Monday, April 20, 2009

DATA Board of Directors and General Membership Meeting

DATA Board of Directors and General Membership Meeting
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
7:30 AM - Registration
8:00 AM - 10:00 AM Program

Host: Greg Langweg, Hilton Washington Dulles Airport

Ronaldo T. "Nick" Nicholson, P.E.
Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Mega Project Program Director

Location: Hilton Washington Dulles Airport
Mosby Room
13869 Park Center Road
Herndon, Virginia 20171

If you are planning on attending the DATA Board Meeting, please email, if you have any questions, please contact Jim Larsen at 703-380-5645. We look forward to seeing you there.


From Washington, D.C.

Interstate 66 West merge onto VA-267 W Dulles Toll Road via exit 67 toward DULLES AIRPORT (9 Miles). From the Dulles Toll Road, take Exit 9, Route 28 South/Centreville (15 Miles). Exit at McLearen Road (3 Miles), turn left at 1st light on Towerview and make 1st left on Park Center Road. Follow .1 mile, the hotel is on your left.

DATA’s 23rd Annual Anniversary Celebration & Awards Ceremony

DATA’s 23rd Annual Anniversary Celebration & Awards Ceremony
Thursday, May 7, 2009
6:00 pm
Location: Hilton Washington Dulles Airport

This will include a presentation of the first ever DATAs, awards for outstanding contribution to transportation solutions or demand management in Northern Virginia. If you’re a DATA member, business leader or a TDM professional, this is the networking evening you won’t want to miss. Being a sponsor showcases your company to state, regional and local government leaders

Reception begins at 6:00 p.m.

Special Guest and Keynote Remarks:
Honorable Pierce Homer
Secretary of Transportation

Master of Ceremonies:
Doug Koelemay, Commonwealth Transportation Board

Business Attire

Please put this very important date on your calendars. If you have any questions, or would like to help sponsor this event, please call, Jim Larsen at 703-380-5645 or email

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Loudon Times-Mirror The time is now to push for rail's second phase

The time is now to push for rail's second phase
By Staff

It took nearly 40 years, several billion dollars and more than a few bruised egos, but Metrorail service is finally coming to the Dulles corridor. That point was made official last week when Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, known as MWAA, and U.S. Transportation Department officials finalized a long-awaited deal for $900 million in federal funding.

MWAA, which will manage the 23.2-mile rail extension, is already moving forward on the project's first phase, slated to run from East Falls Church to Reston with four stops in the Tysons Corner area.

Over the next 36 months, Route 7 will be widened to four lanes in each direction and a long, above-ground rail line will split east- and westbound drivers.

If everything goes off without a hitch, trains will begin rolling through Tysons in late 2013.

That's the good news.

Less clear is the timetable for the project's 11.5-mile second phase. Those counting on the "Silver Line" pulling into Dulles Airport by 2020 need the first phase to be delivered on time and within budget.

At the moment, more than a few question marks surround the Reston-to-Loudoun route, which will take at least five years to build, has no set start date and no clear financing plan beyond jacking up fees on the Dulles Toll Road.

We're not suggesting rail won't make it west of Reston in our collective lifetime. It will.

Of more concern at this juncture is the eerie silence we hear whenever rail timelines are discussed in places like Herndon and Ashburn.

The hope here is that rail officials, elected leaders and the local business community will exhibit as much passion, energy and creativity in getting a train to Dulles Airport as they did getting it through Tysons Corner.

Although the rules of this particular game have changed countless times, the original justification for building rail was giving Dulles Airport passengers a transit link to Washington, D.C. It remains one of the few international airports in the world not served by a rail line.

The sooner we can change that, the better.

Washington Post Editorial - March 18

Spot On
Planners should vote to widen Interstate 66.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009; A12

TRAFFIC SNARLS in Northern Virginia are so daunting that it sometimes seems that nothing less than transformational, earth-shifting projects can ease congestion. Yet, for every rail line to Dulles International Airport, there are small-scale fixes that can make life a little better for commuters. Such is the case with a long-stalled project to widen spots of Interstate 66, the perpetually clogged artery that runs through much of Northern Virginia, including Arlington and Fairfax counties. Adding lanes to three noncontiguous segments of the highway inside the Beltway won't turn I-66 into a speedway but could shave crucial minutes off drive times, not to mention generating construction jobs at a crucial time. Regional planners voted recently to delay the plan. They should reverse that decision when they meet today.

Transit advocates and Arlington residents have long opposed any expansion of I-66, a step they consider an affront to smart growth and an enabler of sprawl. When Arlington leaders reluctantly agreed to allow the highway in the 1970s, they extracted a number of concessions, including a pledge to limit the number of lanes. Many Arlington residents see that promise as sacred, but, as Post columnist Marc Fisher reported, then-U.S. Transportation Secretary William Coleman wrote in 1977 that "we cannot guarantee that I-66 will never change." At the time, few could have imagined that road congestion in Northern Virginia would worsen so severely so soon.

Yet, despite excruciating traffic, the project continues to be bogged down in unwieldy bureaucracy and endless studies. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' Transportation Planning Board approved the project in May 2007, then surprisingly voted to postpone construction last month. The first phase, a 1.5-mile widening of I-66 between Fairfax Drive and Sycamore Street, was set to start next year. Planners say they were unclear about the status of a promised Virginia Department of Transportation study on transportation options in the I-66 corridor. Pierce R. Homer, Virginia's transportation secretary, has said a study is underway and will be completed later in the year.

There is too much momentum behind the expansion of I-66 and too little downside to let the project languish. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R) and former representative Tom Davis (R) secured about $30 million in federal earmarks for the widening; the money can't be transferred to other projects. Adding lanes to the highway won't require tearing down homes, as the expansion would take place within the current highway footprint. Shoulders would be narrowed at points, but transit officials say there would still be enough room for vehicles to pull over. The sooner construction starts, the more likely the project is to benefit from federal stimulus money. There should be no further delay.

VDOT cuts spur rural safety concerns

By Rachana Dixit from - Charlottesville, VA

Published: March 18, 2009

Proposed reductions in service and road maintenance by the Virginia Department of Transportation have area officials concerned that the move would make rural roads unsafe or inaccessible during bad weather.

A VDOT spokesman, however, said Tuesday that those concerns are unfounded, as the agency has no intention to change its bad-weather operations.

Adapting to a difficult economy and declining transportation revenues, VDOT is proposing to do fewer routine road maintenance measures, such as grading unpaved roads and mowing vegetation. According to the agency’s Web site, that could mean rural roads would be plowed and salted less quickly during snow and ice storms.

If such a reduction in maintenance and road treatment were approved, Albemarle County schools’ transportation director said, it could become very difficult or even perilous for students and drivers to get to school during bad weather, forcing the locality to cancel school for more days.

“We would have more snow days and have to go to school longer in June,” Josh Davis said.

Agency spokesman Lou Hatter said the information about bad weather on VDOT’s site is outdated or incorrect, as the agency is not planning to reduce services in emergency response or inclement weather.

“There is no proposal to change that,” he said, referring to standards for snow removal. “The standards will stay the same as what they are.”

According to VDOT’s Web site, secondary paved roads that see average daily traffic of fewer than 750 vehicles would be plowed and opened within 48 hours or once busier roads are complete, whereas currently those secondary roads are plowed and opened within half that time. Additionally, the site states, secondary unpaved roads that see the same amounts of traffic could be closed periodically or for the duration of the winter.

Davis said that in some of Albemarle’s rural districts, more than 20 percent of students live on unpaved roads. Davis also said that more than 50 percent of Albemarle students live in rural areas and that 65 percent to 85 percent of the student populations of some schools live on roads that would not be treated under VDOT’s proposal.

“Our total number of students that are impacted are about at least 70 percent,” Davis said.

Mike Skeens, a member of the Greene County Board of Supervisors, said reducing road treatments during snow or ice storms would most assuredly make it difficult for localities whose populations are largely rural.

“We would never be able to get out to some of these schools,” he said.

Mowing will also be done when there are vehicle safety concerns for a particular location, Hatter said, and done less when it is more for aesthetic value. But Hatter added that routine maintenance on unpaved roads is likely to be reduced with the changes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Upcoming DATA events - stay tuned for more information!

DATA Board of Directors and Membership Meeting
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
8:00 am
Location TBD

DATA Annual Dinner
Thursday, May 7, 2009
6:00 pm
Location: Hilton Washington Dulles Airport
Speaker: Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer

TDM Financial Incentives Offered at the State Level

An individual or corporation may claim a credit against the State income tax for the cost of providing commuter benefits to the business entity's employees as provided under An employer can receive a tax credit up to of 50% of a $100 benefit for providing eligible commuter expenses for their employees. The maximum value of the tax credit is $50 per month, per employee. More info on how it works from Maryland Department of Transportation. See Maryland Code: TAX- GENERAL Title 10: Income Tax Subtitle 7. Income Tax Credits Section 10-715. For providing employee commuter benefits and Maryland Code : ENVIRONMENT : Title 2: Ambient Air Quality Control. Subtitle 9. Tax Credits for Employer-Provided Commuter Benefits. Section 2-901. Established. (for rates).

Fundamentals About A Guaranteed Ride Home Program

What is a Guaranteed Ride Home program?
A GRH program is a free or subsidized ride provided to commuters who use alternative commute modes to accommodate their occasional unexpected trips (such as on emergency errands or an unexpected need to work late, removing the concern of being stranded at work without an automobile).

