DC Metro expansion roils VA governor’s race

by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper

The candidates for governor in Virginia have broken out into a squabble about the expansion of Washington, D.C., Metrorail subway system toward Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe toured a nearly complete station in McLean, Va., this week, and his campaign knocked Republican Ken Cuccinelli for opposing the construction of the new rail line.

McAuliffe’s campaign released a picture of Xs over the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) soon-to-be opened Silver Line, as the new railway has been formally dubbed.

“This is Cuccinelli’s Virginia,” the altered Metro picture says. 

”Imagine Virginia if Ken Cuccinelli became Governor,” McAuliffe wrote on a Facebook post accompanying the image. “He fought against this year’s historic transportation bill and thinks we should stop funding the Silver Line — in the middle of construction. What a waste.”

Cuccinelli, who is currently Virginia’s attorney general, has publicly said that he is opposed to the construction of the new Metro line line northern Virginia, which is one of the nation’s largest ongoing public transportation projects currently under construction.

Cuccinelli’s campaign responded to McAuliffe’s Metrorail taunt by questioning whether he would support rules for building the project that favored labor unions. The second phase of Silver Line construction, which will be the part that reaches Dulles airport, was nearly held up earlier this year by a dispute over a “project labor agreement” that was included in the first half of the line’s development.

Cuccinelli’s campaign said McAuliffe’s support of the Metro line meant he was in favor of changing Virginia’s “right-to-work” labor laws.

“Yesterday, Terry McAuliffe confirmed the worst fears of Virginia job creators,” Cuccinelli’s campaign said in a statement. “McAuliffe, who has accepted over $1.4 million from union bosses during his two runs for governor, refused to assure Virginians that he will protect Virginia’s right-to-work status — one of the principal reasons the Commonwealth has long been one of the best places to do business in America.

“Virginia’s job creators and workers deserve a governor who will unequivocally support Virginia’s right-to-work laws. Based on his own words and campaign contributions, it’s clear that Terry McAuliffe would not do that as governor.”

The first phase of the Silver Line, which is scheduled to open at the end of this year, is being built in part with $900 million from the Obama administration.

The line, which is not scheduled to reach Dulles until 2018, has become a lightening rod in both Virginia and the metro Washington, D.C., area, where concerns about the cost of the project and the impact on the existing Metro lines have mounted.

Transportation observers noted on Thursday that McAuliffe’s graphic hitting Cuccinelli on opposing the Metro line used an incorrect version of the Metro map.

The map used by McAuliffe shows lines that have been proposed, but not funded or built, Greater Greater Washington blog editor David Alpert pointed out in a post.



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