Post #491: NVTA granted us money for the Church Street garage?

Posted on December 10, 2019

If you read this website, you know that I’m certain that the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) has absolutely no business paying for shopper/diner parking in Vienna.  Their job is to fund projects that reduce traffic congestion, not to pay for merchants’ parking.  To put it as plainly as possible, I think we’re getting their money under circumstances that are just shy of outright fraud.  See (e.g.) Post #447, Post #446.  And yet, NVTA was willing to fund half of the now-defunct Mill Street garage project.

But as part of the planning for the 2020 bond issue, Vienna assumes that NVTA will pay for 59% of a proposed Church Street garage, and 100% of a proposed Patrick Henry garage.

In fact, at this last Town Council meeting, the Director of Finance said unambiguously that Vienna had won a grant from NVTA to finance the Church Street garage.

To which I had to say, uh, what?  When did that happen?  Near as I can tell, there isn’t even a plan yet, for that Church Street building, let alone an agreement-in-principle for the Town to buy into it. How the heck did we get them to fund that when the building is still in the vague-concept stage.

And then, uh, what, again, for the 59% cost share (calculated).  That’s an odd number, where did that come from?

And then I put it all together.   And when I put it all together, it just highlighted how sloppy NVTA is with its awards.  Which I think is consistent with how we got the money in the first place.

NVTA was willing to pay for half of the now-defunct Mill Street garage, a sum of $2.3M.  That was in return for reserving half the parking places for (imaginary) public-transit commuters.  And now, apparently, they’re just going to let the Town of Vienna apply that $2.3M to the proposed Church Street garage.

Let me emphasize:  Different building, different fraction of cost covered, different number of parking places.  Different location, completely different access to the street, looks like far more difficult entry and exit, no longer adjacent to the W&OD (yeah, we even argued that people would drive to Mill Street, park there, and then bike to work), different distance to bus stops, different distance to Metro.

But the same $2.3M award. Which makes absolutely no sense.  But having NVTA pay for shopper/diner parking in Vienna makes no sense in the first place.