Is offered by a sponsor such as an employer or a third party such as a rideshare service, a TMA, a transit company or an MPO.
The sponsor may pay for taxi rides, contracted car rentals, transit passes or offer company vehicles for participating employees.
Why is a GRH program important?
Improves commuters' security and flexibility to respond to emergencies without relying on their car. GRH makes alternative modes more feasible especially to non-drivers and low-income employees because they avoid unexpected emergency expenses while using alternative commute options that save them money.
It is an effective low cost program. In 1993, COMSIS estimated that GRH typically averages less than $5 per employee per year (1993 dollars) since less than 10% of eligible employees uses GRH. The Warner Center TMA in Los Angeles found that about 1% of the 6,000 eligible rideshare patrons used the service (Park, 1991) and a nationwide survey of eleven GRH programs by KT Analytics found that their average use is about 13 rides per 100 eligible employees per year.
Increases employee satisfaction, commitment and retention. A GRH program shows that the employer cares about their well-being and is willing to provide support services.
Helps achieve TDM objectives by using alternative modes. In a 1992 K.T. Analytics survey, 59% of rideshare and transit patrons considered GRH important in their decision to use alternative modes, and in the 1998 Hunt & McMillan survey, availability of GRH has a value roughly equivalent to subsidized transit fares at a fraction of the cost. In Bellevue, it was found that bus trips increased by 12%, carpool dropped by 2% and vanpool increased by 64% with some notation that most increases came from solo drivers switching.
How can a GRH program be implemented?
By an employer or a third party such as a rideshare service, a TMA, a transit company or an MPO using:
Taxi rides reimbursed by the program sponsor.
Company vehicles of employer.
Car rentals contracted by employers.
Transit passes offered by the program sponsor.
By implementing concrete policy specifications
Who is eligible? The program could cover all employees, or only those who use alternative modes for a specified portion of commuting.
What trips are eligible? The program could cover any trip, or it could be limited to unexpected business appointments or overtime, earlier departure of carpool/vanpool, employee or family member sickness, and other personal emergencies (victim of crime, home fire, plumbing leak etc).
Maximum number of uses allowed. Is it during a certain period, maximum miles within a period, or maximum cost per trip?
Which staff or department is responsible for implementation? Is it the human resources, parking, security, finance, etc?
What are the procedures for using the GRH service? See "typical implementation steps" below.
Pay attention to precautionary measures.
Involve stakeholders such as employees, taxi companies, car-share organizations or other contractors in the planning process.
Tie it closely to your commute options, i.e., design of a GRH program features should be derived from the type of commute options to be implemented.
Consider co-payments, i.e., GRH may be free or it may require a modest co-payment from the service user.
Limit restrictions, i.e., to allow commuters to participate in unplanned non emergency events that can still affect their decision whether or not to drive (it is most effective if requirements are not restricted to "emergency" trips alone).
Anticipate cost variations i.e., Commuter Transportation Services in Los Angeles suggests an estimation between 0.5 and 20 percent of current rideshare patrons ranging from companies allowing rides for overtime, errands or business trips, to companies allowing emergency use only respectively.
What are the typical implementation steps?
Identify and decide on the commute options the company would offer. These include transit, rideshare, bike, walk, skateboard, etc.
Ensure top-level support of the commute options.

Tailor the GRH program plans to the commute options selected.
Develop program description based on selected commute options.

Itemize benefits to the employer and related opportunities.

Itemize costs to the employer and related challenges.

Determine the feasibility of offering a GRH program.
Estimate the average cost at $5 for 20% of current rideshare patrons per year.
Identify potential providers and assess their requirements.
Assess employee commute needs and support to use the program.
Ensure top-level support of the GRH program.

Develop program policies and procedures (better anticipate than react).
Involve stakeholders throughout the process.
Specify eligibility such as type of commute, times of commute, employee status etc (also see form at
Determine whether employees will use vouchers or be reimbursed and the approval procedures (balance convenience versus abuse).
Develop appropriate paperwork, e.g. registration forms, ID cards and reimbursement vouchers in triplicate (copies for administrator, employee and service provider).
Allocate resources
Assign an Employee Transportation Coordinator (ETC) who will administer the program and liaison with outside providers, jurisdictions and other related entities.
Make appropriate arrangements with taxis, rental car companies, local transit agency and other relevant service providers.
Manage the Program
Continually promote the program to potential users of alternative modes as a safety net for participants (information of availability versus encouraging to use).
Ensure that the service is fast, reliable and convenient.
Keep records and regularly analyze patterns especially about frequent uses that may address a larger personnel issue (childcare, unplanned overtime, accidents etc).
Monitor the program against abuse by employees or service providers.
Keep stakeholders informed especially management and service providers.
What are some of the GRH challenges?
Possible high costs. For taxis, company car or rentals especially for programs serving commuters working late or overtime. However, experience indicates that employer costs are usually low, especially for programs offering emergency service during the workday only, and it is a very cost effective way to reduce automobile commuting. In general, taxis are cost effective for short trips while auto rentals are preferable for longer trips.

Liability exposure. In case of accidents and late arrivals to appointments but this need to be specified in policies and sign up forms. In many states, worker compensation laws only recognize where an employee is carrying out employment duties.

Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefit Rates for 2009 - Update

Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefit Rates for 2009 - Update

Employers may provide workers with up to $230 per month in tax-free transit and vanpool benefits in 2009. Effective March 2009, as part of the stimulus bill, the monthly limitation under Section 132(f)(2)(A) Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits regarding the aggregate fringe benefit exclusion amount for vanpools (commuter highway vehicles) and transit passes was increased from $120 to $230 per month. The monthly limitation under Section 132(f)(2)(B) regarding the fringe benefit exclusion amount for qualified parking is $230. Commuters can receive both the transit and parking benefits (i.e., up to $460 per month). Employers can allow employees to use pretax dollars to pay for transit passes, vanpool fares and parking.

Beginning in 2009, employees can be reimbursed up to $20 per month for biking to work. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110 343), added qualified bicycle commuting reimbursements to the types of qualified transportation fringe benefits. The benefit can not be combined with those other qualified transportation fringe benefits.

Friday, March 6, 2009

What is Slugging?

What is Slugging? Borrowed from

Slugging is a term used to describe a unique form of commuting found in the Washington, DC area sometimes referred to as "Instant Carpooling" or "Casual Carpooling". It's unique because people commuting into the city stop to pickup other passengers even though they are total strangers! However, slugging is a very organized system with its own set of rules, proper etiquette, and specific pickup and drop-off locations. It has thousands of vehicles at its disposal, moves thousands of commuters daily, and the best part, it’s FREE! Not only is it free, but it gets people to and from work faster than the typical bus, metro, or train. I think you'll find that it is the most efficient, cost-effective form of commuting in the nation.

How the Slugging Works
The system of slugging is quite simple. A car needing additional passengers to meet the required 3- person high occupancy vehicle (HOV) minimum pulls up to one of the known slug lines. The driver usually positions the car so that the slugs are on the passenger side. The driver either displays a sign with the destination or simply lowers the passenger window, to call out the destination, such as "Pentagon," "L’Enfant Plaza," or "14th & New York." The slugs first in line for that particular destination then hop into the car, normally confirming the destination, and off they go.

No money is exchanged because of the mutual benefit: the car driver needs riders just as much as the slugs need a ride. Each party needs the other in order to survive. Normally, there is no conversation unless initiated by the driver; usually the only words exchanged are "Thank you" as the driver drops off the slugs at the destination.

There doesn’t need to be any discussion about the destination , such as giving directions, because the drop-off points are generally understood. "Rosslyn" means the Metro station in Rosslyn, not at some other point along the way. The "Pentagon" means the curb along Fern Street, not the North Parking Lot. However, there are a few places where the destination drop-off point is not understood; in these cases, the slug must state where he or she wishes to be dropped off. For example, at "Tackett’s Mill," the driver usually asks "New or Old Lot?" because the driver will take you to either. And there is Crystal City, where drivers drop off slugs anywhere between 12th Street and 23rd streets. Later in the book these exceptions are explained in greater detail.

When Did Slugging Begin Anyway?

It’s hard to believe that slugging has been around in the Northern Virginia and Washington, DC, area for 36 years! That’s right; slugging debuted in about 1971 when the first HOV lanes were constructed. Of course, the exact date is uncertain because there really aren’t any official government records that have studied slugging from its infancy. The best source of information has been individual interviews (I interviewed a man who started slugging back in 1982—that’s 20 years of slugging!). The next source has been the numerous newspaper articles written on the subject over the past few years. I’m sure that whatever I determine as the "origin" of slugging, somebody will have a brother-in-law with a Ph.D. in ‘Slug-ology" with undeniable proof that slugging starting years prior….okay, fine.

Here is an portion of an email I received in November 2004 from a fellow slug which suggests that slugging was working in 1979. "I'd just like to compliment you on your very interesting web site. I worked in Washington DC as a college student in the late 1970's and I would like to confirm your claim that slugging began prior to the 1989 study. During the summer of 1979, I commuted by bus from my sister's house in Annandale to Naval Research Lab. This trip required riding into downtown DC and catching a cross-town in the morning, then the reverse in the afternoon. On a few occasions I slugged the last leg of the trip home in the afternoon. There was an informal slug line in front of the FBI bldg, which took riders down the Shirley Hwy corridor to various endpoints. When I worked in DC from 1981 to 1985, there were indeed firmly established slug lines at the locations you mention on Keene Mill Road, as well as further out close to George Mason where there was a park&ride. I was in a regular carpool at this time and sometimes our driver picked up a slug or two when a regular rider was absent so that we could still get into the HOV lanes. Sincerely, Mary Ann"

How Slugging Began
Slugging can trace its roots back to the Arab oil embargo of the 1970’s. During this era, gas prices soared, as it became apparent that the United States was dependent on foreign oil. In an attempt to reduce its dependence, the United States adopted a number of measures to curb gasoline consumption. Speed limits were reduced from 65+ m.p.h. to 55 m.p.h., car manufacturers were told to make cars more efficient, and high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes were constructed. These lanes were for vehicles with more than three occupants. The benefit for the government was twofold: reduced gasoline consumption as well as some environmental benefits.

