The Metrorail extension to Dulles Airport was the focus yesterday as Senate candidates Tim Kaine and George Allen continued to air their competing views of the world.
Kaine, the Democratic former governor, held a roundtable discussion in Reston with Northern Virginia leaders on the future of Dulles Rail. As governor, Kaine got construction started on Phase I of Dulles Rail following decades of inaction.
Kaine reminded his audience that he worked with Virginia’s bipartisan congressional delegation and the Bush Administration to secure federal funding to get the project off the drawing board. And Kaine said he has made infrastructure investments a central part of his economic vision and has pledged to fight for federal support for Dulles Rail if he is elected to the U.S. Senate.
A rare compliment
Kaine not only credited the Bush administration for awarding more than $900 million in federal aid for the projectâ€™s first phase, he also complimented Allen for supporting the project when he was in the Senate but warned against “an anti-investment, anti-infrastructure mentality that has crept into politics.â€
Allen, the Republican former governor who is running to regain his seat in the Senate, didn’t speak directly on the topic but his campaign distributed statements by Virginia Delegates Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax) and Barbara Comstock (R-McLean) criticizing what they called “the ongoing mismanagement, skyrocketing tolls and cost overruns associated with the project are a direct result of the decisions that Tim Kaine made as governor.”
“It was Tim Kaine’s decision as Governor that turned management of the Dulles Rail project over to the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) in the first place – a decision that has resulted in jobs and contracts being sent out of Virginia,” Hugo said in a prepared statement. “It was Tim Kaine’s decision to use tolls from the Dulles Toll Road as Virginia’s portion of funding to pay for it – even though it was known at the time that the tolls would eventually be enormous without other state funds to mitigate them.”
“And it was Tim Kaine’s appointees to the MWAA who advanced Project Labor Agreements that ‘stack the deck’ in favor of union companies – while adding millions in additional costs,” Hugo said.
“Governor Kaine appointed the MWAA Board Member, Dennis Martire, who has been the ringleader for pushing special union preferences on the contract in violation of Virginia law,” Comstock said. “Now the MWAA Board refuses to seat additional Virginia board members and refuses to comply with Virginia law which requires that our 96 percent non-union Virginia workforce must be able to fairly compete on a level playing field.”
“Will Tim Kaine call upon his appointee and other Board Members to comply with Virginia law which requires that Virginia workers get to compete for jobs on a level playing field? Or will he stick with his union cronies and biggest fundraisers who want to leave Virginians with higher taxes and higher tolls while sending more of our jobs to Maryland and D.C.?”
Kaine said finishing Phase Two from Reston to Dulles would be a “huge priority” for him if he is elected to the Senate, adding that he had “sweated blood” to get Phase One started.