In October, U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock (VA-10) briefed the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Board of Directors on her vision for the region, including several efforts related to transportation that closely align with local and regional priorities.
Comstock, who serves on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, told area leaders that she was optimistic that Congress would advance a new six year federal transportation funding bill. She said that such a long-term bill is critical to regional planning efforts, and that it would give more authority to local leaders allowing them to better stretch federal transportation dollars. COG’s 2015 Legislative Priorities supports federal funding for a full six year transportation bill with additional funding to address the under-investment in the region’s transportation system.
The Congresswoman spoke about the urgent need to make improvements to Metro and noted that the region’s Congressional delegation has been working closely with area leaders and transit officials to enhance the safety and reliability of the system. She said she has strongly urged her Congressional counterparts from outside the region to continue supporting the federal commitment of $150 million a year to Metro, which is matched by the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.
Regarding the region’s airports, Comstock said the success of Dulles International Airport should be a top priority and stated her opposition to additional slots and perimeter rule changes at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. This spring, the COG Board approved a resolution opposing these changes to Reagan National in order to maintain a balance among the local airports. Comstock also said she would like to see more collaboration on development around the airports since they are major hubs of the region’s economy.
On economic issues in general, Comstock said she favored greater partnership to enhance the region’s competitiveness. She said that the new economic reality is less about competing against each other as states because the real competition is international.
Comstock said the region must continue to make the most of its competitive advantages as home to both the federal government and several expanding industries like information technology and cybersecurity. She also reiterated the importance of a safe, reliable, and expansive transportation system to support future economic growth and position metropolitan Washington to better compete with other regions.