LaHood seals the deal for new D.C. Metro line

The Transportation Secretary and officials came to an agreement on how to fund the second phase of a rail project that will extend the WMATA and provide service to and from Dulles Airport

Transportation Management News Associated Press November 17, 2011
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Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and other officials have come to an agreement on how to fund the final, $2.9 billion phase of a Washington, D.C., Metro (WMATA) project that will extend farther into Virginia, including to Dulles Airport, the Associated Press reported.


The deal between LaHood and state and local officials was announced last Friday and included a $150 million commitment in state funds from Virginia and federal loan assistance through the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT).


 “This is a huge win for the Washington metropolitan region,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “This project will create thousands of good paying jobs, bolster the economy, and relieve traffic congestion in northern Virginia.”


Construction has already begun on the first phase of what will be known as the Silver Line, with Phase One extending Metro further into Virginia from Falls Church through Tysons Corner to Reston. But after the first phase, there was still no concrete agreement on who would pay for the final stretch.


Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York said the agreement, hammered out Thursday, was made possible by the commitments of state and federal funding to supplement the pledges that had already been made by Fairfax and Loudoun counties and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is managing the project.

The federal component comes from the availability of low-interest loan financing. Without that, the interest rates on the latter years of the project financing would have approached junk-bond status, York said.


Another way the project will be paid for is by increasing tolls on the Dulles Toll Road. The exact amounts of the increases are not known, although the tolls definitely are set to go up.


York said projected increases will be calculated next month, but the deal puts measures in place to help keep those rates in check. The measures include cutting nearly $1 billion from the project by agreeing to build the station at Dulles Airport above ground rather than below, shrinking the size of some rail yards and pursuing public-private partnerships to build parking garages at the Metro stations.


York said the total estimated cost of Phase Two now stands at about $2.9 billion.


The deal still must be approved by state and county governments.


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