The Texas-based engineering firm Fluor and Australian toll road developer Transurban collectively donated $20,000 to Virginia’s GOP in May, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Neither company donated to Democrats in the most recent reporting period, according to VPAP records.
The money comes as Governor Robert McDonnell and state transportation officials are pushing to resurrect a plan to replace HOV lanes with High Occupancy Toll lanes on both highways. The lanes on I-95 would then be extended from Dumfries to Spotsylvania County to make a 56-mile toll road, which would compliment HOT lanes now being built on the Capital Beltway, between Springfield and Dulles Toll Road, by the same two companies.
Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton did not immediately return a request for comment on Monday.
Fluor was also a major contributor to Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s 2009 campaign. The company’s $25,000 in donations made Fluor one of McDonnell’s largest contributors, according to VPAP records.
VPAP also shows Fluor donated $15,000 to McDonnell’s inaugural committee in January, making for a total of $307, 235 in donations to Virginia Republicans since the introduction of the I-95/395 HOT lanes project in 2002. During the same period, Fluor donated $146,200 to state Democrats.
The I-95/395 HOT lanes project stalled last August when the companies said they didn’t have enough private investors to back the project and after Arlington County filed a lawsuit against the state and federal government over the project. It claimed the necessary environmental impact studies that needed to be completed before the lanes could be built were never done. Officials also said the lanes would have an adverse affect on Arlington residents who live along the I-395 corridor.
The suit could now end up in federal court.
If the I-95/395 HOT lanes are finally approved, it’s not clear how much drivers would have to pay to use the lanes or how long the two companies would lease the lanes from the state.
When the Beltway HOT lanes open in late 2012, Fluor-Transubran will lease the lanes for 75 years.
Update at 2:40 p.m. — A spokesperson for the county confirms that several vendors were shut down by Arlington health officials over the weekend. As a result of the closures coming to light, the county is “conducting a thorough review of both the action and the codes/policies that apply to farmers market food safety,” says Kurt Larrick of the Arlington County Department of Human Services.
An Arlington County health inspector busted a baker and a well-known local restaurant at the Arlington Farmers Market in Courthouse Saturday morning.
The Washington City Paper reports that the stand run by Maryland-based Atwater’s was shut down because its bread loaves were not individually-packaged.
Other stands were shut down as well, including a stand featuring free samples from Ballston’s Willow Restaurant.
Willow’s stand was shuttered by county officials because the restaurant did not pay the $150 in special event permit fees required to operate the stand, according to a person connected to the restaurant. Willow runs the stand as a public service and as a promotional vehicle — they don’t actually sell anything — and can’t afford to pay the fees week after week, our source says.
The man rolled face down into the creek after officers arrived around 8:00 a.m. As onlookers gathered on the bike path above, officers pulled the man from the water and began performing CPR.
The man was alive when he was taken to the hospital, although his condition is unknown at this time.
Police say they believe he was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
Photo courtesy of Richard Burgess.
“I think [voters] like the fact that I’m not a politician,” Murray said on Friday, during an interview on board his newly-rented campaign bus. “People talk to me and they say, ‘you don’t talk like a politician,’ and I take that as a compliment because I’m not.”
Murray says his ‘Time to Lead’ bus tour, on which he embarked Thursday and will continue through Tuesday’s GOP primary, is part of an “insurgent ground campaign.” He’s visiting Metro stops, grocery stores, farmer’s markets and other high-traffic spots in an effort to get out the vote.
“We are cautiously optimistic but we’re running like we’re 50 points behind. We’re getting up before dawn and going to bed after dark. Our goal is to get to all 151 precincts in the eighth district.”
Murray may not be 50 points behind, but his fundraising has consistently lagged opponent Matthew Berry, a former general counsel at the Federal Communications Commission.
Later, Murray took another shot at Berry’s inside-the-Beltway career.
“I have a lot of experience in what I like to call the real world,” he said. “My opponent has none, he’s a federal government lawyer. There’s nothing wrong with federal government lawyers but that’s his sole perspective.”
“This is a year where we need some maturity, some leadership, and somebody in there who can stand up to both sides and get some things done,” Murray said.
Murray insists that he would have the best shot of defeating incumbent Rep. Jim Moran in the fall — a feat that no Republican has managed since Moran first won the eighth district congressional seat in 1991.
“I feel very strongly with my head and my heart that I’m the best candidate,” Murray said.
Two people were taken into custody early Monday morning during an apparent break-in at Gunston Middle School.
A police officer arrested the pair at gunpoint after responding to the school on a routine call for a tripped motion detector. The officer first spotted a broken window then encountered the suspects inside.
Initial reports suggest the suspects may have been attempting to steal laptops from the school’s library.
It’s Pride Week In Arlington — June 7-13 is Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Week in Arlington. County Board Chairman Jay Fisette, Virginia’s first openly gay elected official, signed the proclamation on Wednesday. Arlington’s pride week is timed to coincide with the larger Capital Pride Week. An Arlington “Pride Social” will be held at Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant (555 South 23rd Street) from 6:00 to 9:00 Friday night.
AGLA Board: “Decline to Sign” — The Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance is urging supporters to “decline to sign” the hotly-debated change-of-government petition. The AGLA and other petition critics say a change in the county’s form of government would, as a result of the Dillon Rule, eliminate Arlington’s ability to stop discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Chick-Fil-A Debuts Spicy Chicken Sandwich – Today the Chick-fil-A at Ballston Common Mall is debuting the chain’s new spicy chicken sandwich. A store rep says more than 900 mall-goers attended “VIP Premiere Tastings” for the new sandwich last week. On a related note, there’s still word on when the new Crystal City Chick-fil-A will be opening.
Carpoolers Peeved by HOT Lanes — Some Prince William County carpoolers are objecting to the idea of motorists being able to pay for access to the high-occupancy lanes along I-395, saying it would slow down their commute, according to Uriah Kiser of InsideNoVA. Arlington County has filed suit against the I-395 HOT lanes plan, which would convert the existing two HOV lanes into three High Occupancy Toll lanes.