“Metrorail-to-Dulles hasn't attained the legendary status of the Big Dig yet,” writes James Bacon in a Washington Times oped. “ But give it time.”
Notwithstandiing the “prairie fire of protest across Fairfax and Loudoun counties” over the transit project’s escalating price tag and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s (MWAA) boneheaded decision to require a Project Labor Agreement in a right-to-work state, Bacon lasers in on the fundamental illegality of former governor Tim Kaine’s decision to hand over the Dulles Toll Road, a revenue-producing state asset, to the unelected MWAA Board without the consent of the General Assembly:
“The core problem is not the quality of MWAA decisions nor that Virginia lacks sufficient representation on its board. It’s that neither the U.S. nor Virginia constitutions give MWAA the power to tax in the first place,” Bacon writes.
A federal lawsuit is challenging MWAA’s authority to collect tolls beyond what is needed to maintain the paid-for road.
“Once MWAA set rates higher than needed to fund the road and began funneling those excess revenues toward an entirely different use, the construction of Dulles Metrorail, the rates become a tax, the suit argues.”
The future of Dulles Rail Phase 2 is riding on the disposition of the lawsuit, which will be heard in Alexandria’s federal court next Thursday. As Bacon correctly points out, “a ruling for the plaintiffs, declaring the transfer to MWAA to be unconstitutional, would torpedo Metrorail-to-Dulles.”
What he doesn’t say is that a ruling for MWAA will further divorce the government’s taxing power from the ballot box, and inevitably lead to a flurry of new quasi-governmental bodies that have the power to tax - and thus the power to destroy - without any accountability to the public whatsoever.