Tuesday, December 04, 2012


You know the case for a new DC Outer Beltway and Potomac River crossing is strong when even a study by an anti-automobile group shows both are necessary.

I often disagree with the royal pronouncements by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), an unelected body that believes it has the power to tell you to "shelter in place" during bad weather or a terror attack.  And its general policies that promote a developer-friendly agenda, at the cost of quality-of-life for the folks who actually fund government.  A.k.a., the taxpayer.

But MWCOG has released a new survey report that argues that the region's economic growth will depend upon "improving ground access to BWI and Dulles" airports.  So Ron "Tax Cars Out of Existence" Kirby of MWCOG told The Examiner.

Since the Silver Line to Dulles is already under construction, the only other way to improve access to the region's most popular international airport is by building the Outer Beltway from Montgomery County across the Potomac, into Northern Virginia.

Direct highway access from Maryland into Loudoun County has always been planned as an extension of I-370 (Sam Eig Highway) across the Potomac. This connection would conversely provide Virginia with more access to BWI Airport.

But easy access from Montgomery County to Dulles is the most essential action required to restart our county's economy and job prospects.  Especially relative to Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

Why, you may ask, do companies who consider - and then pass on - moving to Bethesda or Rockville want Dulles access?

There are several reasons they prefer Dulles to BWI. 

Here's a simple experiment that illustrates just one of them.

This morning, I did a search on Expedia, for a non-stop, Thursday flight to two common destinations for today's international businessman or woman: Dubai, and Doha.

One passenger. Any type of seat. Go!

For Dubai:

BWI: Zero, zilch, nada.

Dulles: Immediately gave me a non-stop flight.

For Doha:

BWI: No dice again!

Dulles: Instant result for the flight I wanted again.

If your airport isn't offering direct flights to Dubai and Doha in today's business world, you're not competitive. And that means Maryland and Montgomery County aren't competitive, either.

Such access to Dulles can "influence the location of business, and even their decision to come to the region, says Kirby, MWCOG's Director of Transportation Planning.  Maybe he's coming around after all!

The importance of easy international connections to attracting large employers was the topic of a USA Today article the same day.

"Access to foreign cities can be critical to a city's economic future. Denver watched a [local] corporation [move] to San Francisco because Denver did not have a non-stop flight to Asia at the time. 'We lost a global headquarters,' says Denver Mayor Michael Hancock."

How valuable is such access to a local economy? The addition of one non-stop Denver-Tokyo flight is expected to generate $130 million in local economic activity - annually.

As Hancock told USA Today, "Our goal is to attract new companies that will relocate to Denver."

With the Montgomery County Council steadfastly opposing any new master plan highway construction, or Potomac River bridge, one has to ask, what's their goal?

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