able to keep up with it now, yet alone in the future. Government reform is a cornerstone for Governor McDonnell and we are going to have a very healthy debate coming up about state and local roles in transportation funding. BD: Thank you for joining us, Secretary Connaughton. Happy commuting! BearingDrift.com/ Page 13
Extension of Light Rail an Economic Development Opportunity By Ann Flandermeyer
With the recent hire of Phil Shucet as CEO of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), the City of Norfolk is fast on its way to completing construction of the only light rail project in Hampton Roads. Of the seven cities covered by HRT, Norfolk has invested the most and has the most public transit services. The City sees light rail as a solution for moving people to compliment and promote urban living. Shucet is charged with bringing the project to completion – on time and on budget. This would be based on the new timeframe and budget that had to be built after he was brought on to rescue the project. During development, the project had met with problem after problem. As he says, the project in Norfolk has to be finished, but either way, “it’s worth doing.” According to Shucet, light rail will change downtown Norfolk in a positive way and promote the goals that the city has set for itself. This project did not just happen overnight. The conversation began in the 90’s, and is now finally moving to completion. Multiple studies, a selection among alternative plans, preliminary engineering, final design, determination of funding and then finally construction are processes that can take a decade. The city of Virginia Beach is just beginning such processes. A full environmental impact study (EIS) was done years ago, and now HRT is conducting a supplemental EIS as a part of a broader study – the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study. T his study will include not only the environmental impact, but other information including cost estimates, alternative plans, recommendations for station locations, and estimated ridership. Virginia Beach is uniquely suited for the light rail extension, as it has already made arrangements to purchase the 10.6 mile
Volume 1, Number 4 / July 2010
Norfolk Southern right-of-way, an out-of-service rail line traveling directly East-West from Newtown Road to the Oceanfront area. Already having a location to put the light rail extension will mean ease of construction and avoiding multiple problems such as figuring out a complicated rail path, using eminent domain to obtain the property, and potential lawsuits that could accompany such action.
extend to the Norfolk Naval Base to cut down on commuter traffic. An estimated 80,000 cars a day travel to the base, creating major congestion. The scope of the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study includes a potential study of a light rail extension to the naval base, but this portion of the study is not currently funded.
Mike Barrett, President of Virginia Beach Vision and Chairman of the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance said, “It’s almost impossible to overstate how beneficial light rail will be to the business community.” He sees the incredible economic development that will naturally be built around each of the light rail stations. The city’s strategic growth areas mostly follow where the anticipated light rail stations will be. “The potential is in the billions of dollars in growth and development,” Barrett said, “and it’s quality growth and development.” By “quality growth and development”, Barrett is referring to redevelopment that would have to adhere to stricter environmental requirements. Lynnhaven River Now, an environmental group dedicated to restoring and protecting the Lynnhaven River, sees several ways where light rail can be a benefit. According to Executive Director Karen Forget, “Light rail in Virginia Beach could help to stimulate growth around the rail line reducing sprawl and reducing the need for new or expanded road ways and parking areas.” She then stated, “Most importantly, we believe that with advances in land use planning and the science and practice of storm water management that we can reduce pollution coming from the developed areas in our watershed.” In addition to economic development and environmental benefits, Virginia Beach City Councilman Glen Davis points out another important factor. “The military is Hampton Roads’ biggest employer,” he said, “and for them, it’s a readiness issue.” The Navy has sent a letter to City Council indicating its strong support for light rail. Ultimately the Navy would like to see light rail
An extension to the base would be years down the road, but as Barrett noted, “Light rail needs to connect to ODU, the airport, the naval base, but it never will go anywhere unless it connects to Virginia Beach first. This is where the riders live who want to get to those places.” And as Shucet noted, “it’s important to look at the entire opportunity for expansion.” As he sees it, creating an extension from Oceanfront to the Navy base would be “a game changer.” Davis also noted the important connection between light rail and high speed rail. Having a region united in pursuit of light rail will speak volumes when decisions are made, not only about bringing high speed rail to Hampton Roads, but also regarding its funding. “The perception is, if a region can’t come together on light rail, how can they come together to support high speed rail? So why should they give us grants?” Thelma Drake, head of the Department of Rail and Public T ransportation, believes that higher speed passenger rail could be making trips between Richmond and Norfolk in as little as three years. Continued on Page 16 BearingDrift.com/ Page 15
Extension of Light Rail an Economic Development Opportunity Continued from Page 13 Critics of a possible light rail extension say that it won’t be profitable and will require huge government subsidies. But as Davis points out, “every mode of transportation today is being subsidized, from the airports to the roads. Why not subsidize the form of transportation that is almost guaranteed to bring an increase in economic development?”
