Allen says state must pay more for Dulles Rail

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Photo - Republican candidate, George Allan at a senatorial debate for the Virginia U.S. Senate seat, Thursday, September 20, 2012
Republican candidate, George Allan at a senatorial debate for the Virginia U.S. Senate seat, Thursday, September 20, 2012
Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

Republican George Allen said Tuesday that Virginia will have to pay more for the Metrorail line to Washington Dulles International Airport if it's going to avoid huge increases in Dulles Toll Road fees, a claim that puts the U.S. Senate candidate at odds with the state's Republican administration.

Allen also took shots at his Democratic opponent, Tim Kaine, for "misleading" the public with promises of additional federal funding for the rail line, which Allen said is unlikely.

"The state's going to have to pitch in, and I think the state can pitch in more," Allen said during a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Examiner.

Kaine adds $3m to air war
Democrat Tim Kaine announced Tuesday another $3 million ad buy in Virginia's U.S. Senate race, raising to 7.5 million the total he's spending as the campaign enters its final weeks against Republican George Allen.
Kaine purchased $4.5 million in television air time earlier this year, a move his campaign said reserved space in a saturated market and saved them money. The more recent buy includes advertising purchases for TV, radio and the Internet.
"The same incredible grassroots support that allowed us to make an early and strong investment in television advertisements this fall, has enabled our campaign to increase its capacity to share Gov. Kaine's message throughout the commonwealth," said Kaine spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine.
- Steve Contorno

Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican and Allen supporter, blocked attempts by Senate Democrats earlier this year to add $300 million in the state budget for the Silver Line. His administration also repeatedly rebuffed the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the board overseeing the project, in its requests for more state funding.

"There are other revenue sources being looked at," said Thelma Drake, director of rail and public transportation for the state.

While Allen is at odds with McDonnell over how much the state is going to have to pay for the rail project, he did back the governor's efforts to force the airports authority to drop its preference for contractors using union labor and to oust a union executive, appointed by Kaine, from the authority board.

This is the second time Allen has pitted himself against McDonnell on transportation issues. Allen criticized McDonnell last month for proposing to put tolls on Interstate 95 south of Richmond.

The $6 billion Dulles Rail project began when Kaine was governor, and tolls on the Dulles Toll Road are set to rise dramatically in coming years to help pay for it.

Kaine worked with President George W. Bush's administration  to secure nearly $1 billion in federal grants to help pay for the first phase of the Silver Line.

Kaine said Monday in Fairfax that he would seek more federal funding for the rail project.

"As hard as I fought to make Phase 1 a reality," Kaine said, "I will fight every bit as hard if I'm in the U.S. Senate to have federal participation and state participation, too, in Phase 2 funding so that we get it done."

Allen has criticized Kaine for giving the airports authority control over the Dulles Toll Road as part of a deal in which the authority took over control of the rail line project. Allen supported shifting responsibility for the Silver Line to the authority at the time.

Allen said Congress' budget slashing and its ban on earmarks will make securing federal funding for the rail project far more difficult.

"It would have to compete with any other mass transit funding anywhere else in the country," Allen said. "So for anyone to say there's going to be an earmark for it is uninformed or misleading."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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