Funds for Schools, Transit, and War

Funds for Schools, Transit, and War

Moran Assesses Where the Money is Going

Despite projected federal budget deficits in the trillions of dollars, Virginia's Eighth Congressional District still stands to benefit.

"We are certainly in for some economic hard times, nationally and locally," said U.S. Representative James Moran (D-8). "But, we are fortunate that our local economy is strong and that we have been able to preserve some of the programs that are important to us."

Alexandria will receive $1.54 million for expenses that the city has incurred to improve security at the jail as well as at the federal courthouse for the terrorist trials. The city can also apply for additional funding for training public safety officials in the prevention of terrorism.

"Our citizens have certainly borne a lot in the disruption to traffic and in inconvenience by having the terrorist trials planned for the courthouse," Moran said. "The federal government should certainly reimburse the city for the costs that local public safety organizations have incurred."

Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church public schools will receive $2.5 million to develop an innovative training program that would improve teaching skills and better integrate primary sources at the Library of Congress into school lesson plans through the use of technology.

"Some of this money will be used to buy laptops for teachers and to directly link them with Library of Congress source material," Moran said. "This is a pilot program that could be replicated nationally if it is successful. We have wonderful resources at the Library of Congress that could be used by our teachers and students."

FOR MANY YEARS, the intersection at Quaker, King and Braddock, has been a traffic concern. Moran obtained $750,000 for the city to find solutions for moving traffic through this intersection.

"We have studied this intersection for many years," said Emily Baker, Alexandria's city engineer. "We have files and files on it. I couldn't give you a range of options that we are considering but it is true that any type of re-engineering would cost a great deal of money and would require us to use a significant portion of the right-of-way. This is a very tight space so we are going to have to be creative."

Councilwoman Claire Eberwein looks forward to easing congestion there. "As there is more traffic on Quaker Lane, this intersection is going to become even more congested," she said. "Expansion at T. C. Williams and Minnie Howard is also going to add to the problems at this intersection. I hope that we can come up with some creative solutions for this key intersection."

Alexandria will receive $200,000 to support ongoing efforts to conduct ongoing efforts to restore Four Mile Run. Moran has also obtained $450,000 to conduct the initial phase of a study of water resources in the Middle Potomac River watershed.

"It is important that we do what we can to protect our environment," Moran said.

LOCAL TRANSIT WILL also receive some federal support. Arlington County will receive $800,000 in bus and facilities grants to begin planning design and construction of a two-lane transit way through the new Potomac Yard development. Fairfax County will receive $1.6 million to establish several major and minor transit centers, improve bus stops and construct park and ride lots and upgrade pedestrian facilities along the corridor between Lorton and Alexandria.

Fairfax County will also receive $400,000 for developing an Intelligent Transportation System to help solve severe congestion that has been created by the closing of Woodlawn Road and Beulah Street through Fort Belvoir. This occurred after Sept. 11, as part of an armed forces protection measure.

Another $400,000 will be available to complete the ongoing study of traffic and begin design work and possible construction of a non- motorized trail across Mt. Vernon Circle to connect to a portion of the Fairfax County trail at the intersection of Rt. 1 and Woodlawn Road.

"The more we do to improve transit access, the more likely people are to use public transportation instead of their cars," Moran said.

Mt. Vernon will also receive the benefit of federal funds. Woodlawn Estate will receive $235,000 to replace its leaking roof. $200,000 will be available to make improvements to the bike trail along the George Washington Memorial Parkway and to the Mt. Vernon trails.

WHILE THERE WAS some good news, there is also bad news. "We are going to see some cuts in education," Moran said. "Nationally, there is going to be a $90 million cut in funding for the No Child Left Behind initiative. This means that local school districts are going to be expected to do more work for less federal funding. The president is expecting systems to meet federal standards without providing the resources to do so," Moran said.

Alexandria Mayor Kerry J. Donley said this is typical. "The state and federal governments do this all of the time," he said. "They mandate that local governments accomplish these initiatives and then don't fund them," he said.

The federal initiative mandates that school systems throughout the country meet certain standards or be considered failing systems. "The president needs to recognize that there is still a separation of powers," Eberwein said. "Virginia has standards and if these standards meet or exceed the federal standard, there ought to be some kind of a waver. It is unreasonable to pile federal standards on top of state standards without the necessary resources to meet them."

WAR WITH IRAQ continues to loom. "I believe that we will be at war within the next three weeks or so," Moran said. "The administration has certainly made a compelling case for what is going to happen if we do not go to war but I don't believe that anyone has made a case for what is going to happen if we do. I am not sure that the American public is prepared for the results of a war with Iraq."

The cost of that war is not in the current budget. "Right now, we are spending about $2.5 billion a month on the war on terrorism," Moran said. "A war with Iraq is not going to be over quickly. It will cost us another $50 to $100 billion in my estimation," he said.

That cost will include dealing with North Korea, a country that Moran considers a more imminent threat to the United States than Iraq. "My guess is that the administration will agree to provide some type of an aid package to North Korea in terms of food and medical supplies to get them to back off," he said.

Also, there will be aid to the countries bordering Iraq to stabilize them during a war. There is Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and, of course Israel.

"Israel wants $12 billion and I suspect that they will get it," Moran said. "It is interesting, though, that Israel has spent half of the money that we have given them over the past number of years to expand settlements on the West Bank."

WHILE MORAN accepts the threat of another terrorist attack, he urges citizens not to panic. "We increased the threat level from yellow to orange because our intelligence community received information that there was a credible threat of another terrorist attack," he said. "I do not believe we will increase this to red, the highest level of threat because I believe that some of our information has come from terrorists who are now in our custody and we have now evaluated that information not to be reliable.

"People should be cautious and should take precautions but they should use common sense as well," he said. "Our local public safety officials are some of the finest in the country and will keep everyone well informed."