By Carten Cordell | Virginia Statehouse News
ALEXANDRIA — A dramatic showdown over extension of the Silver Line Metro
nearly derailed the entire Virginia budget
this week. Now, with state lawmakers finally on board, the project hit another wall, as Loudoun County supervisors express uncertainty about their share in the $2.7 billion deal.
would extend the metro system from Falls Church
through Washington Dulles International Airport
and beyond into Loudoun. Officials say Phase 1, already funded, will open in August 2013.
But Phase 2 can’t get out of the station. Construction on the 11.4 mile-stretch, scheduled to begin early next year with a completion date in 2018, may be postponed.
Funding for the project
is split between the U.S. Department of Transportation
of Virginia, Fairfax
and Loudoun counties, as well as toll revenue from the Dulles Toll Road
Fairfax County confirmed funding for 16.1 percent of Phase 2 on April 10. Loudoun County was projected to commit 4.8 percent of construction costs, but has requested until July 4 to decide if it will remain in the project.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
, or MWAA, is overseeing construction on Phase 2 and awaiting Loudoun’s decision before receiving contract bids. Should the county drop out, Phase 2 could go back to Square 1 in terms of planning and funding agreements.
Tara Hamilton, public affairs manager for MWAA, said the agency will await Loudoun’s decision before moving ahead.
“Once that happens, then we will know how to go forward. We won’t be in a position to take the next steps until we hear from Loudoun,” said Hamilton.
, chairwoman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
, said she hopes Loudoun will remain on board, but will look at planning and funding contingencies should it opt out.
Loudon has "been part of the rail to Dulles project from the beginning, so it would be unfortunate if (it) chose to not complete the project,” said Bulova.
She said Loudoun’s exit would shave two metro stations off the project, altering cost projections, construction plans and funding levels.
“So (the cost) might be less for Fairfax County, it might be a wash, it might be a little bit more. We are not exactly sure, but the bottom line is that we would have to go back to the drawing board as far as our funding arrangement,” said Bulova.
The $150-million committed in the 2013-14 state biennial budget will go to cut the toll costs on the Dulles Toll Road, which is projected to account for $1.8 billion of the Phase 2 funding.
Jeff McKay, chairman of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors’ Transportation Committee, said since November’s elections resulted in seven new members on the Loudoun Board of Supervisors, the extra time to weigh its participation wasn’t unusual.
“They have a lot of new board members that really need to get up to speed on the particulars of a pretty complicated project,” he said. “We allowed them an extra 30 days (to evaluate the project), but at this point it hasn’t really delayed the project.
“If they choose to opt out, then there will be delays in the project. Fairfax County fully intends to move ahead with our portion, whether Loudoun is in or out.”
Loudoun County officials could not be reached for comment at the time of this post.