Loudoun County debates second phase of Dulles Rail project

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – A major transportation decision is about to be made in the D.C. area, and if approved, plans for the second phase of the Dulles Rail project would bring Metrorail service from the airport into Loudoun County.

But county leaders are now considering opting out of the plan.

The County Board if Supervisors has until July 4 to make a decision, and more than 100 people signed up to speak at a public hearing on the issue at the county government center in Leesburg Monday night.

Some called the rail plan a “boondoggle,” while others used words like “once in a lifetime chance.”

Among those speaking in favor of the plan was Leo Schefer, president of the Washington Airports Task Force.

“If we look at the polls, we find WTOP’s poll indicates that better than 80 percent of your voters support the rail to Dulles,” Schefer told Supervisors.

“They do so because they recognize that this rail, coupled with Dulles Airport, is going to create a first class location for international business. It will totally change the reputation in the world of Loudoun County.”

Geoff Pohanka, president of the Pohanka Automotive Group, is among those who oppose the project. Funding for the Dulles Rail project relies heavily on revenues from the Dulles Toll Road, which worries Pohanka.

“The toll road access has really transformed this region. It’s a great place to live, shop and to work and I’m very concerned with rising tolls,” Pohanka says.

Pohanka fears few people will use the rail line, and tolls on the Dulles Toll Road will go “through the roof,” forcing drivers to stop using it.

“Local roads will become even more congested, fewer people will be able to afford to shop and work in our area, (and) businesses not able to attract workers or customers will leave,” Pohanka says.

The county Board of Supervisors has not yet scheduled a vote on the issue.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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