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McDonnell Still Needs Convincing On Silver Line Funding

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Work on the Silver Line is ongoing, but project advocates are still hoping to get more Virginia state funding to offset some of the rail projects $6 billion price tag.
Armando Trull
Work on the Silver Line is ongoing, but project advocates are still hoping to get more Virginia state funding to offset some of the rail projects $6 billion price tag.

If Virginia lawmakers want to approve more state funding for the $6 billion Silver Line rail project to Dulles Airport, they still have to convince one of the most powerful politicians in the state.

Governor Bob McDonnell will not commit to asking the legislature when it convenes next month to approve more dollars for the Silver Line. Tolls on the Dulles Toll Road may rise dramatically over the next three decades partly because the state has committed only $150 million so far toward the financing of the Silver Line.

McDonnell blames the agency overseeing the Silver Line, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, for his hesitance to seek additional state funding.

"They have a ways to go. They had a scathing inspector general report that deals with a lot of things that I've been critical of MWAA for a long time, and I want to see that fixed," McDonnell says. 

The audit by the U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general outlined a "culture of nepotism" at the airports authority and detailed questionable contracting and hiring practices. MWAA has taken steps to correct its mistakes, but the Governor says he won't promise more money for the Silver Line yet.

"The place has got to be run right before we're going to make any investments," he says. "Now, I am confident things are going to change. Now that I've finally been able to put new board members in there, these are all people that are competent."

Virginia is fighting for greater control of the airports authority board, arguing that because the toll road, Silver Line, and two airports are all in the commonwealth, it should have a larger vote.

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