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Del. Ken Plum: Mission Accomplished

by Del. Ken Plum — January 12, 2017 at 10:15 am 14 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

The Dulles Corridor Rail Association (DCRA) Board of Directors voted last week to merge with the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance (NVTA) to represent transportation interests for the region.

As founder of DCRA I felt some sadness at the consolidation of the organization into another entity with a broader purpose, but at the same time I was very pleased with the greater meaning of the merger. On the one hand the merger represented “mission accomplished” for DCRA, and on the other hand it reflected a greater appreciation of the need for a multimodal transportation system for our region.

DCRA was founded in 1998 after conversations I had with members of the Reston Transportation Committee, area residents and members of the business community. My concern that I found was shared by many others was that road building alone would not meet the long-term needs of the region and specifically Reston located in the middle of the corridor.

Short-term solutions like widening roads, adding buses or bus rapid transit or light rail trains could be short-term fixes some of which would interfere with adding more substantial infrastructure in the future. The ensuing years were filled with much debate, fits and starts, and ups and downs before an extension of Metro from West Falls Church into Loudoun County was finally approved as the preferred local alternative, federal funds were approved, special tax districts were set up, and agreements and contracts were signed to make the Silver Line a reality.

For DCRA members the completion of Phase 1 and its operation and the contracting for Phase 2 to be completed by 2020 meant that the work on its narrowly drawn mission had been completed. While issues about maximizing the use of the rail system and access to it remain to be fine-tuned, those matters are best resolved within the framework of a multimodal approach. Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance has moved beyond its road building focus of the past to a more multimodal approach that will support the Silver Line while at the same time reducing congestion and supporting the many different ways that people in our community choose to travel.

DCRA would never have been able to declare victory without the active support of the many individuals, organizations and businesses that supported its mission. They joined together in the “Dulles Rail Now!” campaign at a critically important time, in the beginning sent faxes to key decision makers followed by email in more recent years, held educational seminars for residents and the business community to enhance understanding of transit-oriented development, and cajoled, flattered and persuaded political leaders to support the project.

Key to its successful operation was its president Patty Nicoson who joined the organization at its very beginning and continued with it until its victory celebration. She came to the organization with experience as a planner when Metro first came to the District of Columbia and later worked for Arlington County when Metro arrived there. Her persistent but reasoned approach may have been the most important element of DCRA completing its mission.

Each year I survey constituents on issues of concern to them and on issues that are likely to be considered by the General Assembly. Your views are important to me. Please take a few minutes to respond to the survey that can be found at www.kenplum.com.

  • The Constitutionalist

    Yes, great job, you’ve created another cyst on the back of the taxpayer – classic Ken, am I right? I certainly wonder how much this will cost in 20 years.

    • Richard703

      George Bush declared Mission Accomplished too. We have all seen how that worked out (and the costs.)

      • The Constitutionalist

        Neat. Very insightful, definitely pertains to the conversation and adds to it.

      • The Constitutionalist

        That’s neat.

      • Greg

        Government, especially when it spends (read: wastes) others’ money is never the solution. The “wars” on poverty, drugs and terrorism are all failing; we are graduating ever more illiterate and poorly-equipped students; and we have worse traffic and road conditions in NoVA than ever. http://virginiaroads.org/Mapping/#PavementConditions Zoom in and weep at the sea of red.

        • Guest

          I agree, we’ve done better and can do better. Specific note: since the “war on poverty” was declared by LBJ, the U.S. population living below the poverty line has declined from ~19% to ~14%. But it hasn’t been a straight line. Benefits to the poor grew until the 80s, and have since declined below the initial level in the 60s.

          • Greg

            Oh, but the devil is in the details. Percentage may be this or that, but the number of people living in “poverty” is increasing and higher than ever.

            Also, the population of the US was about 175 million in 1959 compared to 325 million today. So that’s about 33 million in 1959 and about 45 million today or about 40 percent more people living poverty today than in 1959.

            Finally, and most damning, the us has spent at least $50 trillion on these wars. The return on that investment is, well, deplorable.

            “The number of households in poverty has risen steadily and is now higher than in 1959, the year for which the poverty level was first defined by Mollie Orshansky. The poverty rate has remained consistently higher than in the 1970s, except for a very brief deep at the peak of the late-1990s boom.”

    • Greg

      Well, considering how much the current metro is costing to fix after about 20+ years of use, we can only infer that the elevated eyesore that uncle Ken gave us will cost even more. Not to mention the billions in unfunded local access and transport and our crumbling local roads and highways that Ken and company conveniently ignore.

  • Mike M

    How can the Dulles Corridor Rail Association (DCRA) Board of Directors represent the interest of the people when they are, by design, not directly accountable to the people?

    • Chuck Morningwood

      Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

  • 30yearsinreston

    When is he going to retire from the gravy train

    • Greg

      Not soon enough.

      • Sarah palin

        You think that way because you are stupid

  • drb

    Just a small interjection here. The “War On Poverty” is like all the wars we have been in since “W.O.P.” by LBJ. We refuse to win them. Lower education for the poor and hand outs to not work are tools used to wage this war. This insures future poverty from the next generation that politicians can prey on.
    Like the wars with bombs and bullets it takes the will and resolve to win. It looks bad politically while it goes on but works. Politicians don’t want to look bad and if the problems were fixed then politicians would not have the next sound bite to promise to fix the problem they caused.

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