Fairfax County officials are taking exception to a Washington Examiner editorial headlined, â€œAirports authority head lied, and transparency died.â€ The editorial takes Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Chairman Charles Snelling to task for saying it was “beyond dispute” that the project to extend Metrorail to Dulles Airport was “on time and on budget.”
It’s neither, the editorial claimed, going on to say that “Fairfax County taxpayers are responsible for all Phase I cost overruns, which are now approximately $240 million to cover the six-month delay.”
It’s no doubt a fine editorial as such things go, but a statement issued by Fairfax County Director of Public Affairs Merni Fitzgerald says the editorial contains several serious factual errors.
“The Examiner is entitled to its own opinions but not its own facts,” Fitzgerald said.
This opinion piece stated, â€œFairfax County taxpayers are responsible for all Phase I cost overruns, which are now approximately $240 million to cover the six-month delay.â€ There is nothing factual about this statement, Fitzgerald said, labeling it “speculation.”
“The Dulles rail project is very complex, and it remains to be seen whether or not it is completed on time since maintenance of the schedule is dependent on numerous factors, and mitigation measures are already underway to address any potential delays,” Fitzgerald said.
But more bothersome, she said, are the “stated falsehoods about funding responsibilities.” In fact, she said, MWAA, Loudoun and Fairfax Counties will pay 4.1, 4.8, and 16.1 percent respectively of the total project cost; the remaining 75 percent comes from the Dulles Toll Road and state and federal funding.
“Bottom line: Fairfax County taxpayers would only be responsible for a portion (16.1 percent) of any Phase I cost overruns, and in fact, there are no cost overruns to date,” Fitzgerald said.