The Shirley Highway
When the HOV lanes on Shirley Highway (I95) opened in 1971, the first slug lines began to emerged. With these high occupancy lanes being strictly enforced, drivers had to abide by the HOV-4 rule (later changed to HOV-3) or pay stiff fines.

When a driver did not have enough passengers for the HOV, he would pull up to a line of commuters waiting for the bus and offer a ride to anybody in the line. Faced with waiting in the summer heat or winter cold for a bus that could be late or full to capacity, some commuters began opting for the car. Soon word began to spread as drivers found an easy solution to meeting the HOV requirements, and bus riders found a faster, cheaper alternative to the bus. I’m sure it took some time for the word to spread, but soon enough people knew which bus stops catered to the offers of free rides.

It is believed that slugging began with people waiting at bus stops on their way to the Pentagon (which was—and still—is a major transportation hub).

The Very First Slug Line
According to a study by the Urban Institute in 1989, slugging existed in only one location in Springfield, VA. That doesn’t mean slugging began in 1989, only that when the study was conducted, formal slug lines already existed. Since I have interviewed people who have slugged from the Springfield area since 1982, we know that slugging predates the Urban Institute study with evidence that slugging began in the early 1970’s.

Nevertheless, the Urban Institute did recognize that a "formal" slug line was in operation at a place known as "Bob’s," which referred to a line adjacent to Bob’s Big Boy restaurant at the intersection of Bland Street and Old Keene Mill Road in Springfield. As it turned out, Bob’s had all the ingredients normally needed for a slug line: parking, a bus stop (or other mass transit), and easy access to the HOV. Because the Pentagon was—and still is—a major commuter hub, Bob’s line had the Pentagon as its only destination.

Today, some 20 years later, Bob’s has undergone a number of changes. The Big Boy restaurant has been replaced by Shoney’s, and the slug line no longer services the Pentagon but has been replaced with two lines: one for L’Enfant Plaza and the other for the Memorial Bridge area. Furthermore, the lines themselves have moved across the street next to Long John Silver’s.

So, if Bob’s is next to Long John Silver’s, why is it still called "Bob’s"? Either out of respect for tradition, or simply because the name just stuck, the name "Bob’s" has endured the test of time.

Where Did the Word "Slug" Come From?
The term "slug" itself did not derive from the word that means mollusk, as some people think. Instead, the term appears to have originated from bus drivers as a derogatory term.

The story goes like this. Bus drivers had always been warned to be aware of counterfeit coins (also known as slugs) from people trying to pass off this fake money in the coin collection tray.

When slugging was in its infancy, commuters stood at the bus stops, waiting for a driver to pick them up. Bus drivers, thinking these people were waiting for the bus would stop to pick up the passengers only to be waved off, frustrating many of the drivers. As this event became more and more frequent, bus drivers began recognizing the real bus riders from the fakes. Because the people weren’t really waiting for the bus, drivers began to simply call them "slugs." This definition seems to make sense because these people weren’t real bus riders or even real car poolers in the usual sense of the word. They were, just as the name implies, counterfeit riders or slugs. Hence, the term was born.

Over time, the less-attractive term "slug" has had many contenders, such as "instant car pooler," "hitchhike commuter," and "casual car pooler," but tradition has continued to outlive the newer, more politically correct terms.

10 Steps to Riding Your Bike to Work

10 Steps to Riding Your Bike to Work (borrowed from the Sacramento Transportation Management Association)

1. Gear up. Get your bike checked out and tuned up if it's been awhile since you've ridden it.
2. Select a route. Try the bike map online or consult a detailed map or Thomas Guide.
3. Take a short cut. Pedal as far as the bus or rail stop, then store your bike or take it on board.
4. Consider a bike buddy. It can often be safer to ride as a pair, and it's more fun. Apply online for a list of cyclists that live and work near you.
5. Do a test run. In your car, drive the bike route and look for things like wide lanes, bike lanes and traffic flow.
6. Learn the rules of the road. A bicycle is a vehicle and you should follow the rules.
7. Put safety first. Buy a helmet approved for bicycling and wear it.
8. Assess your fitness level. If you haven't had much exercise lately, you might want to check with your physician before you ride.
9. Talk to your employer. Your company may offer benefits, showers, changing facilities, bike storage for cyclists.
10. Bike to work! Bicycling takes about the same amount of time as driving a car to work if you live within 10 miles of work.

Without Funds, Road & Infrastructure Projects Idle Across Northern Virginia

Written by Dean Edwards - Falls Church News Press
Thursday, 05 March 2009 13:06

Construction of long-awaited improvements at the Gallows Road-Lee Highway juncture and the Arlington Boulevard (Rt. 50) pedestrian bridge remained on hold this week as county and state officials work to resolve critical issues impeding the projects' completion.

Due to fiscal slashing to the state infrastructure budget in Richmond that cut $38 million to enlarge the Gallows Road-Lee Highway intersection, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has stalled the project indefinitely.

Despite a lack of funding for road construction, site workers have continued to move utility lines - gas, electric and water - in anticipation of the road improvement. "The tech team is making great strides," said Bud Siegel, a Northern Virginia VDOT manager, and are on track for scheduled completion by 2011.

So far, VDOT has invested more than $82 million in designing and clearing the proposed expansion area, removing a dozen restaurants and retail stores that had lined one of Northern Virginia's busiest traffic corridors. Siegel said that the state is still looking to award a $12 million contract to move a major water main, as well.

Siegel added that VDOT was juggling Gallows Road concerns with nearby hot lanes on Interstate 495 to reduce stress on the traffic pattern along the Gallows Road-Lee Highway intersection.

Gallows Road's project manager, Arif Rahman, also remained "optimistic" that "most likely, the funding will eventually come" to complete the road," but could not offer any new projections as to when that funding may arrive.

For county officials, the outlook for the Gallows Road project looks grim, said Providence Supervisor Linda Smyth, who oversees the Merrifield area surrounding the project.

Smyth described the fiscal and infrastructure situations as "really chaotic."

"VDOT took away funding for 2010 and 2011 thinking it'd be eligible for stimulus funding," Smyth said. "The last word we've received from [Virginia Secretary of Transportation] Pierce Homer is: no, it's not," because it is not sufficiently "shovel ready."

Smyth added that the Fairfax County Board had "raised the issue that it'd be great if the project does get stimulus funding," noting that the state had already slated to cut infrastructure spending. "But there was no contingency," said Smyth.

Of the project's proposed completion date by 2013, Smyth said she was "afraid that it's not going to have a happy landing."

About five miles east, near the juncture of Arlington Boulevard (Rt. 50) and Leesburg Pike (Rt. 7), the widely anticipated pedestrian bridge over Rt. 50, which was slated for completion in July 2008, effectively idled while 93 percent complete, according to VDOT's latest project update.

The remaining work is a steel truss that will undergird the concrete walkway across the busy Arlington Boulevard, said Siegel, calling the issue of the steel truss "unanticipated."

"Typically we don't have these problems," Siegel said, adding that VDOT has been working with the contractor to repair the stress cracks caused by differential expansion in the steel truss. "We spent some time on how do we repair the steel truss, do we work with the contractor. These sorts of issues take time."

Siegel estimated that the pedestrian bridge should be completed by sometime this spring.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Virginia’s stimulus portion will fund a range of projects

By Olympia Meola

Published: March 5, 2009

From school funding, to city buses, to health care for the homeless, traces are appearing of where federal stimulus aid will trickle in to Virginia.

Overall, the state is expected to get $4.8 billion from the stimulus, according to a state budget summary provided to Virginia lawmakers. Legislators used about $1.5 billion to help ease a $3.7 billion shortfall in the two-year, $77 billion budget.

Virginia school districts will receive $365 million of the $1.5 billion in stimulus funds for direct aid to K-12 education in fiscal 2010. Those funds, which the state is allocating through its own funding formula, will help localities counter deep proposed cuts.

For example, Dinwiddie County schools, facing a budget shortfall of $2.6 million, will get an estimated $1.89 million in stimulus funds for direct aid to public education, according to the state budget summary.

Dinwiddie Superintendent Charles Maranzano Jr., awaiting further details, spoke cautiously yesterday. But he said stimulus funds are dollars well spent if they prevent drastic cuts.

"We can breathe a sigh of relief if we don't have to cut 60 positions," Maranzano said.

School districts also are expected to get enhanced funding for federal programs, such as Title 1.

On Monday, Sens. Mark R. Warner and Jim Webb announced that Virginia is getting $5.76 million from the federal stimulus package for five health clinics, including two in Richmond: the Daily Planet and Vernon J. Harris East End Community Health Center.

And yesterday, the GRTC Transit System said it expects to receive about $11 million in stimulus funds to complete the design of a downtown transfer center and to buy new paratransit vans.

GRTC says it plans to use about $9 million of the $11 million to complete design and engineering work for the transfer center in the train shed behind Main Street Station in Shockoe Bottom. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2010.

"The purpose of the transfer center is to further enhance GRTC's services by creating a centrally located, user-friendly and accessible facility for our passengers, reduce private-vehicle traffic on the streets of downtown, contribute to the economic growth of downtown, and help sustain the environmental benefit to the community by reducing the amount of carbon emissions released into the air we breathe," said John M. Lewis, chief executive officer of GRTC.

