In spite of federal budget difficulties, U.S. Rep. James Moran (D-8) has managed to obtain funding for many projects in the District.
One such project is a building for the Tenant and Workers Support Committee in Arlandria. “We have managed to get about $100,000 for them to purchase a building,” Moran said. “The building will be used for many of their programs and will allow them to expand services.”
John Liss, the executive director of TWSC was pleased with the appropriation. “Even though Congressman Moran is a member of the minority Party, he has managed to bring home the bacon for the people in his District,” Liss said. “The money will certainly help us.”
The funding will come through the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “It’s what is called earmarked funds so it is there for us when we need it,” Liss said.
The $98,500 will be used to purchase the building at 3801 Mt. Vernon Avenue. TWSC currently has a contract on the building and will close on the contract in July.
“We will move in as renters in May and will begin some of the renovation that we need to do,” Liss said. “There really isn’t a lot of work to be done; just some moving of walls and rearranging of the space. The building is in good shape and we hope to be fully operational by September.”
TWSC needs to raise about $1.5 million to accomplish the purchase and renovation. In addition to the federal funding, the group has obtained a $75,000 grant from the Agnes Myer Foundation and a loan commitment from B B&T Bank for $820,000. The city has made a tentative commitment to provide $300,000.
“We have met with most of Council and they are still supportive,” Liss said. “Now, we have to get the issue on the docket and turn that support into a real commitment. We hope to do that by the end of April.”
THAT IS JUST ONE of the many projects that Moran has assisted with federal funding. “Transportation is a priority for everyone in the region,” he said. “We have some money to continue to look at improving the intersection at Braddock, King and Quaker. Some of the money from last year has been used and we still need further study to determine the best solution to this problem intersection. I think we should look at a roundabout like the ones they have in Europe.”
Richard Baier, the director of Transportation and Environmental Services for the city is pleased to have the funding. “Last year, we used about $300,000 in federal money to install an optical or vehicle detection system at this intersection,” Baier said. “That has allowed us to replace the loops with these cameras that work better in detecting the presence of vehicles and keeping traffic flowing as smoothly as possible.
“This intersection has many problems. A few years ago, the city looked at underpasses and decided they weren’t really a good idea. We haven’t really looked at roundabouts yet, and are going to have to discuss this and other solutions with the community,” Baier said.
One of the problems with roundabouts is obtaining needed rights-of-way. “It would have an impact on several property owners,” Moran said.
There is also the problem of making the roundabout pedestrian- friendly. “When we start building a new high school and close the campus, perhaps we can take a real look at this with the community,” Baier said.
Moran also has money in the budget for signage along Duke Street and Route 1. “We are looking at signs that would tell commuters when buses are arriving,” Moran said. “This has worked very successfully in Fairfax County and we have some money to implement it here in Alexandria.”
THERE IS ALSO A significant amount of money for building a new Virginia Railway Express station on King Street. “We really need to get this done,” Moran said.
There is money to move the bus garage, which is currently located near the waterfront, to another more appropriate location. “We have put money into the budget to do this for the past several years and now we have to get it done,” Moran said.
This, too, is a priority for Mayor William D. Euille. “It is time to move this facility to a more appropriate location,” he said at a recent City Council meeting. “We’ve been talking about it for a long time and now we just have to make a decision and move forward.”
Moran is pleased with a pilot project for public school teachers and librarians in Arlington and Alexandria. “The project gives teachers access to resources at the Library of Congress from computers in their classrooms and in libraries at the public schools in Alexandria and Arlington,” Moran said. “We are the only District doing this currently and we are very excited about the possibilities.”
Librarians from both jurisdictions have already begun training at the Library of Congress. “Once the librarians are trained, we are sending lead teachers for training as well,” Moran said. “Then they can train others in their schools and begin to use the resources at the library to enhance their lesson plans and instruction.”
MORAN REMAINS committed to the rehabilitation of Four Mile Run. “We have added money for this project in this year’s budget and I am pleased with the work that the task force has accomplished,” he said. “There are some issues that need to be resolved about local matches to the federal money but I believe that it will get worked out and we can proceed with this project that will be so important to both Arlington and Alexandria.”
Moran said he is concerned about the federal budget and says that there will be some negative impact on the District. “We offered four different amendments and all of them were defeated this week,” he said. “There isn’t going to be sufficient money to implement "No Child Left Behind" and the federal government will only be paying for about 20 percent of the cost of special education next year. Virginia, like many of the states, has its own fiscal problems and this isn’t going to help.”
The Virginia General Assembly voted to reject the standards in "NoChild Left Behind." “We are going to have a meeting to discuss this but with no federal funding to implement the requirements, how can you really blame them,” Moran said.
Moran is hoping to have a town meeting in April and invite the Secretary of Education to speak. “I think that a lot of our residents have questions for him,” Moran said. “He has agreed to come and speak, but we don’t have a date yet.”
Moran said he is concerned about the Social Security Trust Fund. “Without any increases in revenue, the Social Security Trust Fund is being used to pay for the war in Iraq and to fund every other program,” he said. “We are borrowing against our children’s future. We keep trying to protect the Trust Fund but haven’t been successful.”
Like Delegate Marian Van Landingham (D-45), Moran has introduced a bill that would preclude the Mirant Power Plant from purchasing environmental credits from cleaner plants out of the area. Van Landingham’s bill was deferred for a year while the matter is in enforcement in the Virginia Attorney General’s office. Moran doesn’t have much hope for his own legislation.
“The power plants are just too strong,” he said. “I doubt that the legislation will pass.”
Moran has obtained money to help improve air quality because of pollution from the plant. “We asked for about $200,000,” Baier said. “This will at least help with mitigation efforts.”
How does Moran feel about reinstating the draft? “I am certainly in favor of universal service,” he said. “However, I believe that service should be either military or some other type of service such as Americorps offered. If it is just military service, I wouldn’t support it but I believe that young people are looking for ways to serve and they just aren’t available now.”
ON A PERSONAL note, Moran is engaged. His fiancé is LuAnn Bennett. “My oldest daughter works with her son and they introduced us,” Moran said.
The couple had their first date last March and got engaged at Christmas. She is an agent, representing professional athletes. She has three adult sons.
“We haven’t set a date for the wedding yet because we can’t decide whether to get married before or after the election,” Moran said.
As to the election, there will be a number of candidate forums before the Democratic Primary.