Loudoun supervisors undaunted by Silver Line report

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com
Darci Marchese, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – A new analysis that concludes Loudoun County could suffer a $72.2 billion economic blow without the second phase of the Silver Line isn’t fazing some Loudoun County supervisors.

Stephen Fuller, director for the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University in Fairfax, studied the impact of the subway line and concluded the county needs the line to run out to Dulles International Airport and beyond. He looked at the economy with and without the second phase of the Silver Line. The second phase would provide subway service from Reston to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County.

Due to political and union issues, the project recently hit some stumbling blocks.

“It absolutely is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” says Fuller of bringing the line and two or three new Metro stations to the area.

Fuller explains that not only does the rail line provide service to the airport but it connects people with jobs in Loudoun County.

Fuller says the Metro rail will bring 40,000 professional and business-service jobs to the county, and those types of jobs generate three times the economic activity as retail or hospitality jobs and twice that of construction jobs.

Without the jobs, Fuller says, Loudoun County would remain “a suburban economy as opposed to an urban-based economy.”

Fuller says the project would give the county a competitive advantage in the region and would attract high-rise office complexes. He says the jobs equal money.

“The county loses hundreds of billions of dollars in foregone economic activity,” without the Metro rail, says Fuller.

Fuller’s report shows that between 2020 and 2030 alone, the county would lose $72.2 billion.

“This is a fork in the road for the county,” says Fuller. “The consequence of not doing this just doesn’t seem to be understood at this point.”

Fuller’s report will be officially presented to the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.

But the report isn’t raising much alarm among the county supervisors.

Supervisor Ken Reid of Leesburg is not convinced it changes anything.

“It couldn’t change anybody’s mind cause it’s mot the official Loudoun County study,” says Reid.

Reid says the results are also questionable because the report was paid for with money from developers. Fuller says a donation was made to the George Mason Foundation to pay for the study and from whom it came did not change his findings.

Supervisor Matt Letourneau of Dulles says it’s too early to tell how will the board vote.

“We are still in the-fact finding stage,” Letourneau says.

But Supervisor Supervisor Ralph Buana of Asburn, who favors Silver Line participation, says Fuller’s report is convincing.

“This further enhances my beliefs that this is a sound economic decision and an important long term decision for the county,” says Buana.

How much the county will pay, and how much it will pass on to taxpayers, seems to remain the main issue. Loudoun County has until July 4 to say “yes” or “no.”

The first phase of the Silver Line from Falls Church, through Tysons Corner and into Reston, is already well under construction and scheduled to open next year.

The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce held a breakfast Tuesday morning to discuss Dulles Rail. Check out this live tweet from @AugensteinWTOP:

Follow Hank, Darci and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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