The remaining $2 million is to be used to buy 38 replacement paratransit vans used to aid disabled passengers.

The Daily Planet, which provides services to the homeless population or those at risk of homelessness, expects to get about $700,000 for a new service location.

The organization had been applying for grant money to no avail when word came down that it would receive stimulus funding, said Maureen Neal, director of development and external affairs for the Daily Planet. Its board plans to meet this week to begin planning for the new project and its needs, including staff.

"In that regard, it is creating jobs in addition to providing the necessary health care to people that have lost their jobs or have lost their benefits," she said.

With piling job losses and the oft-accompanying loss of health insurance, the organization is seeing about 44 new patients a month, Neal said. The organization last year saw about 5,500 individuals over about 20,000 patient visits.

In tough times, some people "have to decide between health and paying rent," Neal said. "We want to keep them in the home."

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced the release of $27 billion nationally in stimulus funds for infrastructure, which will include $694 million to maintain existing Virginia roads and bridges. The Virginia aid is not yet targeted specifically.

Everything you want to know about ZIP CAR.

You can Click HERE to be taken to the Frequently Asked Questions page regarding Zip Car.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Va. Assembly Wraps; Kaine Cuts Losses

Governor's Agenda Largely Unrealized Despite Budget, Smoking Ban Successes

By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 1, 2009; C01

RICHMOND -- Gov. Timothy M. Kaine oversaw the conclusion of his final General Assembly session last night, virtually assuring he will leave office without fulfilling his most conspicuous campaign promise: to resolve Virginia's transportation mess.

Facing the worst economic crisis in generations and stiff resistance from Republican lawmakers who felt burned by past efforts at compromise, the commonwealth's 70th governor discovered that the ambitious agenda he laid out to voters in 2005 would remain largely beyond his reach.

As the gavel fell Saturday night on the 2009 legislative session, he acknowledged leaving his efforts to address vexing traffic issues unfinished and his pledge to fund pre-kindergarten programs statewide unresolved. But Kaine, ever upbeat, said he found other ways to deliver for voters, including Saturday's accord on revisions to the state's $77 billion budget and last month's decision to impose a statewide ban on smoking in restaurants and bars.

"There are things I wanted to do that I will not get done, and then there are things I have gotten done that I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams," Kaine said in an interview. "It's been a weird three years."

The House and Senate adjourned about 8:45 p.m., signaling to Kaine that they had completed their work. The close of this year's session marks the start of a 10-month transition for Kaine from elected chief executive to full-time chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

During a rare moment of self-reflection, Kaine said Wednesday night that he thinks he's done a "pretty good job" as governor of the nation's 12th-largest state.

"You know, I would have gotten more done had I had more money to deal with it," Kaine said. "But, you know, in some ways . . . it might be better to have a friend when times are tough than when times are good."

Some of Kaine's greatest accomplishments were the product of his ferocious appetite for elective politics, which has resulted in dramatic Democratic gains in traditionally conservative Virginia.

Senate Minority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) said Kaine "will be remembered as the Democratic governor who married into a Republican family and converted them to Democrats."

During his tenure, Kaine has built a reputation for being an unflappable administrator, a quiet promoter of Northern Virginia's increasingly liberal take on social issues and a calming presence after of the Virginia Tech massacre.

But Kaine's governorship has been badly marred by the slumping economy and housing market, forcing him to cut several billion dollars out of his final budget. Kaine has also been at the center of unprecedented partisan division in Richmond, in part a byproduct of Virginia's new status as a swing state in presidential politics.

His plan to offer universal taxpayer-funded pre-kindergarten fell victim to a drop in state revenue, although he noted that he pushed last year to pump an additional $25 million into the program. "We have set it up so the battle over pre-K is not over," Kaine said.

When it came to his biggest legislative priority -- a tax increase to build more roads -- legislators said Kaine showed a surprising inability to broker a deal.

After failing to get a transportation agreement in 2006, GOP leaders fashioned their own proposal in 2007 that relied on regional taxing authorities instead of Kaine's plan for a statewide solution. Kaine reluctantly signed on to the legislative plan, but the Supreme Court ruled that regional authorities did not have the power to raise taxes.

Kaine came back with a proposal to use higher taxes on vehicle purchases, but not even Democrats endorsed it.

William D. Lecos, president of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, said Kaine deserves credit for trying to overcome Republican resistance. But Kaine shares the blame, he said, for continued gridlock on highways in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

"I think the governor could have used his bully pulpit as the leader of the Democratic Party to come up with a plan to at least carry in the General Assembly from his side of the aisle," Lecos said.

Republicans say Kaine's failure largely came down to a blunt partisan approach that was a departure from that of his predecessor, Mark R. Warner (D).

"With Kaine, I never felt a warm, fuzzy feeling where he wanted everyone to take off their political hats," said House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem).

The partisanship in Richmond emerged as an obstacle during Kaine's first weeks in office. Republicans refused to confirm Daniel LeBlanc, the former head of the Virginia AFL-CIO, to be Kaine's secretary of the commonwealth. Griffith said GOP legislators, who were worried LeBlanc would work to overturn the state's right to work laws, saw the appointment as a sign that Kaine "was going to run roughshod" over them.

What followed was an unusually large number of legislative setbacks. Instead of pursuing issues he knew would pass, Kaine pushed measures that appeared designed to test Republicans in the General Assembly.

Last year, Kaine took on gun rights advocates by proposing background checks on weapons purchased at gun shows. He failed. This year, he wanted to double the cigarette tax. The bill didn't get out of a Senate committee. Kaine also pushed for the early release of certain nonviolent inmates, a cost-saving measure that GOP lawmakers saw as an affront to the state's tough-on-crime reputation.

But the governor said that when the final chapter is written he will be known for making sure Virginians -- and the core services they rely on -- escaped the worse of the economic downturn. Any account of his legacy would include the $800 million in funds he set aside to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay and the effort to start forming a comprehensive policy on renewable energy.

Kaine noted that he also has preserved more than 300,000 acres of open space and expects to hit his goal of protecting 400,000 acres by January -- an area the size of Virginia's Eastern Shore. On transportation, Kaine pointed to movement on construction of HOT lanes, and he helped break a bureaucratic logjam so Metro can be extended to Dulles International Airport.

Now, he is preparing to sign into law the new smoking ban, a milestone for a state that built its economy on the tobacco leaf and remains home to the world's largest cigarette manufacturer. During his 2005 campaign, Kaine never discussed wanting to ban smoking in restaurants. But, he said Wednesday, the political dynamics in the state changed, enabling him to launch what he called a "little quixotic campaign against smoking."

Somewhat to Kaine's surprise, Republican House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) agreed to a compromise on the issue.

"I don't mind going out there and just running the draw play up the middle on every play and hoping I break through for a touchdown sometimes," Kaine said.

Dulles Metrorail Project Overview

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) will construct a 23-mile extension of the existing Metrorail system, which will be operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority from East Falls Church to Washington Dulles International Airport west to Ashburn.

The extension will serve Tysons Corner, Virginia's largest employment center, and the Reston Herndon area, the state's second largest employment concentration. And, it will provide a one-seat ride from Dulles International Airport to downtown Washington.

Phase 1 and 2

The project will include 11 new stations. It will be built in two phases. Phase 1 will run from East Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue on the eastern edge of Reston. It will include four stations in Tysons Corner-Tysons east, Tysons Central 123, Tysons Central 7 and Tysons West. Construction will begin in March of 2009 and it will be completed in 2013.

Phase 2 will run from Wiehle Avenue to Ashburn in eastern Loudoun County. A construction date has not been set for the extension that will serve Reston Town Center, Herndon, Dulles Airport, Route 606 and Ashburn.

The purpose of Dulles Metrorail is to provide high-quality, high-capacity transit service in the Dulles Corridor. New Metrorail service in the corridor will result in travel time savings between the corridor and downtown D.C., expand the reach of the existing regional rail system, offer a viable alternative to automobile travel and support future transit-oriented development along the corridor.

FTA Decision - Final Design Phase

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has propelled the project into its "Final Design" Phase after many years of study and preparations. The project team is now working with the FTA to obtain a $900 million Full Funding Grant agreement in early 2009.

In the Fall of 2008 the FTA transferred $159 million to the project to be used for:

Right-of-way acquisitions
Reimbursement of third party preliminary engineering costs
Final design work
Project administration
Maintenance of traffic programs
Engineering and design of rail cars
The FTA has also released $14 million to be used for site preparation work for a 2,100 foot tunnel that will be built under the intersection of Route 7 and 123, the highest natural point in Fairfax County.


MWAA and Dulles Transit Partners in March 2008 signed an updated $1.6 billion fixed-price contract to build the project, keeping the costs of the project to $2.6 billion.

Utility Reconstruction

Today, the construction team is involved in the relocation of 21 different utilities in the Tysons Corner area to prepare for project construction next spring. That work is being done primarily in the busy Route 7 corridor between Route 123 and the Dulles Toll Road.

Early Decisions

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) for the project was completed in June 2002. This Draft EIS evaluated several alternatives, including three Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) options, a combined BRT/Metrorail alternative and a full Metrorail extension. Public hearings on the Draft EIS were held in July 2002. Based on extensive public comments and input from local jurisdictions, the full extension of Metrorail was recommended as preferred option or Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA).

This Dulles Metrorail project was approved by the WMATA Board of Directors in November 2002 and the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) in December 2002. The Project was also endorsed by the Fairfax County, Loudoun County and MWAA Boards.

