Metro extensions to eastern Prince William, and the Tooth Fairy…

Like the idea of a Metrorail extension to Woodbridge, even to Potomac Mills?  Think that an extension of the Blue Line is the simple answer, the “silver bullet” to solve all of our congestion issues?  If the entire crowd in the carpool can figure this out during casual conversation while commuting, why can’t those silly politicians just make it happen?

And do you expect the Federal and state governments will pay for the extension, because we have so many cars crowding I-95 and there are so many Federal employees in them, commuting north to jobs in Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria, and DC?

As much as I’d like to see the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus bring something for nothing… it ain’t gonna happen.  Prince William businesses, and probably homeowners, will have to dig into their pockets if we want to get Metrorail to run down the Route 1 corridor.  Expect to dig deep, perhaps pay $$$ billions of extra taxes in order to get extra services.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and no such thing as a free Metrorail extension.  Pay attention to how Fairfax County is financing the Silver Line extension to Dulles Airport.  According to the Washington Business Journal,  Fairfax will pay a total of $846 million.  Property owners in Tysons Corner will foot a hefty percentage; commercial property owners long ago agreed to be part of the Dulles Corridor Phase I Special Improvement Tax District.

A judge just approved the county selling $400 million in bonds, which commercial property tax owners will repay.  Tysons is filled with high-rent office buildings, occupied by Pentagon-funded and Internet-based contractors.  The commercial property owners there can jack up the rent to cover the extra costs to finance a share of Dulles Corridor Phase I, because the customers will pay to be located halfway between Dulles and DC.

Now take a look at the landowners in Prince William between the Occoquan River and Potomac Mills.  Note the… ugh, large number of 20-story Class A office buildings bulging with space-hungry, expanding businesses near Belmont, Horner Road, Dale Boulevard.  (Pay no attention to the vacancy rates, or the types of businesses along Route 1 today.)

In your next carpool conversation, talk about who you think will voluntarily join “PW County Corridor Phase I Special Improvement Tax District” and increase their property taxes.   Discuss how the current landowners can afford to pick up a $500 million-$1.5 billion tab.   Take bets on how long it will take for the Washington Post, the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, the Chambers of Commerce, the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, and the other usual suspects to call for everyone in the county, from Gainesville to Dumfries, to pay more in local property taxes in order to finance the local PW County share of Metrorail extension.

And just to keep the discussion entertaining, try out a few “if I were in charge, I’d say” statements.  How would your carpool convince people who live on the other end of the county, people who won’t be riding the Blue Line to work, to endorse higher local property taxes county-wide in order to pay the local costs of a Metrorail extension?

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