Dulles Rail project may be in jeopardy, again

The first phase of the Dulles Rail Project is under construction in Tysons Corner, along Route 7. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Funding for one of the region’s biggest transportation projects is at risk again over debate regarding the use of labor unions.

A bill that has passed the Virginia General Assembly prohibits state funding for projects mandating or giving preferential treatment to contractors who use union labor. That could prevent any state money from being used in the project.

That stance is at odds with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is building the rail extension and has already offered contractors a 10 percent bonus for using union labor.

“I would strongly urge them to reconsider that decision,” said Delegate Tim Hugo, R-Fairfax, who sponsored the bill. “If they do that, it’s going to kill the project.”

Hugo said using union labor would add $300 million to the price tag. A similar provision is contained in the state budget proposal for 2013 and 2014 that has yet to pass.

A statement from the airports authority said the board hopes there is no action that will jeopardize the $2.8 billion rail project.

Phase One of the expansion is already under way. Phase Two would take the subway system from Wiehle Avenue past the airport and into Loudoun County.

The rail extension is being financed with a combination of federal, state and local money from a special taxing district.

The dispute could impact local taxes paid by businesses within the Metro expansion corridor and tolls on the Dulles Toll Road that will be used help finance the rail extension.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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