Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oberstar Talks Process

Congressman Oberstar (D-MN) is the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the House so it makes these comments promising given he'll more than likely be there when the next transportation bill gets moving.
"What is wrong with us? Are we a third world country?"
But the Dulles rail proponents are hitting a similar wall with rail to Dulles Airport and beyond. Oberstar said negotiations over the project – when it appeared as if the federal government might pull its funding – made it clear that the Bush administration was not supportive of the project.

As with light rail in Minneapolis, the federal administration has not used the appropriate criteria to measure and rate the project. He said they deliberately threw out factors like energy consumption and cost to the commuters when evaluating Dulles rail and other projects.

If those benefits could have been left in the financial analysis of the project, the cost effectiveness of the Dulles rail project – which has been criticized for its "medium low" rating – could be higher, said Oberstar.

Additional factors that should have been part of the Dulles rail project analysis may also have lead the federal government to conclude that tunnel option was cost effective. Currently, the federal, state and local governments are pursuing an "above ground" option because the tunnel option was deemed too expensive and would stall the project significantly.
This is what we have been talking about for the last year and a half. The measurements for cost effectiveness are all messed up and doesn't track the true benefits of rail construction. The federal formulas were created to compare transit to roads, and we know its apples and oranges. I'm glad that Sheriff Oberstar is on our side.


Gleb said...

I feel like we are fighting a fool's battle with Dulles Rail. The fact is, subway service to Dulles airport doesn't make sense.

Service to Tyson's Corner does, that is what all of us in the pro-transit community have been fired up about. But Dulles is too far away and the line will lead to too much congestion without the badly needed expansions in the core of the DC Metro system.

We should be expending this energy in support of urbanity-building rail. Dulles rail service is a highway on steel, and will have the same sprawl effects.

High speed commuter service to Dulles makes sense, not Metrorail service.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

After flying into Dulles last week I sort of agree with you. It would be nice to have a connection by metrorail but its really far away. I think you could go further out than Tyson's though because of all the somewhat dense employment along the freeway towards Wiehle.

I think the most important thing though is to have a rail line or a bus service that is so frequent from the front of the terminal that you don't need to think about timetables. If what is happening now is correct, air travel is going to be in trouble anyways.