Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New Air Traffic Tower Opens at Dulles; How About Metro, Frank?

I'm glad to see that a new air traffic control tower has opened at Dulles Airport. The Fairfax County Times article quotes Frank Wolf as "reminisc[ing] about how Dulles was once considered to be 'way out' from the city, a laughingstock when it opened in 1962 for those who thought the airport would never see any measure of success."

Well, today "Dulles ranks as the 14th busiest airport in the nation and is poised to grow even further," with "over 20 million passengers who travel through Dulles each year" and "passenger volumes [that] are expected to more than double by 2025." That's great, except for one problem: how the heck are those 40 million people per year going to get to and from the airport? Are they all going to drive their cars, bringing complete gridlock to the Dulles corridor? Or, will we finally see Metro to Dulles built?

On that latter question, the issue right now is very simple: leadership. The fact is, the vast majority of northern Virginians want to see Metro to Dulles, but they also want to see it done right. That means three things: 1) competitive bidding to get the best price available; 2) a tunnel in Tysons, so the region can benefit from the "smart growth" that will flow from that; and 3) an open, transparent process that involves the public in all aspects of this tremendously important project. Sad to say, Frank Wolf has failed the people of the 10th district on all three of those points: 1) a no-bid deal to "Big Dig" Bechtel; 2) a disruptive, penny-wise-pound-foolish and anti-smart-growth "aerial" option in Tysons; and 3) secrecy and evasiveness from Wolf and other political leadership on this multi-billion-dollar, hundred-year project.

Unfortunately, Frank Wolf is like an aircraft carrier; once he makes up his mind on something, he doesn't change it, even if the facts indicate that he should do so. That's the case with the Iraq War, and that's the case with Metro to Dulles. Today, there's great technology that can drill tunnels quickly and cost effectively, yet Wolf doesn't even want to consider that option. Instead, Wolf apparently prefers the overpriced and wildly unpopular no-bid Bechtel deal for an aerial option in Tysons. Why is that? Does Frank Wolf not care what his constituents think anymore, after all these years in Congress? Or does he simply have other priorities? One really starts to wonder...

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