Following these approvals, a Final EIS was published in December 2004 and the FTA issued its Record of Decision approving the environmental process in March 2005.

Click HERE to go to the Dulles Metrorail Project Website.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions about the Dulles Greenway

To go directly to the Dulles Greenway Website, CLICK HERE.

Here are quick Answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions…
How is the toll amount determined?

When traveling eastbound on the Greenway, motorists pay the toll upon exiting the road. Therefore, determine your exit, such as #4--Belmont Ridge Road--and you’d pay $2.30 if you used a credit card, and $1.85 if you used your Smart-Tag/EZ-Pass. If you traveled the entire length of the Greenway, then a $3.00 toll would be collected. Note: when continuing on the Dulles Toll Road (DTR), an additional 50 cents is collected for travel on the DTR.

When traveling westbound on the Greenway, motorists pay the toll upon entering the road. Therefore, if you enter the Greenway westbound at Route 28/Sully Road, you will pay $3.00. Note: if you continue on to the Greenway from the Dulles Toll Road, an additional 50 cents is collected for travel on the DTR. There is a discount on weekends. Please contact us at 703.707.8870 if you have any further questions. (Click here to link to the toll-rate page.)

What if I passed through a toll without paying?

If you passed through a Greenway toll lane without paying the required toll, you have 48-hours to take care of the obligation. If the toll is not paid in the required time, you will be assessed a $25 late fee. If you are a Smart-Tag/E-ZPass user, and no deduction was made from your Smart-Tag account, you are still obligated to pay the toll amount due. Please note that the amount due for the missed toll will not be deducted from your Smart-Tag/E-ZPass account, and must be paid directly to the Greenway. Click here to link to the Insufficient Funds Form, which you can print-out and mail-in with your payment. Please contact us at 703.707.8870 if you have any further questions.

What do I do if I received an unpaid toll slip?

If you received an unpaid toll slip, you must mail-in the payment along with the unpaid toll slip within 7 days. Please mail all unpaid toll slips to the following address: Dulles Greenway, PO Box 433, Sterling, VA 20167. You may send cash, check, or money order. All checks should be made payable to the Dulles Greenway. You may also pay the unpaid toll (include the unpaid toll slip) in a cash receiving lane, provided the toll is paid within the 7-day period. If the toll is not paid in the required time, you will be assessed a $25 late fee. Please contact us at 703.707.8870 if you have any further questions.

What if I left my change at the toll booth?

If you left your change at the toll plaza, contact us at 703.707.8870, as soon as possible. Please have any pertinent information at hand, such as the date & time of the incident, the direction in which you were traveling, and a description of the toll officer.

Where can I pick up Velcro strips for my Smart-Tag/E-ZPass?

Each Smart-Tag/E-ZPass transponder should be mounted on your windshield. Properly mounted Smart-Tags/E-ZPasses reduce the chances that your transponder will not be read accurately. If you need Velcro strips, please contact the Smart-Tag/E-ZPass Customer Service Center at 1-877-762-7824, or click here to request one via e-mail.

Why doesn’t the Dulles Greenway offer variable toll pricing based on usage?

The Dulles Greenway’s current layout cannot accommodate distance-based pricing. The Greenway was designed to maximize the efficiency of the toll collection process…thus expediting traffic flow. This design--much like that of the Dulles Toll Road--does not offer a discount for partial usage.

Why don’t your remote toll booths accept coins?

The Greenway elected not to use coin-operated toll machines for several reasons. First, processing time for coin transactions can actually be longer than the time needed for credit card transactions. Also, coin machines require much higher maintenance, due to vandalism, foreign objects, and coin jams. However, most importantly, coin machines pose a security risk to Greenway employees who transfer funds between locations. We feel that credit card and Smart-Tag/E-ZPass transactions are the safest, most expedient methods for unmanned toll collection.

Does VIP membership cost me anything?

No, it costs nothing to become a Dulles Greenway VIP Cash-Back Bonus member. In fact, driving on the Greenway as a VIP Miles member can even earn you a cash-back bonus after your first year of membership.

Can I combine my multiple VIP Miles accounts into one account?

No. The cash-back bonus markers (starting at 2,800 miles) are based on individual Smart-Tag/E-ZPass usage. Multiple Smart-Tags/E-ZPasses on one VIP Miles account would increase the established cash-back markers.

What times can I use cash on the Greenway?

In order to keep costs at a minimum, cash collection hours have been reduced on the Dulles Greenway. At the mainline toll plaza, the cash collection hours are as follows:

EASTBOUND 6:00 AM 7:00 PM 9:00 AM 9:00 PM
WESTBOUND 9:00 AM 9:00 PM 9:00 AM 9:00 PM


Motorists are not able to pay cash at the ramps for their toll. The Dulles Greenway does accept all credit card types as well as Smart-Tag/E-ZPass.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Loudoun Aims to Make Most of Stimulus

Loudoun Aims to Make Most of Stimulus
County Lines Up Possible Projects
By Kafia A. Hosh

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Loudoun County officials are combing through the $787 billion federal stimulus package signed into law last week to see what public infrastructure projects in the county might be eligible.

The county's share of the school and transportation funds in the package remains unclear because the rules for distributing the money to localities have not been finalized, Loudoun officials said.

The rules for energy-saving projects are known, and officials are hopeful that Loudoun will get at least $1 million of that aid. The county can apply directly to the federal government for a share of a $3.2 billion energy efficiency and conservation block grant. Some of the grant money is set aside for the 10 most populous localities in each state, a category that includes Loudoun.

A Feb. 11 county staff report based on the House version of the stimulus package, which allocated $3.5 billion for the energy program, estimated Loudoun's share at $1.6 million.

In a wish list for federal stimulus funds that the Board of Supervisors approved last month, Loudoun identified $1.1 million in energy upgrades to the Claude Moore Recreation Center in Sterling and to the county government building, county courthouse, fire and rescue training center, the Shenandoah Building and the Department of Information Technology headquarters, all in Leesburg.

The improvements to the buildings would include energy-efficient lighting, water conservation measures and better insulation of windows and doors. The upgrades would lower the county government's utility bills by about $143,000 a year, according to a report from the board's Energy and Environment Committee.

The federal block grant program was established in 2007 but received no funding at the time. Climate Communities, a national coalition of local governments that includes Loudoun, had lobbied Congress to provide money.

"We're really very happy that the $3.2 billion was put into this program, and we've been preparing for it in the hopes that it would actually come through," said Supervisor Andrea McGimsey (D-Potomac), who heads the Energy and Environment Committee.

County officials are hopeful that the details they have compiled on how they would use the funds will boost their chances of getting aid.

The committee report shows that "we have some very good uses for these monies," said Diane O'Grady, staff liaison to the committee. "We're ready with projects that have been well thought-out, that have been well researched."

The wish list approved by supervisors last month totaled $744 million and included many road and school construction projects, such as $91.2 million to widen Route 659 between Route 7 and the Dulles Greenway, $83 million to build Tuscarora High School and $70.6 million to build Woodgrove High School.

County staff members said they expect to have enough information by next month to brief supervisors on which projects are likely to receive federal stimulus funds.

"We're trying to align our wish list with what may be available," said Assistant County Administrator John Sandy. "We're going to dust off our project list and see if any of that stuff lines up."

State and local governments in Virginia are expecting to get about $4 billion from the stimulus package. Education-related aid will most likely be allocated through the state and include some funding for school construction, Sandy said.

"That's one of the things that we have to basically look into, to determine how the monies are going to be arrayed," Sandy said. "We're going to work with the state."

Loudoun's share of transportation aid will depend on whether the money goes through the state or is distributed directly to regional planning districts, Sandy said, adding that Loudoun might fare better with the latter arrangement.

"We might be able to be a little more competitive [in Northern Virginia] as opposed to the state," he said.

Copyright 2009 The Washington Post Company

Richmond International Airport saw fewer fliers last year due to economy

By Peter Bacque

Published: February 23, 2009

Jon Mathiasen has had to make some tough decisions in recent months.

As the top executive at Richmond International Airport, he's cut employment 10 percent to 13 percent, clamped down on overtime and restricted purchases.

He even dropped the catered rolls and coffee for the monthly airport commission meetings.

"Traffic's down," he said. "And when traffic's down, it affects all of our sources of revenue."

The cutbacks come as Richmond International Airport -- and most of Virginia's eight other commercial airports -- face declining passenger traffic and revenue.

Richmond travelers have benefited from the fare competition produced by RIC's low-cost carriers, AirTran Airways and JetBlue Airways. But airport officials worry that Richmond-area passengers are not buying enough tickets on those airlines, putting their service in jeopardy.

Despite the downturn in travelers and income, Richmond International Airport -- with nine airlines providing 190 flights a day -- is still planning and building for expansion.

Work is under way, for instance, on a 2,600-vehicle space, $40million expansion of its north parking garage. A master plan calls for more runway capacity, terminal space and parking facilities to accommodate more growth.

The average passenger traffic among the state's nine commercial airports fell about 5 percent in 2008 compared with 2007.

Richmond's airport traffic declined 4 percent last year, to nearly 3.5 million passengers.

Roanoke's airport had the biggest decline among the state's airports, with passenger traffic falling 10.1 percent last year compared with 2007.

"The airline world goes as the economy goes," explained Keith McCrea, the Virginia Department of Aviation's air service and policy manager. "It's going to be directly tied to the level of economic activity that's driving the market."

When passenger traffic is down, an airport's income drops. "Passengers are the lifeblood of the airport," Mathiasen said.

Richmond expects to confront at least two years of recession-depressed traffic, Mathiasen said, before its traffic begins to grow again at about 5 percent a year.

. . .

Since airports like Richmond are overwhelmingly self-supporting for their operations -- no local tax dollars go to RIC -- airport executives have had to take steps to trim their budgets.

Richmond International had budgeted operating revenue of $42.4 million for the fiscal year that ends in June.

"We're not going to meet that," Mathiasen said. "Our net income is going to be off about 7 percent."

The slowdown at airports also is impacting those companies serving the traveling public.

Groome Transportation, which provides limo service to about 100,000 customers annually at Richmond International, saw a nearly 12 percent decline in its business last year, according to Vince Groome, the company's president. However, Groome said, "our business [profitability] is fine because we're managing our overhead" by cutting staff and equipment.

. . .

After AirTran came to Richmond International in 2005 and JetBlue entered the Richmond market in 2006, passenger traffic increased by 46 percent while average fares fell almost by half, airport officials said.

The discount carriers' competition helps keep fares in check, Mathiasen said.

But for JetBlue and AirTran, Mathiasen said, their riderships from Richmond are among the lowest of the cities that the two low-cost carriers serve.

In the use-it-or-lose-it airline world, every Richmond flight by the low-cost carriers needs to carry 12 to 15 more travelers, he said, in order to bring their passenger loads up to those airlines' system averages.

"Once a carrier leaves," Mathiasen said, "it could be a decade-long battle -- or longer -- to have a chance to woo [a low-cost carrier] back."

Keeping airfares down is incredibly important for the capital region's businesses, said Kim Scheeler, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Richmond Chamber.

Scheeler has joined Mathiasen in meeting with executives from the area's larger companies and urging them to consider all RIC's airlines when they book their corporate travel.

"It's really easy for companies to get locked into flying on XYZ Airlines all the time."

AirTran's Cynthia Tinsley-Douglas seconded that idea: "Continued support from the business community is critical for our success and our ability to increase RIC service."

Richmond's air service will probably hold up better than other locations in the country, said George Hoffer, an economics professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who studies the transportation industry. "I don't think we'd be in imminent danger of losing the low-cost carriers," Hoffer said, "because there are not many places where you have a better use for the airplanes."

. . .

Virginia's two largest fields, Washington Dulles International and Reagan Washington National airports, are critical nodes in the national airline system.

Dulles alone handles more than 800 domestic and international flights a day. Reflecting that large traffic volume, Dulles recently opened a $355 million runway, and plans call for a fifth runway at the Northern Virginia field.

Because it is one of the nation's largest hub airports, making sure Dulles has the capacity to handle more takeoffs and landings helps the closely intertwined national airspace system avoid traffic jams that can cause delays that ripple across the country.

Each airports' traffic was down 3.5 percent from their 2007 levels.

"The Washington airports suffered some capacity cutbacks," McCrea said, "but the service is so extensive up there you don't notice it."

. . .

Virginia's smaller commercial airports struggle to hold on to their markets, which frequently overlap with other airports.

"We are smaller than our neighbors on either side of us," said Jessica Wharton with Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, which experienced a passenger decline of 1 percent.

Yet Shenandoah Valley Airport, located between Harrisonburg and Staunton, saw its passenger traffic balloon 64 percent, from 9,200 passengers a year to 15,100.

The large increase sprang from simply replacing the 19-passenger aircraft on Shenandoah Valley's three daily flights to Dulles Airport with planes seating 34 passengers.

Norfolk International is comparable in size and service to Richmond's airport. And both have benefited from service by low-cost carriers, McCrea noted. Southwest Airlines serves Norfolk.

Wayne Shank, deputy executive director of the Norfolk Airport Authority, said an airport has little ability to influence the number of passengers using its facilities.

"A lot of it is outside our control," he said.

Even with fly-the-airport advertising campaigns, Shank said, "There's only so much you can do in an economic downturn."

Virginia eyes closing 25 rest stops

Virginia eyes closing 25 rest stops

By Jill Dunn

Virginia’s transportation department is considering closing 25 of its 41 rest stops as part of a plan to cope with a projected $2.6 billion shortfall.

The Virginia Department of Transportation presented this action as part of its “Blueprint for the Future” at the Commonwealth Transportation Board meeting outlining cuts to be made over the next six years.

VDOT will lay off 450 hourly employees statewide next month as its first step of cutting staffing costs and will continue staff reduction through 2010.

The department will hold meetings in March to obtain feedback on the proposed cuts before the CTB makes final plan decisions in June, said Jeff Caldwell, VDOT communications chief.

Department officials selected the rest stops to be closed based on age, condition, visitor count, available services, relationship to tourism and number of truck stops nearby. One rest area that will remain open is on Interstate 64 because it is the only rest stop between Richmond and Virginia Beach, Caldwell said.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Here's a plan that will really stimulate Virginia's economy

Here's a plan that will really stimulate Virginia's economy
February 22, 2009

Without a doubt, the economy and the subsequent decrease in available revenues are the most pressing problems facing all levels of government. The recent report from Virginia's Department of Planning and Budget indicates that the already reduced state revenues of $3.2 billion over the past three years will be reduced again by as much as another 15 percent or approximately another $400 million to $500 million.

The federal government's "stimulus" plan will more than likely provide Virginia with the revenue to restore the hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid, public education and higher education reductions already proposed by Gov. Tim Kaine.

It is also very possible that the federal stimulus funding for Virginia will offset the additional decrease in revenues which will be announced by Kaine.

Unfortunately, this federal stimulus funding is short-term at best, because the federal plan does little to stimulate the economy or create new private-sector jobs for American workers.

Because this economic downturn was predictable for the past several years, the Virginia General Assembly has passed several comprehensive economic stimulus initiatives that focus on improving the public infrastructure and creating incentives for job creation within the private sector.

In 2007, the General Assembly passed legislation that provided for $3 billion in bonds over 10 years for transportation construction. The General Assembly also increased the vehicle registration fee and the diesel fuel per-gallon tax and dedicated one-third of the insurance premiums tax to the Transportation Trust Fund.

This additional revenue provides more funding to address improvements to the transportation infrastructure. More specifically, this legislation also provided significant funding to improve rail transportation from the ports in Hampton Roads to connections with the Heartland Corridor, which is a major transportation artery for the transport of goods across America.

In 2008, the higher education bond package provided $2.6 billion for capital projects at Virginia's colleges and universities and other state facilities. Legislation also passed that authorized up to $350.5 million in revenue-producing projects at certain institutions of higher education.

So far during the 2009 session, the House and Senate have passed the Advanced Shipbuilding Performance Grants program. The House has passed legislation to extend the major business facilities job tax credit until 2020 and approved legislation that authorizes the Virginia Public Building Authority and the Virginia Resources Authority to finance economic development initiatives for major employment and investment projects performed by state and local government entities.

In each instance, these initiatives provide a real incentive to private business and industry for high-impact regional economic development projects in which the private entity makes a significant capital investment, creates hundreds of new, full-time jobs, and is expected to have a substantial direct economic impact on surrounding communities.

In addition, the House budget included $3 million more to promote tourism, $12.5 million for detailed planning to accelerate five major capital projects on various public college campuses, and $1.5 million for work-force development. The House has also taken the lead in funding the Virginia Coastal Research Energy Consortium that is working on alternative energy sources from wind, waves and biomass.

Rather than just talk about the need for an economic stimulus, the General Assembly has been proactive in creating an environment that clearly says, "Virginia is Open for Business."

Ranked as the "Best Managed" state in the nation and the best place to raise and educate a child, the commonwealth has a solid record for working to actually stimulate the Virginia economy without increasing government spending that does little more than create more public-sector jobs.

As a right-to-work state with responsible tax and regulatory policies, Virginia is poised to weather this economic downturn for both the short- and long-term benefit of the commonwealth.

Hamilton, who represents the 93rd District in the House of Delegates, is vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and a member of the conference committee that will resolve differences between the House and Senate budgets.

Vote to Forgo I-66 Expansion Imperils Federal Funds, Increases Ire

Vote to Forgo I-66 Expansion Imperils Federal Funds, Increases Ire

By Eric M. Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 20, 2009; B03

The decision this week to abandon plans to widen Interstate 66 inside the Capitol Beltway inflamed tensions between transit-friendly inner jurisdictions and auto-dependent outer counties and jeopardized $30 million in federal funds.

The vote by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government's Transportation Planning Board caught many by surprise. The $75 million project was approved 23 to 4 in May 2007. The turnabout reflected perceived foot-dragging by the Virginia Department of Transportation on a study of all transportation alternatives in the I-66 corridor, board members and staff said.

Chris Zimmerman, an Arlington County Board member who serves on the transportation panel, made the motion to table the project after a VDOT official said the full study was unfunded and would take at least three to four years to complete.

"It was, 'Oh, that's not funded?' That offended a lot of people. . . . Then what are we doing here? It indicated a certain amount of contempt for the process that took a lot of people by surprise," Zimmerman said.

The I-66 project would connect a series of acceleration and deceleration lanes, effectively widening the westbound road from two to three lanes between Fairfax Drive and Sycamore Street and expanding it between Washington Boulevard and the Dulles Airport Access Road from three lanes to four.

The first phase of the widening, a 1.5-mile stretch from Fairfax Drive to Sycamore, was scheduled to start next year. State transportation officials said the project would be delayed at least three to four years, the amount of time it would take to do a full environmental assessment of the corridor. Only $1.5 million of the estimated $15 million cost of the study is funded. VDOT officials said the project was never contingent on a full-blown study.

Now, Virginia officials are scrambling to save the project and a $30 million federal earmark sponsored by Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) and former representative Tom Davis (R). Expanding I-66 has long been opposed by Arlington leaders and transit advocates, who say a wider road would bring more traffic and pollution to their community. The idea of widening I-66 inside the Beltway has been discussed since the 10-mile stretch of the interstate opened in 1982. At the time, Arlington officials agreed to its construction in exchange for certain promises, including a four-lane limit.

"It's being rammed down our throats by Congressman Wolf, and it isn't even his district," said Peter Harnik, who lives in the Maywood section of Arlington. "We need to be wiser, not wider."

Project supporters say I-66 has become a regional choke point. Widening it would improve traffic for commuters heading west in the evening and for drivers heading to the Dulles corridor in the morning. They said the additional lane would provide a better evacuation route during an emergency.

"This is the same old, same old from Arlington," said Dan Scandling, a spokesman for Wolf. "Anything they can do to jam up this project, they will. You've got $30 million sitting on the table to improve transportation in Virginia. And there is already mass transit in the corridor, and no homes will be taken."

But the swing votes during Wednesday's meeting turned out to be Fairfax County's. Both of Fairfax's representatives on the panel, county supervisors Catherine M. Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) and Linda Q. Smyth (D-Providence), voted against the project and for Zimmerman's amendment. If they had switched votes, the project would have proceeded.

The vote removed the I-66 project from the regional list of approved projects for next year's transportation improvement plan. The issue could be revisited as early as next month.

Va. Department of Transportation to cut 450 jobs

Va. Department of Transportation to cut 450 jobs


State highway officials said Thursday that they plan to give pink slips to 450 hourly employees next month, in addition to already announced cuts of 1,000 full-time transportation positions.

The staff reductions are part of a larger plan by the Virginia Department of Transportation that also may include reduced services on the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry and the roadside assistance program in Hampton Roads.

The cutbacks are a few of the changes being considered to offset the projected $2.6 billion shortfall in state transportation revenue over the next six years.

Other proposals state highway officials are considering include closing 25 of the state's 41 rest areas, changing mowing

standards for grassy highway medians and consolidating some regional transportation residencies and equipment shops.

The proposed job cuts and service changes were detailed at the Commonwealth Transportation Board meeting Thursday.

State transportation officials will present those and other ideas at a series of public meetings scheduled in the coming months.

The service cuts, if adopted, would likely take effect in July.

"Motorist safety and emergency response continue to be VDOT's top priorities," state transportation department Commissioner David S. Ekern said in a written statement. "However, VDOT will be smaller and focused solely on core services and commitments."

Dwindling money for roads and the growing cost of construction have brought the state highway department to a crossroads. In response, the agency is transforming itself.

It will still build new roads, though future projects may increasingly be accomplished with the help of private companies or require tolls.

VDOT officials said their current work force of about 9,000 employees will be cut to about 7,500 by July 1, 2010.

Julian Walker, (804) 697-1564,

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Passenger train’s chances improve, Newman says

By Ray Reed

Published: February 3, 2009

RICHMOND — Lynchburg’s chances of getting a new daily passenger train to Washington looked better Tuesday than they did last week, according to Sen. Steve Newman, R-Lynchburg.

Newman said he had talked to other senators, including Sen. William Wampler, R-Bristol, about a move Wampler made recently that could block the train’s start until the state funds a train all the way to Bristol.

“I think we have had very good movement getting back on track, and I’m hopeful that we will be able to maintain the TransDominion Express on the Senate side” of the state budget-making process, Newman said.

The TransDominion Express is a long-studied concept for passenger rail service from Bristol to Rich-mond and Washington, but state rail officials say only part of it can be funded now.

About $17 million is available for a two-year pilot project to operate a new daily train from Lynchburg to Washington and another train from Richmond to Washington, starting next fall.

“I’m making sure we work with Senator Wampler and other legislators to get there,” Newman said.

Wampler also deserves credit for contributions he’s made in the past to get the TransDominion Express included in the statewide rail plan, Newman said.

“Senator Wampler is the great-grandfather of our TransDominion Express project,” Newman said.

“He has brought us from nothing to where we are today,” making sure $10 million in state funds were provided several years ago for planning the route.

“He kept the project alive” when people from Richmond and Tidewater tried to kill it in favor of “their own train,” Newman said.

Wampler’s budget amendment would block state funds for “construction of any segment of the Trans-Dominion Express” until “funding for all sections of the corridor from Bristol to Washington, D.C./Richmond is included within the Statewide Rail Plan.”

Del. Shannon Valentine, D-Lynchburg, said Tuesday that efforts were under way on several fronts to get plans for the TransDominion Express in shape for meetings of the Commonwealth Transportation Board Thursday and Feb. 19. That policy-making board would make the final decision on starting the train.

“There are many conversations taking place within the governor’s office,” the General Assembly and state transportation agencies, Valentine said.

The Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce and other citizen groups have participated, Valentine said, and while Wampler’s budget amendment is one issue, other details are being worked on with Amtrak and Norfolk Southern Corp., which owns the tracks.

“The work to bring forward these two rail projects (Lynchburg to Washington and Richmond to Wash-ington) has been a true, cooperative effort on every level,” Valentine said.

Newman said he could understand Wampler’s concern about Bristol not being included in the initial funding for the passenger train.

“I’m going to be as committed as I can be to the Bristol portion if we get our part done,” Newman said.

Tax raised on hybrid cars; aircraft rate unchanged

The tax on hybrids and alternative-fuel vehicles is going up.

The Board of Supervisors voted 7-2 Feb. 3 to raise the current rate on those vehicles from 1 cent per $100 assessed value to $1. The new rate is still $3.20 less than traditional auto owners pay in the county.

The penny tax rate was set to promote the purchase of more environmentally friendly transportation, said Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge).

“We don't need to incentivize these vehicles,” he said. “The market has taken care of that.”

Before the vote, Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) asked that the board consider raising the tax on alternative-fuel vehicles and hybrids to match that on regular cars.

Chairman Scott York (I-at large), who seconded Delgaudio's substitute motion, said the county is subsidizing people who are getting better mileage.

“That's not fair,” he said.

Delgaudio's motion failed.

The rate increase will generate about $600,000 a year, according to county staff.

The annual tax bill on a car assessed at $20,000 will increase from $2 a year to $200 a year. Those paying the $4.20 rate on a traditional $20,000 car pay $840 a year.


Meanwhile, the tax on aircraft housed in the county will stay the same.

The board on Feb. 3 voted 8-1, with Delgaudio against, to keep that rate unchanged.

During a board meeting in January, board members were visited by local airport officials and aviation enthusiasts, urging members not to raise the aircraft tax.

Tom Toth, of the Leesburg Airport Commission, quantified the potential loss of income if the tax was raised.

“We have at least $100 million in economic benefit between Leesburg and Dulles [airports],” Toth said. “All we need, at a quarter [tax rate], is 1 percent of the aircraft to leave, and we will totally negate what that 25 cents would bring in.”

Board members who voted for maintaining the tax rate agreed that the losses far outweighed the benefits to the tax base in this case.

Contact the reporter at
Times Community © 2007 | Loudoun Times-Mirror

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Transportation Committee Sets Agenda

1/21/2009 Ari Natter Associate Editor

Infrastructure investment, transportation safety and security, and global climate change will be among the top priorities of the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the 111th Congress, its chair said last week.

"There is almost as much for us to do as we did in the last Congress because of bills we passed but the Senate didn't act on," Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., said during a Committee meeting Jan. 15.

Oberstar said the committee will also be consumed with Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization legislation, and "the big bill" - surface transportation reauthorization legislation that could spend as much as $500 billion.
Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., the chair of the highways and transit subcommittee, said the bill, in addition to providing "adequate funding" would focus on "making the whole system more truly intermodal."

The committee plans to hold hearings on "Energy Reduction and Environmental Sustainability in Surface Transportation" Jan. 27 as well as a hearing on freight and passenger rail for Jan. 28.

From Traffic World On-Line.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What exactly is Car Sharing?

Car sharing allows individuals to use cars for a short amount of time—hours, instead of the days required by conventional car rental companies. With car sharing, drivers only pay for what they use, making car sharing a less expensive alternative to owning, leasing, or renting a car. Car sharing rates include gas, mileage, insurance, and maintenance costs. Vehicles can be reserved 24 hours a day via phone or Internet and can be used for any amount of time, from a few hours to a few days. Once a reservation is made, the reserved car can be opened using a personalized key and/or code. Keys are only available to members and can open car doors only after a reservation has been made. Reservations are sent wirelessly to the cars so they will open only for the right person with the right key at the right time.

Access to a vehicle when needed
Can assist employers in augmented company vehicle fleets
Ease of reservation process
Low cost
Convenient locations to transit
Less expensive than car ownership; ideal for those who don’t own a car
Less expensive for businesses than maintaining a fleet of vehicles
Helps to increase use of transit
Use of low emission vehicles, including hybrids, helps to reduce air pollution
Can serve as a Guaranteed Ride Home alternative for some companies

Locals asked to stay off Beltway for inauguration

January 13, 2009 - 5:09pm

WASHINGTON - Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is adding another major route to an already unprecedented list of inauguration road closures and traffic restrictions.

O'Malley's latest recommendation - the Beltway - may be hard for a lot of people to swallow.

"For those of you who are Marylanders, on Inauguration Day, if there is any way that you can avoid traveling on 495, you would be doing all of your neighbors who are coming from around the country to attend the inauguration a tremendous service," O'Malley said at a high-level news conference Tuesday.

