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Vote On Pro-Labor Clause For Silver Line Scheduled For This Week

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Construction crews are working on the Silver Line to Dulles International Airport.
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Construction crews are working on the Silver Line to Dulles International Airport.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board of Directors is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to keep a controversial pro-labor provision in its plans for Phase 2 of the Silver Line.

Publicly, the airports authority leadership has defended the project labor agreement, or PLA, that caused the Republican-led Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and the Virginia General Assembly to threaten to pull out of the project. Privately, MWAA leadership is conceding the $2.7 billion rail link will not go ahead as planned if they insist on keeping the PLA.

The PLA would provide bidding contractors a 10 percent bonus on their technical evaluation scores if they choose a union workforce to build Phase 2 to Dulles International Airport and beyond into Loudoun County. Opponents have argued the PLA violates Virginia's right-to-work law and would lead to out-of-state union workers dominating a Virginia project.

"If the project labor agreement is part of this, then I am absolutely certain that Loudoun County would not be part of the project," says Loudoun Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles). "Phase 2 would not move past Wiehle Avenue in Reston if there is a PLA for the foreseeable future."

Loudoun County has until July 4 to decide if it will confirm its funding commitment of $270 million to the Silver Line. Virginia lawmakers are threatening to withdraw $150 million over the PLA. Loss of those funds would send Phase 2 stakeholders back to the table, likely delay the project, and almost certainly lead to higher tolls on the Dulles Toll Road to make up the difference.

Today, there's a public hearing in Loudon County where residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on Dulles Phase 2. The Board of Supervisors is considering creating new taxes or tax districts to fulfill its funding obligation.

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