Thursday, November 15, 2007

Not the Way to Build a Railroad

This -- "Dulles Metrorail project to begin despite concern with federal funds" -- has got to be the most screwed up way to build a major infrastructure project one could ever imagine:
Work will begin on the Dulles Metrorail extension in Tysons Corner even before the fate of a crucial $900 million in federal funds has been determined, officials said Wednesday.

The move, to begin utility relocation along Route 7, commits Virginia more deeply than ever to a transit line whose funding remains uncertain.


MWAA green-lighted the utility design work because of terms of a contract with Bechtel and Washington Group that required Virginia to pay a fee of several million dollars if the project did not move forward by Aug. 1, officials said.

"There were activities that were undertaken at the request of the airports authority by [Bechtel and Washington Group], basically to keep the contractors busy so the cost penalties were not incurred," said Virginia Transportation Secretary Pierce Homer.

Fairfax County Supervisor-elect John Foust worried that commitment may be an attempt to create "an air of inevitability" for the project. Foust supports the scuttled plan to build a tunnel, not an aerial rail under Tysons, as well as putting the entire project out for competitive bidding.

Brilliant, huh? Congratulations to Frank Wolf for his role in this debacle.

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