Metro Decision Divides Speakers
Loudoun residents and landowners voiced opinions about the proposed Silver Line project during a public input session Monday.
More than 150 people signed up for Monday's public input session to tell the Loudoun Board of Supervisors their views about the proposed Metro project that would extend the Silver Line from Reston to Ashburn.
The board must decide by July 4 whether the county will participate in the project. If Loudoun participates, stations will be constructed at Route 606 and 772, increasing development options in those areas. Some have called it the county's "biggest decision" ever. After hearing from the experts, supervisors Monday turned to their constituents.
“The board is looking at their options when it comes to Dulles rail," said Loudoun Public Information Officer Anna Nissinen. "They’ve been going through work sessions with staff getting information. This is the chance for them to hear from the public directly.”
The pro-rail advocacy group, Loudoun Rail Now, rallied outside of the government center. Among them was Brambleton resident Candy Murphy who said that everyone she talks to seems to be in support.
“We live in a part of the Ashburn area that is already traffic choked and its just going to get worse,” Murphy said, adding that when she moved to Brambleton in 2003 Metro seemed like it was a done deal at the time.
“It’s surprising now that it’s not,” she said. “I think as a taxpayer it’s important for the whole county. I think the growth that will come as a result of Metro will help bring the business tax base that we need, which will help us get closer to where Fairfax is by taking more of the tax burden off of the individual homeowner.”
Purcellville resident Ben Belrose disagreed. He believes that Loudoun should opt out of the project and move on to something that makes more sense.
“This is a ridiculous thing for what it gives us,” he said. “In Purcellville, I can drive all the way to the Metro stop that will be at the airport, 25 miles, or pay a toll and go to the nearest metro stop 23 miles away. Why would I ever want to do that? And then to be paying say 3 or 4 cents more in property tax for life … that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.”
Inside, speakers had two minutes to make their points during the four-hour meeting.
Leo Schefer, president of the Washington Airports Task Force, urged support for the project telling supervisors that Metro would “shape your future.”
Tony Howard, president and CEO of the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce, said “the long-term benefits offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Loudoun County.”
However, speaker Daniel Davies, a member of Loudoun Opt Out, said that building rail beyond Dulles International Airport would be a “foolish” thing to do.
“People say we need to do this now or it won’t happen but this board needs to opt out,” Davies said.
Fellow Loudoun Opt Out member John Griggs said that there isn’t anything wrong with the current transportation system. With Metro comes crime, traffic and higher taxes, he said, and costs will exceed revenues.
Bob Costantino approached the microphone wearing a Viking helmet and said, that during their time, Vikings were known for pillage, plunder, and thievery.
“It’s my contention that Metro Silver Line Phase Two, in the context of Loudoun County, is virtual railway robbery,” Costantino said.
But Catoctin District resident and land use attorney Tony Calabrese said that Metro is needed. Opting out, he said, would do “irreparable harm” to Dulles Airport, transportation infrastructure, corporate base, the economy, jobs, families and long-term prosperity.
He pleaded with board members and asked that they continue to fight the principled battle on the project labor agreement, or PLA, front and to evaluate all viable funding choices.
“Please continue to be good, strong negotiators and strike the right bargain on costs, savings and transparency,” Calabrese said. “This is a once in a lifetime chance to enhance our transportation network, to sustain the major economic engine of Dulles Airport and to decisively, affirmatively and permanently support the long-term prosperity of Loudoun.”
Overall, supporters outweighed those who turned out to speak against the project. The board will regroup during a work session Wednesday and continue to discuss the project. Residents may send comments directly to supervisors via the information below.
All Board members receive mail and calls at:
Loudoun County Board of Supervisors
1 Harrison Street, S.E., Fifth Floor
PO Box 7000
Leesburg, VA 20177-7000
Comment Line: 703-777-0115
Residents may also send messages directly to the board members and their aides:
- Scott K. York (Chairman At-Large)
email@example.com (Aides: Robin Bartok, Amanda Logan)
- Janet S. Clarke, Vice Chairman, (Blue Ridge)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Aides: Juanita Tool, Phil Tran, Shevaun Conner)
- Suzanne M. Volpe (Algonkian)
email@example.com (Aides: Ben Fornwalt, Josh Fornwalt)
- Ralph M. Buona (Ashburn)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Aides: Dorri O’Brien, Cathy Dorman)
- Shawn M. Williams (Broad Run)
email@example.com (Aides: Caleb Weitz, Elizabeth Neuffer)
- Geary M. Higgins (Catoctin)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Aides: Callie Chaplow, Chelsea Kneen)
- Matthew F. Letourneau (Dulles)
email@example.com (Aides: Tom Parker, Elizabeth Neuffer)
- Kenneth D. Reid (Leesburg)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Aides: Chad Campbell, Sherri Battershell)
- Eugene A. Delgaudio (Sterling)
email@example.com (Aides: Fred Klein, Joe Patten)