MCA Weighs In On Tunnel

MCA Weighs In On Tunnel

Association supports underground tunnel, concerned about cost.

The McLean Citizens Association (MCA) sent a letter regarding Metrorail to the state's Governor.

"This issue is up before the Governor right now, and because he is scheduled to make a decision on this before the end of the month, we decided that we would go ahead and put together a resolution," said Tom Brock, president of the McLean Citizens Association.

The particular issue in question is whether or not the future Metrorail lines in Tysons should be built underground or above ground. Several months ago, Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer asked the American Society of Civil Engineers to form a Dulles Corridor Metrorail Tunnel Review Panel. The objective of the Review Panel was to evaluate the option of construction of a large bore tunnel against the construction of an aerial structure in Tysons Corner.

The McLean Citizens Association board members carefully examined the results of this study and drafted a resolution that is essentially in support of building the Metrorail underground.

"We basically support the underground tunnel, but because of other spatial concerns and the additional cost of the tunnel, we do express our views on certain financing issues," said Brock.

In a letter addressed to Gov. Tim Kaine and to Transportation Secretary Pierce Homer, the McLean Citizens Association states that any cost overruns that will inevitably come with the construction of an underground tunnel should be "equitably distributed among the various stakeholders."

"It would be all too easy to pass these costs along to the residents of Fairfax County," wrote Brock in the letter. "We specifically oppose, however, financing these costs significantly either from local residential real estate taxes... or from any local personal income tax, sales tax or personal property taxes."

In the letter, the association suggests that any additional costs of the Metro extension –– including the costs for the tunnel –– should be financed predominantly by the Federal Government or the state. The association also proposes that any local assessment costs should be borne by proffers or special district payments by the business and commercial landowners that are directly adjacent to the proposed Metro extension.

"Further, any proffers offered by the landowners, developers, or builders should not be offset against the taxes and fees now assessed against them," wrote Brock in the letter.

The association also weighed in on a couple of design issues, noting that construction of the tunnel should begin from the west portal and should employ trucks that use the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's right-of-way on the Dulles Road, in order to "minimize disruption to the community during construction."

The association also suggested that the state look into the adequacy of using heavy duty freight elevators to bring Metro riders up and down to the tunnel stations. The MCA urges the state to "determine the right combination of elevators, escalators and stairways that will be needed to provide sufficient redundancy to accommodate mechanical breakdowns, power outages and emergencies."