the federal level are extremely competitive, with the amount of funds appropriated being far less than the requests for projects to be funded.
Shucet sees the incredible importance of extending the light rail to Virginia Beach and beyond. “We’re building 7.4 miles [in Norfolk]. The effectiveness of those 7.4 miles will only be fully realized if light rail is extended to the large population centers.” As he sees Others say that no one will ride light rail, it will be merely empty cars shuttling back and forth. However, it, light rail needs to be a regional system, “it really fits the future of transportation. The future is not going to as Barrett pointed out, light rail has completely be another state interstate system.” revitalized downtown areas all over the country, including Charlotte, Phoenix and Denver. Davis noted, “We may not have the ridership today, but it isn’t built Barrett agrees, “The roads facilitated the economic today. We’re building this for the next generation who development in the past, but the Commonwealth is not spending money on them anymore. The future vision of will be riding it ten years from now.” transportation in Virginia Beach is focused on light rail.” Combining this with the economic development light rail The results of the Virginia Beach study, which will be will bring, Barrett sees it as a win-win for Virginia Beach, done in early 2011, will be presented to City Council and enter a long process including public hearings and “We’re on our way out of the recession right now, the investors are ready. Light rail is the stimulus.” the securing of funding sources. Available monies at
Volume 1, Number 4 / July 2010
BearingDrift.com/ Page 17
The Northern Virginia Megaproject: The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Expansion By Alan Moore
The Dulles Corridor Metrorail project is the most extensive and expensive transportation venture currently in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The northern Virginia plan will extend the Metrorail 23 miles from East Falls Church to the Dulles International Airport in Loudoun County. It will include 11 new stations including stops in hotspots and business hubs like Reston and Tyson’s Corner. With construction underway, this megaproject has been the brainchild of area transportation officials since Dulles Airport was constructed in 1958. After many failed proposals and setbacks, the vision of so many individuals and governing boards is finally becoming a reality.
The airport is also expanding to accommodate more customers as the region continues to grow. Dulles Development (D2) was approved in 2000 and consists of a number of projects like a new Air Traffic Control Tower, more runways, two new parking garages, and an underground train system to connect terminals. The total cost of the Metrorail expansion is projected at $5.25 billion with the biggest chunk of $900 million coming from the federal government. Virginia will pay 5.2%, or approximately $275 million. Local governments must pay for a quarter of the project and the rest of the funding will come from Dulles Toll Road revenues. Rep. Gerry Connolly was also able to steer an earmark to the project so it would receive close to $85 million sooner rather than later.
In March of last year construction officially kicked off. The project is broken down into two major phases. Phase one will extend the Orange Line through Tyson’s Corner and one stop in Reston. That phase is expected As with any government project, funding is always the to be finished by 2013. 21 different utilities will have to most contentious component. In 2008 the federal be relocated in Tyson’s Corner alone. Phase two will government pulled support for the project, leaving a extend the Metrorail from Reston and Herndon to the gap of almost $1 billion. At the time the head of the Dulles Airport. There is no official construction date for Federal Transit Administration, James Simpson, labeled that as of yet but it is generally assumed that it will be the project as not a “prudent investment.” Many elected officials felt that the project was dead and completed in 2016. further attempts to attain that type of funding was futile. The project was first approved in 2002 by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB). Federal approvals hinged on an Environmental Impact Statement, which was approved in 2005. The construction is managed by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA). Volume 1, Number 4 / July 2010
Then Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax) was jubilant over the decision, "I have to tell you, I am pleased for the sake of the taxpayers that it appears that rail to Dulles is on its deathbed," Cuccinelli said at a news conference. "This is something we have to put behind us if we are going to move ahead with actual transportation solutions that reduce congestion in Northern Virginia." Officials like Cuccinelli and Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) felt that the project was too expensive and a major burden on Virginia taxpayers. â€œGiven the continued cost escalations and the uncertainty of possible future cost escalations associated with this project, we must abandon the Metro to Dulles project and come up with an alternate plan,â€? Marshall said. They agreed that transportation is a major problem in northern Virginia but believed that alternatives were better suited to handle the problem. One of those alternatives that gained a lot of steam was a bus rapid transit system funded by public-private partnerships.
