Share

Regional officials back airports authority in Dulles feud

|
Local,Liz Essley
The Metropolitan Council of Governments overcame the bitter complaints of Virginia representatives Wednesday and voted to oppose the state's attempt to restructure the board that oversees the Dulles Rail project.

The council, on a 16-3 vote, approved a resolution opposing legislation that would give Virginia a majority on the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the board in charge of the $6 billion project whose members are actively fighting the membership change.

With that vote, the council is effectively siding with the airports authority in its fight with state and local officials over control of the massive public works project. The three dissenting votes were cast by Virginia representatives.

Virginia officials began pressing for greater control over the authority after MWAA earlier this year approved an expensive underground Metro station for Washington Dulles International Airport over the objections of state and local entities that are paying for it.

"There was a very strong impression in that period that we were not being represented at all," said Loudoun County Supervisor Andrea McGimsey. "Frankly, a few [MWAA board members] were just downright rude."

Fairfax County Board Chairwoman Sharon Bulova agreed, saying MWAA didn't listen.

"I felt dismissed when calling members of the MWAA board," she said. "There wasn't the sensitivity there needed to be."

Still, even Northern Virginia officials who have butted heads with the airport authority don't necessarily want to see the board's membership changed.

"There's been an arrogance toward local governments, but an expansion of the board would not change that," said Fairfax County Supervisor Penny Gross, who joined Bulova in siding with MWAA to oppose the bill.

D.C. and Maryland officials oppose changing the authority's membership, saying their jurisdictions would suffer with less representation.

"To pack the board is anti-regional," D.C. Councilman Phil Mendelson said.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., who introduced the legislation that would change the authority's membership, didn't attend Wednesday's meeting. His spokesman, Dan Scandling, defended the bill.

"Congressman Wolf believes the changes are in the best interest of the commonwealth and the region, contrary to what MWAA believes," Scandling said. "We've done this at the direction of the governor and continue to work with the governor's office."

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment