RESTON, Va. (WUSA) - Metro Rail's Silver Line is well underway, but whether it stops in Reston or continues to Dulles Airport is up in the air. Phase II is supposed to include two stops in Loudoun County along the Greenway.
But Loudoun Supervisors may not let that happen. The board will vote in July whether to accept the millions of dollars in costs to bring Metro Rail into Loudoun, or to opt out.
"I don't have anything against Rail to Dulles, I think it should go to the airport and stop there. I just don't think Loudoun residents benefit from it," said Supervisor Ken Reid who is still unconvinced after listening to George Mason University economist Stephen Fuller.
Only three of Loudoun County's nine supervisors came to hear Fuller's dire economic projections on Wednesday for NOT building rail into Loudoun.
"It's whether or not Loudoun County wants to be part of the party. And, otherwise, the outcome is more residential development with less commercial development with a higher tax burden for residents. It's a no-brainer," said Fuller.
Fuller says with rail, Loudoun will attract high-density development that will bring tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. Without rail, his study found that by 2040, Loudoun will miss out on more than $200-billion in economic growth.
If rail doesn't go into Loudoun, those businesses with high-paying jobs will locate elsewhere, leaving Loudoun a 'bedroom' county and not a destination Fuller says. Maybe they'll go Fairfax County, maybe Maryland, maybe California, he says.
Supervisor Ralph Buona supports the project. "It's clear cut to me. It's a once-in-a-century opportunity," said Buona.
Supervisor Suzanne Volpe is on the fence. She wants the labor preference removed from Phase II, though she could not explain why that mattered specifically to her constituents. "You want everyone to have an equal playing field and Virginia is a right to work state," said Volpe.
Loudoun Delegate Tag Greason supports the projects and says he'll try to convince the Loudoun board to get on board. "We are going to have an economic impact of $272 billion, how can you ignore that?" he said.
Ken Reid also criticized Fuller's study calling his findings "pie in the sky" calculations. He questioned where Fuller got his economic development numbers and then said the study is suspect because it was funded by Loudoun property owners who will benefit from rail.
Fuller took issue with those criticisms. He said the money for the study was not paid to him but to the foundation he works with. And as far the the numbers he used, "I didn't invent them," saying they came from the COG, Council of Governments and Loudoun County itself.