Thursday, April 30, 2015

Congress Tries to Breach Metro Obligations Again

The House Appropriations Committee has once again threatened to pull money the Federal Government promised for Metro.

Back in 2005, then-Congressmen Tom Davis, Frank Wolf and Jim Moran, began the push to secure $150 million per year for ten years from the federal government to fund infrastructure upgrades on Metro provided that such monies were matched dollar-for-dollar by Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.  In 2009, it came close to passing, and it was finally secured in the appropriations act for 2011 which was passed in 2010. 

Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia began budgeting to make their contributions and has met their obligation since this deal was struck.  Also, all three jurisdictions also changed the WMATA Compact to add another seat for the federal government in light of its contribution.  Now - Metro is on track to receive a $3 billion infusion over a ten year period.

However, after the change in party control of Congress, the new majority immediately started talking about revoking this promise.  In 2011, Congress attempted to remove this funding, but it was rebuffed by Congressman Connolly, Moran, Hoyer, Edwards, and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Horton.  I spoke on the floor of the House of Delegates about this attack.  You can see my remarks on the right. 

This week, House Appropriators have once again opening their budget negotiations by trying to cut these monies

One would think after multiple deadly accidents due to failing infrastructure, clearly documented infrastructure problems, and a system that is bursting at the seams due to heavy use, Congress would see the need to continue funding this program.  Metro is a service, not just to our region, but to the entire country.  Without Metro, Washington, D.C.'s ceremonial core, inaugurations, and other public events would not be nearly as feasible. 

Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia have kept up their end of the bargain.  It's time for Congress to stop playing politics with the Metro system and honor its promises.

Friday, April 24, 2015


April 24, 2015

More information:   
Megan Howard, 

Local Leaders Applaud Acceleration of Funding for U.S. 1 Road Widening & Multimodal Transit Improvements

Mt Vernon, VA—The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) and Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) announced two separate projects this week to improve the U.S. 1 Corridor in Northern Virginia.

The CTB’s new Six Year Improvement Plan (SYIP) proposes $4 million allocated to fund the preliminary engineering and environmental impact analysis for Phase I and II recommended by recently completed the Route 1 Multimodal Study. This would include planning to lay the groundwork to implement median-dedicated bus rapid transit from Huntington to Fort Belvoir as an intermediate measure leading to a two-stop extension of the Yellow Line to Hybla Valley.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Weekly Column: Veto Session on Ethics, Voter ID, Government Surveillance

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of April 5, 2015.

Veto Session on Ethics, Voter ID, Government Surveillance

Last week, we returned to Richmond for the annual Reconvened or Veto Session where we considered about 20 vetoes and 60 Governor's amendments to various bills. 
First, Governor McAuliffe signed the state budget we passed so there were no budget amendments to consider for the first time in my six sessions. However, that did not speed things up. 
Governor McAuliffe vetoed several bills relating to firearm violence prevention. These included bills that would enhance Virginians ability to purchase machine guns and carry loaded shotguns in vehicles. I voted to sustain these vetoes and they were ultimately sustained by the Senate. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Quantico Creek Area Coal Ash Remediation to Move Forward

Picture of coal ash on hand of Amy Adams from
Appalachian Voices during Dan River Spill (NBC News)
Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new rules on the construction, maintenance and remediation of coal ash ponds which are used at coal-fired power plants.  This has consequences for the 36th District and communities along the Potomac River and other areas of the Commonwealth.

There are currently five old coal ash ponds at Dominion Resources Possum Point Power Station in Quantico, Virginia which is in the 36th District.  Coal ash or fly ash is the end product of burning coal to create electricity.  Decades ago, it was common practice to mix it with water and store it in ponds into a "slurry."

If ponds are not properly lined with impermeable barriers, then they can leach toxic metals into ground water and surface water.  According to some sources, depending on the coal used, they can leach toxic elements such as arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, chromium, hexavalent chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, strontium, thallium, and vanadium, along with dioxins and PAH compounds.  Metals like this store in the fatty tissues of fish and can aggregate in fish consumers such as birds or humans.  Modern practice is to store ash in dry landfills. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Weekly Column: Transportation Funding Hearing Comes to Route 1

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of April 5, 2015.
Transportation Funding Hearing Comes to Route 1
Last week, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) held public hearings at the South County Government Center at the request of Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay and  Board Chairman Sharon Bulova.

These deliberations include whether to help fund the $14 million estimate for the initial design and environmental analysis of widening U.S. 1 from Fort Belvoir to Napper Road near the Costco, including reserving space for bus rapid transit to Woodbridge and constructing a sidewalk and multi-use path along the entire length.  It also includes about $60 million for widening U.S. 1 in Prince William County (Featherstone to Mary’s Way and Fraley Boulevard to VA-234).
First, here’s some background. Virginia’s transportation system suffered from a twenty-year funding shortfall, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) “borrowed” maintenance money (paving and bridge reconstruction) so there was something to spend on construction. This is why about 75% of the secondary roads in the 36th Senate District now require paving.   In 2013, the General Assembly passed legislation, now law, raising taxes to fund about 20% of our known long-term new construction needs. The bill had statewide and local components.