O'Malley said the Beltway cuts right through the most densely-populated parts of Maryland, but will be counted on to carry a great volume of diverted traffic on Jan. 20.

Meanwhile, the inauguration isn't just putting a strain on traffic in our region - it's having a big impact on local budgets.

O'Malley, Va. Gov. Tim Kaine and D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty are requesting federal money to help pay for the inauguration.

So how much is the inauguration costing taxpayers in D.C., Md. and Virginia?

Fenty puts the price tag for local governments at $75 million.

On Tuesday afternoon, President George Bush declared an emergency in the District to give the nation's capital more access to federal money for the inauguration.

In the past, the national capital region has never been fully reimbursed for national security events like the inauguration.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Inauguration Security to be Highest Ever


Inauguration, The Obama Presidency
(Jan. 15) - This year's inauguration is expected to set many records: the largest crowds, most bridges closed and highest security of any presidential swearing-in.
Barack Obama's inauguration Tuesday is considered a National Special Security Event, a federal designation that puts the Secret Service in charge of security for the entire day. But this year the special security tag has been extended to four days, starting when the president-elect starts making his way to Washington from Philadelphia by train Saturday.

"It will be the most security, as far as I'm aware, that any inauguration's had," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

Intelligence officials say there are no specific threats to the inauguration. But the high visibility of the event, the presence of dignitaries and the significance of swearing in the first black president make it a vulnerable target.
Bridges into Washington and about 3.5 square miles of downtown will be closed Tuesday. The security perimeter covers more of the city than in previous inaugurations.

Thousands of extra police, military troops and law enforcement agents, including plain clothes officers roaming the crowds, will be on hand to handle the potentially 2 million people who could descend on the nation's capital.

People attending the ceremony and parade can expect to be searched by machines, security personnel or both. Precautions will range from the routine — magnetometers, like those used at airports — to countersnipers trained to hit a target the size of a teacup saucer from 1,000 yards away.

There will be undercover officers, bomb sniffing dogs and air patrols. Washington's 5,265 surveillance cameras, spread around the city, are expected to be fed into a multi-agency command center. Including the Secret Service, 58 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are providing security.

"We're nearing the event and all of the planning that we've been doing for all this time is starting to come together," Secret Service spokesman Malcolm Wiley said.
The agency is the overall lead for security, but issues and operational decisions are handled collaboratively by all involved, Wiley said.

Security commanders will be a central command center. As different situations arise, they will talk to each other about how to address them. If a decision is made, for instance, to use tear gas, the commander of the jurisdiction of the incident will give instructions. So if the incident is on the National Mall, it would be the Park Police communicating the orders to the officers in the field.

Chertoff, whose department includes the Secret Service, will not leave his position until the day after Obama is sworn in. Chertoff will be the only member of President Bush's Cabinet — except Defense Secretary Robert Gates, whom Obama asked to keep that job — to remain in his position after Bush leaves office.

Thousands of officers from 40 police jurisdictions will line the 137-mile route from Philadelphia to Washington on Saturday. Crowds are expected to gather at numerous spots, including overpasses, parking lots and commuter train stations. Obama is retracing the journey of Abraham Lincoln, who also rode to his inauguration on a train from Philadelphia. Lincoln was smuggled under cover of darkness from one train station to another to avoid a feared assassination attempt.

The Metropolitan Police Department's 4,100 officers and an additional 4,064 officers from police departments across the country will be on duty, said John Cohen, a senior adviser in the terrorism information sharing office of the director of national intelligence. Cohen said they have all completed a special online training course to help them detect and report suspicious activity that could be related to terrorism, such as photographing restricted sites, collecting information about secure areas and stealing official uniforms.

The city has also trained some employees in the public works department, said Patrick Burke, the police department's assistant chief for homeland security. "The purpose is to get as many people collecting suspicious activity reporting as possible," Burke said.

The FBI has started a system to share tips about possible terrorist threats with local police agencies.

For the first time, the president declared an emergency in the District of Columbia in advance of the inauguration. That will cover 100 percent of eligible local inauguration costs for emergency protective measures on Tuesday. It is in addition to the $15 million Congress set aside for Washington inauguration security costs.
The large crowds predicted for the events raise logistical, security and public safety concerns.

"It only takes a minor event to create a stampede of people," said Wendell Shingler, former director of the Federal Protective Service, which provides security around government buildings.

Messaging System in Place for Metro Residents during Innauguration - Get Critical Announcements

Residents and visitors can enroll in Alert DC or Arlington Alert for timely alerts and critical announcements during Inaugural Week
PR Newswire

ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- With 2 million people expected to attend the historic swearing in of President-elect Barack Obama, 58 law enforcement agencies in the District of Columbia (DC) and surrounding jurisdictions will rely on Alert DC, an interoperable emergency text messaging system provided by Cooper Notification, to coordinate the largest security and safety operation for a presidential inauguration in the nation's history. Cooper Notification is a platform of Cooper Industries, Ltd., (NYSE: CBE).

Powered by Cooper Notification's patented Roam Secure Alert Network(TM) (RSAN(TM)), the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) and their counterparts in surrounding counties and cities will be able to efficiently respond to threats by sending text messages to coordinate security and emergency efforts among the different law enforcement agencies, including the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), US Secret Service, US Capitol Police, and the US Military or targeted groups such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Law enforcement personnel can reply to alerts through RSAN's two-way communications system.

Alert DC was launched in 2002 to quickly mobilize first responders and key personnel. "What better way to communicate to all of the different agencies during the largest security operation than with an interoperable system that has been reliable and effective for DC HSEMA and the MPD for more than five years," said Ratna Reddi, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, Cooper Notification.

To create a safer and more secure environment for the 56th Presidential Inauguration, Alert DC will also allow officials to communicate emergency information to the public via text messages during the four-day ceremony at the nation's capitol, where more than 70 inaugural events will take place from
Jan. 18 - 21.

"If you plan on joining the hundreds of thousands of people attending the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama or will just be visiting DC during this time frame, we encourage you to sign up for Alert DC or Arlington Alert," said Reddi. "Alert DC and Arlington Alert will help you prepare and respond to emergencies. Alerts aren't limited to violence and terrorism. You can also receive information on inclement weather, road closures and transportation issues."

Residents and visitors in the Washington DC area can sign up for Alert DC at
or can be automatically enrolled by texting DC to 411911 from a text-enabled device.

Arlington, Va. residents and visitors can sign up for Arlington Alert at or by texting 1801 to 411911. Those wishing to receive alerts only during the Inauguration period can do so by checking "Inaugural Alerts" on the registration page.

Cooper Notification has deployed more than 230 RSAN systems across the United States, including major metropolitan areas in Orlando, New Orleans,
Philadelphia, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as state agencies, colleges, airports, and hospitals. Added Reddi, "The 2009 inaugural activities represent another instance where the superior technology and innovation of RSAN will be used to streamline communication and enable safety when it matters most."

About Cooper Notification
Cooper Notification, a solution platform of The Cooper Safety Division, is comprised of several businesses with decades of experience and innovation in the development of high quality products and solutions. With the ever present need to protect, alert and inform, Cooper Notification is focused on meeting the growing demand for personnel and property safety. We are the source for notification solutions supporting Fire, Security, Hazardous area, Mass Notification, Voice evacuation and Industrial Signaling applications and operating under the powerful global brands of Fulleon, MEDC, Roam Secure, SAFEPATH, WAVES and Wheelock. For more information, visit the web site at .

About Cooper Industries
Cooper Industries, Ltd. (NYSE: CBE) is a global manufacturer with 2007 revenues of $5.9 billion, approximately 87% of which are from electrical products. Founded in 1833, Cooper's sustained level of success is attributable to a constant focus on innovation, evolving business practices while maintaining the highest ethical standards, and meeting customer needs. The Company has eight operating divisions with leading market share positions and world-class products and brands including: Bussmann electrical and electronic fuses; Crouse-Hinds and CEAG explosion-proof electrical equipment; Halo and Metalux lighting fixtures; and Kyle and McGraw-Edison power systems products. With this broad range of products, Cooper is uniquely positioned for several long-term growth trends including the global infrastructure build- out, the need to improve the reliability and productivity of the electric grid, the demand for higher energy-efficient products and the need for improved electrical safety. In 2007, sixty percent of total sales were to customers in the industrial and utility end-markets and 34% of total sales were to customers outside the United States. Cooper, which has more than 31,500 employees and manufacturing facilities in 23 countries as of 2007, is incorporated in Bermuda with administrative headquarters in Houston, TX.
For more information, visit the web site at .
For information contact: Marla Moran 941.487.2300 ext. 2318

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dulles Rail Project Moving Toward March Construction Start

The Dulles Metrorail Project, a new 23-mile transit line connecting Northern Virginia to the rest of the region, is moving into its final phase. The Federal Transit Administration is expected to soon forward a recommendation of approval to U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and to the Office of Management and Budget for a final decision, which would be a significant milestone for the project.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) previously announced construction has been approved to start on March 2, 2009 at a renegotiated contract price of $1.63 billion. Ownership of the Dulles Toll Road was transferred from the Commonwealth of Virginia to MWAA on November 1, 2008.

The project will be built in two phases. The first phase will extend Metro from the Orange Line between East and West Falls Church stations to Wiehle Avenue and includes four stations in Tysons Corner. The expected completion date for Phase 1 is July 31, 2013. Phase 2 would extend Metro through Reston and Herndon to Dulles Airport and Route 772 in Loudoun County.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is committed to bringing rail to the Dulles Corridor, and is continuing to work with all of its partners to ensure the timely completion of this project.

For more information about this project, visit the MetroRail webpage by clicking HERE.