Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership Applauds Virginia Senate’s Move to Add State Funds to Dulles Corridor Rail Project
Partnership restates commitment to focus on outcomes, not terminology used to describe project workplace agreements for Silver Line Project
Dulles Corridor -- The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership, which includes the Dulles Regional, Greater Reston and Loudoun County chambers of commerce, today applauded the Virginia Senate’s adoption - led by Senators Janet Howell and Mark Herring – of a measure to increase the state’s funding for the Dulles Corridor Rail project by an additional $300 million above the previously committed $150 million in state money.
“I applaud the efforts of Senators Herring and Howell to secure their colleagues’ support for these much needed funds to complete the ‘Rail To Loudoun’ portion of the Dulles Rail Project. I also wish to recognize the support of their Senate colleague, Sen. Dick Black, for these much needed funds when this measure came before the full Senate,” said Tony Howard, President and CEO of the Loudoun County Chamber. He continued, “On a project of such significant regional importance, the Northern Virginia business community truly appreciates seeing our elected representatives demonstrating such regional, bi-partisan leadership.”
Mark Ingrao, President and CEO of the Greater Reston Chamber added, “This additional state funding will directly reduce the amount of the project that will be paid for by users of the Dulles Toll Road and willreduce the impact this project will have on our members who use the Toll Road on a daily basis.”
While the Partnership is encouraged by this news on the budget front, it remains concerned about the challenges between MWAA and its funding partners in agreeing on language concerning workplace agreements between the prime contractor and the labor force, particularly given there is unanimous support among the six signatories of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) developed under Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood’s leadership that Phase 2 must be built under Virginia’s right to work labor laws.
As stated in the declaration sent to the signatories to the MOA last week, thePartnership continues to believe the best approach for all parties is to focus on outcomes not terminology. This means that all prime contractors responding to the MWAA contract process should clearly understand that the funding partners expect them to provide a well-qualified and reliable workforce to build Phase 2 of the project. Any qualified contractor will have their own methods on how to achieve these goals. As evidence of the advantage in this approach exists in the success in Phase 1, with a focus on workforce qualifications and performance standards. In that case, the prime contractor and its subcontractors have achieved exemplary results by establishing priorities and standards that apply to every aspect of the project.
Eileen Curtis, President and CEO of the Dulles Regional Chamber, stated, “There is every reason to believe that the identification of similar contractor performance standards, focused on outcomes, would result in comparable success in connection with the construction of Phase 2.”
Howard added, “With this exciting news about increased potential funding support at the state level, we believe even more strongly, perhaps, that the statesmanlike way to move the project forward would be for all the stakeholders to agree to establish workplace and workforce performance standards focused on outcomes (safety, stability, skill sets, etc.), and not on the terminology used to describe these standards, and to leave the issue of how those outcomes are achieved to the selected contractors.”
Following the Senate Finance Committee action last week, the full Senate will consider the proposed budget, which will then be considered by the House, which is expected to reject the budget, sending it into conference, where negotiations can truly begin.
“This is significant progress, not only for the Dulles Rail project, but on the budget process as a whole,” stated Ingrao. “We sincerely hope the budget negotiators on both sides of the aisle and in both legislative bodies seriously consider the importance of the Dulles Rail project to our region and the Commonwealth as they proceed in their negotiations."
The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnershiprepresents more than 2,800 businesses and 100,000 jobs, and is focused on enhancing a strong pro-business environment in Northern Virginia, and the Commonwealth as a whole.
# # #