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Wolf, Union Workers Clash at Press Conference

Congressman Frank Wolf said he wants MWAA to reverse its decision to build an underground rail station at Dulles Airport

Representative Frank Wolf (R-10) held a press conference Monday to urge the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to overturn their decision to build an underground station for Metrorail at the Dulles Airport.

Wolf, who represents the Wolftrap part of Vienna, said he supports mass transit in the Dulles corridor, . At the conference outside his Herndon office, he said having an above ground station would have saved more than $300 million.

Wolf also said he would like MWAA to reverse its decision to use a Project Labor Agreement. He said the PLA will increase the overall cost of Phase 2 of the Metrorail project.

“Forcing area residents, particularly people living in Western Fairfax and Loudoun, to pay the tolls necessary to cover these extra costs is irresponsible,” Wolf said. He said by 2027 the cost of a one-way trip on the toll road will be $11.

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York said the Loudoun County board wants to see the project completed, but does not want the project to cost an “exorbitant amount of money” that will have to be covered by toll road users.

According to a press release from Wolf the PLA will require all construction contracts associated with the project to be awarded to unionized firms. “Several large contractors already have indicated they will not submit a bid for Phase 2 if there is a PLA,” the release stated.

However, according to the National Heavy & Highway Coalition, a PLA will help ensure the project is completed by skilled and trained workers, and that those workers be paid a far wage and receive health care benefits.

Members of area unions and construction workers came to the press conference to express their disagreement with Wolf. They shouted that they should be able to get fair wages and health care benefits and chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, corporate greed has got to go.”

One dissenter shouted, “It’s 90 percent union and there are no cost overruns, imagine that,” referencing Phase 1 of the Dulles Metrorail Project. Others asked why Wolf doesn’t take a pay cut and why he would want his constituents to make less money.

Rick Porter, executive director of NHHC, said having a PLA is important because it provides rules for all contractors to work under to ensure the project is completed safely, on time and within budget. He said having the PLA will also benefit taxpayers because it will ensure the project is built well and will not require major maintenance for a long time.

According to a flier passed out by NHHC, Phase 1 of Dulles Rail used PLAs and finished on budget and on time with every project deadline met and no cost overruns with no fatalities.

The flier compares it to the Springfield Mixing Bowl project, which had no PLA and had three fatalities, was over budget, was delayed, and had $350 million in cost overruns.

After the press conference, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova sent out a statement. She said, “To blame the higher estimated cost of Phase II on wages is a red herring since Davis-Bacon rates were applied in the preliminary (lower) cost estimate of $2.5 billion. The higher costs estimated for Phase II are attributable to a more thorough engineering and design assessment and the decision by MWAA to support a more expensive station alignment.”

“That is what this conversation should be about. To blame the higher estimates on wages is a fallacy,” the statement continued. “The laborers and skilled tradesman that will build Phase II of the Dulles rail project deserve to be paid a fair and equitable wage.”

Ben Andrews April 19, 2011 at 10:06 PM
Only allowing unionized companies to bid has nothing to do with quality workers or safety. It is about politics. Virginia is a right-to-work state and the PLA should not be allowed.
Carole Yoho April 20, 2011 at 01:14 PM
Agree. Virginia as a right-to-work state should not be forced to pay for union workers

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