MWAA toll funded Dulles Rail Phase 2 to drop union preference in contracting
By Peter Samuel
2012-06-06: The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority after nearly two years of insisting on union-preferences in its construction contracts today executed an abrupt policy U-turn, voting 11 to 1 to go to procurement without the favor for unions - termed a 'project labor agreement' (PLA.)
A statement released by MWAA says: "This is a milestone vote as it resolves an ongoing issue with the Commonwealth (state) of Virginia and ensures the timely advancement of Phase 2 of the rail project."
The project is due to get over half its $2.7b funding from Dulles Toll Road toll revenue bonds - bonds in which the revenues of the toll road are pledged to service the rail line debt.
The MWAA statement says that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has pledged that Virginia will provide $150 million of funding to the project in early 2013 now that the PLA has been eliminated.
In addition they eliminate a lawsuit by the Virginia attorney-general Ken Cuccinelli who said the PLA previously proposed contravenes Virginia's right-to-work laws. The decision also makes it more likely that that Loudoun County will decide to participate in Phase 2.
Most significantly it could attract more builders to bid and reduce costs by something of the order of 5 to 10% saving $135m to $270m in upfront cost.
"Turning point for the rail project..."
MWAA chairman Michael A. Curto is quoted: "Today's vote is a major turning point for the Dulles rail project. This project is vital to the economic growth of this region and the Board is determined to do whatever is necessary to finish the project as quickly and cost effectively as possible"
Thomas M. Davis, vice-chairman of the airports authority and chairman of the Dulles Corridor Committee: "Dropping the PLA preference was what we needed to do to move forward with this project and with our funding partners. This has brought us all closer to recognizing that this project is important to the entire region and requires a team effort."
The MWAA decision to dump union preference came only 12 hours after the victory of Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin and voter endorsement of his ending of union privileges in a fiercely fought 'recall' election.
The resolution is 12-16 under 2012: