McAuliffe, Regional Leaders Disagree on Bridges, Metro

McAuliffe, Regional Leaders Disagree on Bridges, Metro

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan are still far apart in ideas for bridges across the Potomac.

At the Capital Region Business Forum on Oct. 12, McAuliffe said there is no more expansion Northern Virginia can do. Since Maryland owns the Potomac, that a bridge crossing was their responsibility.

“If I was governor of Maryland I’d build that bridge tomorrow,” McAuliffe said.

Hogan said that Maryland was investing in the Nice Bridge in the southern part of the state, and didn’t have a funding mechanism for a new bridge across the northern part of the river. He said he would support Virginia’s initiative to build one, something McAuliffe was reluctant to engage.

The forum in Washington D.C. brought together McAuliffe, Hogan and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for their first joint public appearance. Bowser didn’t comment on a proposed new bridge, but said funding was needed for the Arlington Memorial Bridge that crosses Virginia into the District, as it was “about to fall into the Potomac.”

In a wide-ranging forum, the trio also discussed Metro. Bowser said she supported a potential half-cent sales tax increase to fund Metro. Neither governor would commit to any increased funding, both reiterating the need for a greater commitment to safety before allocating any more money to the transit system.

McAuliffe did laud the work of new Metro CEO Paul Wiedefeld and stressed Metro’s importance to the state. He said about 300,000 Virginian’s use the system every day.

McAuliffe also used the event to again warn of the dangers of sequestration. He said the automatic spending cuts from a potential sequestration in 2017 would be five times more devastating to Virginia than previous sequestration in 2011 through 2013.

“It’s a gigantic hurricane coming at us,” McAuliffe said.

He retired that point when asked by forum moderator and George Washington University president Steven Knapp what advice he would give to the next president. McAuliffe, a, long-time advisor to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, she would need to work with congress to get a budget done within her first 100 days in office to avoid sequestration cuts.

“I would say to Hillary… the sequestration trigger will have the most devastating impact in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.” McAuliffe said.