Key votes this week on the future of Dulles rail project

Hank Silverberg,

WASHINGTON – A dispute over union labor may be so deep that it could jeopardize construction of the second phase of Metro rail extension to Dulles International Airport.

A decision by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority — which is building the Dulles rail project — to give preference to union labor for the job has been an underlying issue for months.

Virginia is a right to work state and the General Assembly has already passed legislation to prohibit such a project labor agreement. Gov. Bob McDonnell said just last week on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program negotiations were underway on several issues, including the PLA.

“Getting that Silver Line extended to Dulles is necessary. It’s the right thing to do.”

But the Washington Post reports that emails show McDonnell’s position on the labor agreement has hardened and the threat of withholding $150 million is more real than it had been in the past.

The MWAA board is supposed to revisit the issue this week and decide whether to go ahead with the PLA.

At the same time, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is also expected to vote this week on whether to remain in the Dulles Rail extension project or drop out. The PLA is an issue for them as well.

The first phase of the 23 mile rail extension, which is already under construction, will go to Wiehle Avenue in Fairfax County. It is slated to be finished in August 2013.

Phase two would take the Silver Line to Dulles Airport and possibly into Loudoun County if the board decides not to drop out.

Total cost of both phases of the project is projected at $6 billion.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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