Also at issue was a major setback in funding coming from the Commonwealth owned Dulles Toll Road. Since over half the project was to be funded by Dulles Toll Road revenues, this aspect of the project had to be secured. In a major blunder, Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) transferred the road to the MWAA without approval from the General Assembly. In 2008 the Virginia Supreme Court allowed a lawsuit to continue that challenged this move. In October 2008 the case was dismissed by a state judge. However, with the Supreme Court decision on the books, opposition is emboldened. While it is probably safe to assume that the Metrorail expansion will proceed until it is finished, a new funding source may have to be found as similar lawsuits are pending. In a worse case scenario the General Assembly would have to approve the plan and at this stage in the game it would be difficult to vote against something already so far in motion. Continued on Page 20
BearingDrift.com/ Page 19
The Northern Virginia Megaproject: The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Expansion Continued from Page 17 Some officials felt tolls needed to be raised to fund the project just so long as they were not intolerable. "My concern is not if they raise the toll but how high they raise it," said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors member Pat Herrity (R-Springfield). "We don't want to strangle the Dulles corridor. We don't want employers not building around the toll road, and we certainly don't want employees avoiding the toll road because the tolls are too high." After intense pressure and a full court press from local officials like Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10) and Rep. Tom Davis (R-11) â€“ the FTA funding commitment was restored in March, 2009. $900 million would go to help fund phase 1 and the project was back on track. Led by the Western Alliance for Rail to Dulles (WARD) a tax district was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in late 2009 to help pay the commitment made by Fairfax. $330 million in funding is expected to be raised from landowners to help construct the rail stations in Reston and Herndon. Residential landowners are exempt and there have been at least two court challenges against this tax district. FFW Enterprises sued the Fairfax County Government in circuit court and lost. They have since appealed the decision and the Virginia Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in April. Their main argument is the Virginia Constitution states that all taxes must be uniform, and special tax districts are therefore unconstitutional. The Dulles Corridor Users Group has also filed suit to fight against the special tax district. If the required funds are not raised in the special tax districts, Fairfax County may still need to pay the bill through other means. Commercial landowners will be initially charged five cents per $100 of property value. That tax is supposed to increase to 20 cents by 2013.
Volume 1, Number 4 / July 2010
Photos by Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project
Chief among the reasons for concern is the tax district does not automatically end when funds reach a certain threshold. Having the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors vote to end the tax district will be a major battle for another day. That battle could be similar to the District of Columbia where the local government raised taxes to pay for the Washington Nationals Stadium. Now instead of relinquishing that tax they are using it to pay off other debts. Since only a minute amount of landowners are affected by this tax it will be difficult to sway public opinion to pressure the Board to give up the tax. Even though over 60% of the landowners signed on to support this tax increase, they may have gotten more than they bargained.
undertaking that will take years to complete. With all megaprojects they always tend to cost more than anticipated. There almost certainly will be missed deadlines, cost overruns, labor issues, more court battles, higher taxes, and bruised egos. Not finishing the project will not be an option. However, if costs overrun too much, that could prevent other parts of the state from getting funding for repairs and their own projects. Many detractors have compared the project t o the Boston, Massachusetts Big Dig boondoggle which had projected costs of $2.6 billion but with interest, came closer to $22 billion. State taxpayers and toll road users were originally slated to pay around $345 million but ended up shelling out a staggering $18 billion.
Another contentious issue is the new rail lines will be almost completely above ground. This will cause more traffic delays during construction with the dismantling of often accessed roads. Some say it will also be unsightly to residents. TysonsTunnel, Inc. is a group that attempted to explore legal options to put the metro underground, but so far nothing has come from it.
However it might not be fair to compare the Dulles Metrorail project with the Big Dig this early in the actual construction. If its supporters are correct then it will greatly open up one of the most severely congested areas in the country. Businesses will thrive with better access and transportation. Property values will go up and a lot of people will become prosperous.
The Dulles Corridor Metrorail project is a massive
With every potential reward comes great risk. Only time will tell how painful or fruitful this project will become.
BearingDrift.com/ Page 21
Historic Route 1: A Bearing Drift Photo Essay Before the arrival of the Interstate system, the way to head North, or South from V irginia was U.S. Highway 1, a thread of highway stretching from Maine to the Florida Keys. On May 11, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling announced a new Historic Route 1 streetscape tourism project which includes banners, a welcome sign and landscaping along Historic Route 1. Speaking at an event at the Historic Half-Way House Restaurant in Chester, the Lt. Governor said, “There are a lot of beautiful communities and wonderful things to see in Virginia, but to see many of them you have to get off the Interstate and explore the back roads. Historic Route 1 is a perfect example of this.” Route 1 crosses the 14th Street Bridge in Washington, D.C. and enters Virginia in the City of Alexandria. It travels due south through Fredericksburg, Richmond, Petersburg and heads into North Carolina just below South Hill. In the early 1900s, the United Daughters of the Confederacy launched an effort to name the roads following the path that is now U.S. Highway 1 as the Jefferson Davis Highway. The General Assembly gave it the official designation in 1922. This past Session, the General Assembly gave the Route the official designation of “Historic Route 1.” Bearing Drift To find out more about the designation and about the highway from Maine to Florida, visit Historic Route One. Volume 1, Number 4 / July 2010
Historic Route 1 enters Virginia on the shores of the Potomac River in Alexandria. The City was founded in 1749 and because of it's history and architechture is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fredericksburg. Photo by Krystle D. Weeks
Historic Occoquan Photo: Virginia Tourism Corporation
Captain John Smith journeyed up the Rappahannock in August 1608 to just below the fall line at modern-day Fredericksburg. Photo: Krystle D. Weeks
Photo: James Gabele
Photo: James Gabele
BearingDrift.com/ Page 23
Historic Route 1: A Bearing Drift Photo Essay Continued Wine, being among the earliest luxuries in which we indulge ourselves, it is desirable that it should be made here and we have every soil, aspect and climate of the best wine countries. â€“ Thomas Jefferson James River Cellars, Photo: Krystle D. Weeks Photo: James Gabele
Caroline County Photos: Krystle D. Weeks
Volume 1, Number 4 / July 2010
Photograph of the main eastern theater of war, the siege of Petersburg, June 1864-April 1865. Photo: John Reekie
Ashland, The “Center of the Universe” Photo: Krystle D. Weeks
The Historic Half-Way House located on Route 1 in Chester was built in The Half Way House was built in 1760 on a grant of land from George II of England, by a patent dated 1743.
