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This blog focuses on real estate, land use and construction-related topics affecting Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area. With topics ranging from contract drafting and negotiation to local and regional land use project updates, the attorneys at Bean, Kinney & Korman provide timely insight and commentary on the issues affecting owners, builders, developers, contractors, subcontractors and other players in the industry. If you are interested in having us cover a specific topic, please let us know.

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Posts in Transportation.

blackjackArlington County has moved to sue yet another individual transportation official in its pending HOT lanes project in federal court in the District of Columbia.  The pending case, a fight over the HOT/HOV lanes in I-395, argues that VDOT and the US Department of Transportation failed to undertake appropriate traffic, environmental, and other studies in approving the northern section of the project.

We are very enthused to announce that I have been asked to regularly post as a guest blogger with the Washington Business Journal.  WBJ is one of our very favorite sources of information, news and commentary regarding business, law and real estate.  The guest blog spots will be weekly and part of their Biz Beat page alongside posts by WBJ reporters.  Our initial post is an expansion of our previous discussions regarding how little stimulus funding for transportation has actually been spent.

We have a very high regard for WBJ and follow numerous WBJ reporters on twitter and publisher Alex Orfinger.  We regard being invited to serve in this capacity by the go-to information source as quite an honor.  For those not familiar or not as focused on the WBJ's offerings, we strongly recommend not only their print subscription, but signing up for their daily e-mail news alerts which contain critical updates for the business community.  We will keep everyone posted on further developments on this front here and invite you to check out the Biz Beat blog!

as slow as molassesA recent blog post at ENR reviewed recent reports on the spending of transportation related stimulus funding.  The post analyzed a report by the House Transporation and Infrastructure Committee detailing where all the states stand on stimulus spending.  Readers may recall that back in March we discussed Virginia's lagging in spending its stimulus dollars.

Simply stated, the lagging definitely continues. While I generally avoid editorializing and engaging in much opining here as opposed to reporting and analyzing, this topic truly deserves a rant.

I know most people out there who follow land use in the DC metro area are pretty familiar with the Columbia Pike Revitalization Plan and the Columbia Pike Form Based Code.  Then, like many others, you've probably wondered what will happen to the trolley system once Columbia Pike hits the Arlington County line?  Well, instead of continuing to head west down the corridor, it abruptly bangs a left at the county line, and heads south up the hill to Skyline (here is a transit plan showing approximate station locations and here is an aerial transit plan overlay).

Dulles Rail Aerial ViewThis week we have announcement of two significant bond offerings to cover transportation funding.  According to ENR, Governor Bob McDonnell announced last Friday that Virginia will sell $500 million in bonds for transportation projects in the Commonwealth.  This will be the first in a wave of bond offerings contemplated by Virginia which will total $2.2 billion over the next six years.  Count me as an observer that says the state bonds are nice, but Virginia will not solve its transportation problems absent a steady, consistent and meaningful source of transportation funding at the General Assembly.

Dripping FaucetThe Commonwealth of Virginia has been slow to apply for, award and perform contracts funded by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, better known as the Stimulus bill).  As the construction industry has suffered through plummeting bidding numbers and 25% national unemployment, Virginia has lagged in even qualifying its projects for funding, let alone getting the money to work.  The bad news is this has slowed down much needed funding.  The good news is it looks like there is a lot more money coming down the pike into the economy in Virginia.

A recent report by Peter Bacque of the Richmond Times Dispatch indicated that federal legislation provided $694.5 million in federal transportation stimulus funding and that less than half that has even been awarded in contracts.  Mr. Bacque indicates the money spent to date has produced 454.4 full time jobs.  This contrasts with the reported job creation in Virginia for US Department of Transportation which sets jobs created or saved at 1,335.54.  Thus, the confusion over job creation and funding that we have previously discussed continues.  Based on the funding numbers, the USDOT funding is clearly not the only agency source of transportation funding for Virginia as there is a minimum of another $100 million in funding.

DC Metro SmithsonianThe Washington Post reported on Sunday that the Obama administration will propose taking over safety regulation of subways and light rail, including the regional Metro system.  Metro has been taking a regular beating in the press recently for safety concerns and its anemic response to those concerns.  Metro has apparently gone so far to frustrate efforts to investigate its safety procedures and efforts that it has barred independent monitors from walking along its subway tracks, even escorted by Metro employees, to observe its procedures in practice

For those of you that don’t already know, Arlington County has filed a complaint against the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Highway Administrator, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Secretary of the Virginia Department of Transportation. Apparently, the purpose of this complaint is to stall and possibly derail the HOV/HOT highway project in Northern Virginia which would add additional travel lanes along the I-95/I-395 corridor from Spotsylvania to the Pentagon. For decades, Arlington County has been tirelessly waging a war against suburban sprawl and the impacts of funneling more and more automobile traffic from outlying suburban counties through Arlington County.

September 1, 2009
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A Fairfax County judge has ruled that a commercial real estate tax used to help fund the rail extension to Dulles Airport is constitutional. According to the Washington Business Journal, Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Stanley Klein approved of the structure in the context of a bond validation suit initiated by Fairfax County and related entities. Fairfax created the Dulles Corridor Phase I Special Improvement Tax District as a funding mechanism to repay bonds issued to fund Fairfax County's contribution to the rail extension project.

Virginia has seen significant challenges to its attempts to create stable funding mechanisms for transportation over the last several years. The most notable challenge was a successful appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia to significant portions of the overall transportation funding legislation adopted by Virginia's General Assembly in 2007. In the case of Marshall v. Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, the Supreme Court of Virginia held that the General Assembly violated Virginia's Constitution by attempting to delegate its taxation powers to unelected multi-district transportation authorities in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.