Fairfax chamber backs makeover for Dulles Rail board

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Photo - The under-construction Silver Line. (Examiner file photo)
The under-construction Silver Line. (Examiner file photo)
Local,Virginia,Transportation,Taylor Holland

Fairfax County business leaders on Wednesday endorsed a proposal to restructure the agency in charge of the $6 billion Dulles Rail project and for Virginia to take control of what is now a regional board.

The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce said legislation proposed by Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., to dramatically revamp the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is needed given the authority's "questionable decision making."

The authority has been under fire from state, local and federal officials for its handling of the rail project, its lavish spending on international travel, and lucrative no-bid contracts it awarded to former board members.

"As the events of the past two years have clearly shown, the MWAA board lacks transparency and accountability," said Chamber President and CEO Jim Corcoran. "It is not in Virginia's interest to have this board in its current structure running Northern Virginia's airports and the Dulles Metrorail Project, which are critical to the future economic vitality of the region."

The airports authority is jointly run by Virginia, Maryland the District and the federal government. It oversees Washington Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, both of which are in Virginia. It also was put in charge of the $6 billion rail project, which will extend Metro's Silver Line to Dulles, and the Dulles Toll Road, whose revenues will help fund the rail line.

With the authority playing such a pivotal role in areas critical to the state's economy, Virginia officials said it's only logical that they have greater control over it.

"Would somebody in Maryland want us to run [Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport]? No way," Wolf told The Washington Examiner on Wednesday, a day after his legislation was endorsed by both of the state's U.S. Senate candidates, Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine.

"There's no controversy here," Wolf said, "unless you favor dysfunction."

Authority spokesman Rob Yingling said the regional character of the authority's board is crucial to serving "the best interest of the traveling public and the regional economy."

"We encourage the stakeholders to work cooperatively when considering changes to the authority business model," he said.

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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