The Town of South Hill
BearingDrift.com/ Page 25
It’s Still a Grand Old Flag By Ward Smythe On the day after Cinco de Mayo, cable news, talk radio, and the Internet were all abuzz with the story from Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, California where five students Daniel Galli, Austin Carvalho, Matt Dariano, Dominic Maciel, and Clayton Howard chose to wear American flag t-shirts and bandanas to school. Some of the Mexican students complained and Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez ask the boys to turn their shirts inside out. When they refused, they were threatened with suspension. They chose instead to leave school for the day. If you’re old enough to remember the 70’s or before, you know that there was a time when wearing the American flag as clothing was viewed as disrespectful. I have an American flag tie from that era. Actually it belonged to my older brother. At the time it was considered a form of protest. The one I acquired some thirty years later, in the post 9/11 world, is an expression of patriotism. Times and ideas change. Following the attacks of that September morning in 2001, the American flag appeared everywhere. On houses, trucks, clothing, lapels. It was about our freedom. It was about standing together as a nation. But to Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez, the American flag is "incendiary.” All because those five boys chose to wear it on Cinco de Mayo, a date that recognizes Mexico’s defeat of the French in a single battle. But a battle in a war that Mexico lost. It’s not about Mexican independence. It’s not a national holiday in Mexico. And, for most Americans, it’s about the beer. All that being said, I would have supported Mr. Rodriguez if he’d only told the boys wearing bandanas to remove them. Not because they carried the image of the American flag. But because they have no business wearing bandanas on their head while in school. But, I digress. The following day, around 200 Mexican students Volume 1, Number 4 / July 2010
walked out of class in protest. They marched down the street with the Mexican flag and demanded the boys be suspended. Rather than threaten these apparently non-incendiary students with discipline, the district superintendent promised a rap-session so that they could express their feelings. What? They weren’t expressing their feelings when they walked out? Again, I digress. One young woman said that wearing the American flag on Cinco de Mayo was the same as Mexicans wearing the Mexican flag on the Fourth of July. We repeat. Cinco de Mayo = Not Independence Day. Fourth of July = Independence Day. Live Oak sophomore Jessica Cortez said, "It's disrespectful to do it on Cinco de Mayo. They can be a patriot on some other day. Not that specific day." A week later, yet again in California, a Salinas middle school student said that her teacher stopped her from drawing the American flag because it was “offensive.” The same teacher praised another student’s drawing of Barack Obama. What? Nobody’s offended that he’s the President? Sorry, I’m digressing again. How did we get to this point? How did we get from that Star Spangled Banner waving over the land of the free and home of the brave to declaring the very depiction of Old Glory as offensive? Maybe it’s because we have an Administration who directs that the American flag not be flown over American military operations. In the recent response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the United States, as she has done for generations, arrived on the seen with humanitarian aid delivered in great part by our American military. But the Obama Administration said that flying the American flag in Port-au-Prince could send the
wrong idea. They feared that it would send the signal that the U.S. Is an occupying force, rather than on a mission of humanitarian relief. It is absolutely disgraceful that any of these events occurred. It does an incredible disservice to the men and women who have given their lives to fight in defense of the freedom we share in this country. How did we get here? The design of our flag came together in 1776 and Betsy Ross sewed the first version in May of that year. In June, 1777, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: "Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation." Symbolism runs deep in colors of the flag: Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice. Over the years the number of stars in the field of blue has grown as each state entered the Union. The 50th star for Hawaii in 1959. The flag has flown over our government buildings, over our schools, from our front porches and stands as a symbol, a reminder of our freedom. It was raised in triumph on Iwo Jima. It was skated round the ice as the U.S. Hockey team scored an amazing victory over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics. It was raised above the ashes of the World Trade Center. It has draped the coffins of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for that freedom. Yes, the flag has been abused, spit upon and burned, by our enemies, and by our own citizens. But it remains the banner of our nation. This great nation that Ronald Reagan spoke of as “that shining city on a hill:”
2001 Photo by Thomas E. Franklin
“I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still” (Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address, January 11, 1989). The American flag flies above that city. Long may she wave! It is beyond time that all American children, European-American, MexicanAmerican, African-American, Asian-American or Kid-Down-The-StreetAmerican, be taught to respect and appreciate our American flag. Celebrate any heritage you so desire. But celebrate with the understanding that you do so as an American - on American soil. Under the protection and freedoms symbolized by the American flag.
1980 Photo by Heinz Kluetmeier
And to Miss Cortez, a gentle reminder. That flag you so despise is the very symbol of the freedom you so desire. BearingDrift.com/ Page 27
The Final Ward Snarkery and Cartoons from Ward Smythe & Friends.
Volume 1, Number 4 / July 2010
Primary Night â€“ VPOD 96: Scott Rigell
Now available at Red Store Virginia.
It's summer, so it's time to hit the road! Virginia Politics On Demand looks at transportation in the Commonwealth. Explore U.S. 1, with p...