In Case You Missed It: Former Chair Of Northern Virginia Chamber Of Commerce & Transportation Leader Explains How The Perimeter Rule Is Hurting Northern Virginia

“Imagine our region today if Congress had put similar 1966 constraints on the rest of our transportation network. There would be no Metro, Amtrak or Virginia Railway Express [VRE]. Interstate 95 would still be a four-lane road.” – Jennifer Aument, Global Transportation Leader

In case you missed it, a new op-ed in the Washington Business Journal by Jennifer Aument, former chairwoman of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce (NVCC), former president and CEO for North America for Transurban and global transportation chief executive at AECOM, outlines how the outdated 1966 federally imposed perimeter rule is harming the region’s transportation network and overall economic growth.

A global transportation leader, Aument helped oversee several major infrastructure projects in Northern Virginia, including Interstate 95 and the Beltway and the development of the Washington Metrorail Silver Line to Dulles Airport. In the op-ed, Aument refutes opposition to modernizing the antiquated perimeter rule, including pointing out DCA’s ability for added capacity and the high costs that a lack of competition is having on consumers.

Read the entire piece in the Washington Business Journal HERE and below:

Why Congress Must End DCA’s Perimeter Rule

Washington Business Journal
Jennifer Aument
June 2, 2023

Over the past two decades, the Washington region has invested billions of dollars to improve our regional transportation system, from expanding Metrorail to Dulles Airport to adding capacity to Interstate 95 and the Beltway.

As a transportation executive and local business leader who has been involved in many of these projects, I have seen firsthand how modernizing our transportation network has transformed how we move people and goods, improved quality of life and fueled the region’s economy.   

Despite the improvements we have made, a new study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) reveals that a critical part of our regional transportation network remains stuck in the past, and risks stifling the competitiveness of our region. 

In 1966, Congress passed a law known as the Perimeter Rule that established an arbitrary limit on the number of direct flights of more than 1,250 miles in and out of Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA). The rule was intended to preserve access to D.C. from close-by cities and support growth at the then-new and unproven Dulles International Airport.  

In the more than half a century since the rule was put into place, our local population has tripled. Domestic air travel has increased tenfold. Cities like Austin and Salt Lake City that sit outside the DCA parameter have transformed from small towns to fast-growing, critical economic centers. All the while, the Perimeter Rule has remained unchanged. 

This constraint on DCA and our air travel system is costing local customers and the economy. BCG’s study reveals that the region has the most expensive domestic ticket prices of any of the top 10 metropolitan areas in the U.S. A lack of direct routes at DCA costs consumers an estimated $60 per ticket, or cumulatively more than $500 million annually in above-average flight prices.

Fortunately, a bipartisan group of lawmakers have proposed the Direct Capital Access Act that would at last update the Perimeter Rule and enable more direct flights in and out of DCA. The new law would provide new travel choices, and more affordable and convenient flight options.

DCA is ready and prepared to provide this service. Officials recently completed a billion-dollar expansion of the airport that includes a new 14-gate concourse and upgraded security checkpoint facilities.

Customers enjoy a host of new restaurants and amenities, and terminal access and safety upgrades worthy of the nation’s capital. The Direct Capital Access Act would ensure the region gets the full return on this substantial investment.  

Local residents like me can take comfort that the Act would provide these new travel options, while also protecting surrounding communities and supporting other regional priorities. The new service would be restricted to a manageable 28 new flights — limiting noise, reducing emissions through more efficient routes and continuing to balance service levels with nearby Dulles International Airport.     

Imagine our region today if Congress had put similar 1966 constraints on the rest of our transportation network. There would be no Metro, Amtrak or Virginia Railway Express. Interstate 95 would still be a four-lane road.  

Our region has thrived because we have continued to deliver new, modern transportation improvements that serve our ambitions as a global center for business, government and education.  

We could not have delivered these improvements without elected officials who were willing to come together across political parties to set bold transportation agendas and lead transformational highway, bridge and rail projects through to completion.    

I urge Congress and our local delegation to throw out the outdated Perimeter Rule and get behind modernizing airflight in the region with the same fervor that you have brought to the rest of the transportation network.   

It’s time to make DCA the airport that we know it can be — a hub that can serve local residents and millions of visitors from around the world and help strengthen economic growth in the region.

Jennifer Aument is the former president and CEO for North America for Transurban and global transportation chief executive at AECOM.

About CAA

CAA consists of diverse members from around the country and various industries, including transportation, general business groups, the small business sector, entrepreneurs and job creators, organizations focused on economic development and leaders in the civic and policy communities. 

Learn more about Capital Access Alliance HERE.