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RCA Calls MWAA Public Hearings 'a Sham'

Citizens' group says Metro does not really want to hear public input on toll increases.

 "are a sham" and a marketing exercise.

MWAA has scheduled three area hearings, including one on Sept. 12 at to collect citizen feedback on planned increases for the Dulles Toll Road that will help finance Metro's Silver Line, currently under construction.

RCA says MWAA should call the meetings a "public show and tell."

“RCA is deeply disappointed in MWAA’s cynical plan to give the appearance of soliciting public comment without any of the substance,” RCA President Colin Mills said in a statement. “Even though MWAA claims to be interested in hearing the public’s opinion, MWAA’s plan for the hearings does not lay out a clear agenda, and seems more like a forum for the public to walk through and, at best, ask MWAA staffers questions one‐on‐one. These meetings are ‘public hearings’ in name only.”

Tammi Petrine, an RCA Board member and co‐chair of its Reston 2020 Committee calls MWAA's board "ethically challenged."

“The ethically challenged MWAA Board of Directors, a public entity, seems to believe it can avoid dealing with the public," she said in a statement. "It thinks these annual displays of MWAA’s progress are sufficient to keep the public informed and at bay. The Board, in particular, has shown  no indication that it is prepared, much less wishes, to deal with a public outraged with the forecast tripling of tolls over the next six years, and more later.”"

Terry Maynard September 02, 2012 at 09:18 PM
The Reston 2020 meeting will be held at RA headquarters. As Tammi says, it will be on September 10 at 7PM. We welcome all inputs.
Rob Whitfield September 03, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Recall that the article's theme was that RCA called the Dulles Toll Road toll increase public hearings "a sham." They are. MWAA has repeatedly failed to explore tolling options such as time of day pricing and free 3 person carpools which were permitted under a General Assembly bill passed a decade ago but never implemented. They are "studying" open road tolling which would facilitate variable toll pricing. Because MWAA's Board is controlled by inside the Beltway members, it has refused to study more equitable Dulles Rail funding arrangements. For the Tysons message poster, Dulles Toll Road users have already paid over $1 billion in tolls since 1984 -with our after tax money. The diversion of toll road funds by MWAA for an infeasible heavy rail project is an illegal tax by a body that does not have taxing authority. The present rail funding plan was never approved by a political body such as the General Assembly or Congress. No evidence has been offered to show that: "The majority of the trips are east-west going to job centers." Nor is there evidence to support the claim that: "The project would have cost Virginia 2.8 billion over 5 years." In summer 2005, then under Governer Mark Warner, five proposals to privatize the Dulles Toll Road were made to VDOT under the public private partnership state law. Within a month of Tim Kaine being elected Governor in November 2005, the existing proposals being considered were ignored in favor of a MWAA takeover.
Navid Roshan September 03, 2012 at 12:57 PM
There is currently a massive plate tracking operation to determine exactly where everyone drives in that corridor by VDOT. Beyond that, you gotta be kidding me. OF COURSE the traffic is east-west to job locations. People dont wake up at 7 am to just go for a leisurely drive. A person has to simply look at where the jobs are (Reston, Tysons, Arlington, DC in that order) and where people live (Tysons, Reston, Ashburn in that order) to figure out that people from outer suburbs in mass drive east each morning and stop either at Reston (less likely) Tysons (more likely) Arlington/DC (very likely) to know that is exactly the toll pattern. Or you could just drive the toll road, which is what I did for 4 years when I lived in Herndon and see that the extremely congested road stayed congested atleast to 495, and very much to 123 where many got off because of HOV requirements on 66. I totally agree that the MWAA privatization has likely ended up as a bad decision, but then again I DONT. As you said it would have required state approval. The state is a socialist body which is returning 19 cents on the dollar to NOVA and disapproves of all things mass transit (see the Norfolk light rail). If you think the Silver line was penny wise pound foolish under the approved plan... lets just say it would likely be a bus line if it were up to the GOP in Richmond
Gene September 03, 2012 at 02:29 PM
The problem is that the entire area needs to be involved to solve commuter issues, the biggest offender is the Federal Government since that is what drives the vast majority of the business growth the area has seen. Time and again the feds force large campus mentality instead of dispersed smaller campuses. I would also suggest that the area on each side of the toll road from Whiele Ave to Rt. 28 probably employs as many people or close to it as you find in Tysons. And for tysons there is a danegrous trend towards vacating the area for areas west. Community leaders need to team with business leaders to plan for this growth, not politicians, and it needs to include open input from taxpayers. Input from those considering moving to the area is less useful than those that alerady liver, work, and pay taxes here it's our community. Greedy developers need to be put in check, every time you hear public/private partnership dig deeper and find out the real story. Sorry for the Rant - Gene
Rob Whitfield September 03, 2012 at 03:20 PM
The business community has mostly sat on its hands on Dulles Rail issues and toll increases during the last four years. AAA Mid Atlantic and the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce made known their opposition to the toll funding plan last month. Thanks to them. Most businesses seem to have been guided by local Chambers of Commerce rail project boosters without regard to potential adverse economic and fiscal impacts of the present rail funding plan. Last year I asked the heads of Greater Reston Chamber, Dulles Area Chamber and Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce to state publicly what level of toll increases they support to pay for Dulles rail. None of them responded. I sat next to Kurt Krause, current Chairman of the Loudoun County Chamber Board at a lunch meeting several months ago. We agreed on most issues that we discussed until I asked Kurt: "What level of toll increases does the Loudoun Chamber support?" He responded: "We don't have to answer that question." In a way he is correct. It should be for MWAA and our politicians to be held accountable but it hardly demonstrates leadership by the business community. Fed workers account for over 40% of peak period Metrorail riders, which is likely why WMATA abolished the "peak of the peak" fares this summer. The WMATA Board, like the MWAA Board, has zero public accountability. Recent MWCOG studies show that Metrorail is likely to serve only 20% of commuters. Their study showed only 8% of Restonians use transit presently.

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