Your View: Potomac Yard Metro project should wait for new WMATA compact


By Jim Larocco, Alexandria

To the editor:

Anthony Williams, former D.C. mayor and CEO of the Federal City Council, recently commented that it’s time to “blow up” the Metro. His sharp words were not about abolishing it; rather they referred to starting from scratch with a new Metro compact that will bring together the D.C. region as well as the federal government to support a long-term, viable system.

Robert Flanagan, chairman of the nonprofit, clearly stated why: Stakeholders, including and especially those in Virginia, have refused to levy new taxes to keep the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority solvent and are unwilling to invest any new funds into the system due to runaway operating and capital costs, weak controls on spending and alarming safety records.

So why is Alexandria’s city council hell bent on buying into a system that needs to be blown up, needing a complete rewrite of its founding covenant? This defies any rational explanation that I can think of.

As a long-time Metro rider, who year after year depended on the Metro to get me anywhere I couldn’t get walking or biking, the failure of the system to provide reliable transportation in the region led me to resume driving. I detest driving, a main factor in my decision to live in Old Town. And with so many others abandoning the Metro system, the traffic has only gotten worse and worse.

We desperately need a Metro system, but it must be one that is financially solvent, safe and reliable. Our current system fails on all three counts.

City council can, should and must hit the pause button on the construction of the Potomac Yard Metro station. There is every reason to wait until a new compact is reached, a new system is devised for sharing the costs and a new plan is set in motion to make the system safe and reliable.

I hope others will join me in stopping the city council train from rushing forward. The Port City enjoys an enviable financial rating, but that will be in jeopardy if we spend so much of our treasure on a failed system.