Americans for Prosperity vs. Metrorail

A Metrorail train arriving at the Naylor Road Station platform.WMATA Photograph by Larry Levine.

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What is it with conservatives and trains? They hate Amtrak; they hate light rail; and now, apparently, they are even opposed to subways that are one of the few solutions to permanent traffic gridlock in the nation’s most populated cities. The latest: Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group that is partly funded by Koch brothers, is currently funding a campaign in Virginia to try to kill off an expansion of the Washington Metrorail system from Reston, Virginia, to the Dulles Airport and into Loudoun County, areas around DC that are choked with traffic.

AFP is sponsoring robo-calls to area residents urging them to contact their local officials and lobby them to fight off the subway project, which they oppose because of potential tax increases associated with the project. According to the Washington Post, the recorded calls tell voters:

Loudoun cannot afford this bail-out to rail-station developers. If the Loudoun County board opts out, the rail will still be built to Dulles Airport, and commuters will still be within five miles of Metro. Come tell the board of supervisors to opt out and save taxpayers billions of dollars.

If the Metrorail expansion doesn’t take place, the wealthy Virginia county will be doomed to a long future of horrible traffic conditions, which are already bad—so bad that it helps keep the Washington metro area at the top of the charts in studies of the nation’s worst commutes and creates miserable air quality. Studies show that Loudoun County would also miss out on a tremendous amount of economic development expected to accompany the new rail stations (lots of people have already paid a premium to buy houses within walking distance of the new stations). The county could reap nearly $400 million in new tax revenue from the project, too. It’s basically a no-brainer. But conservative activists seem dead-set on ensuring that the county’s traffic remains as gridlocked as Washington politics.

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