LaHood Huddles With Silver Line Stakeholders; Progress But No Deal

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LaHood

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tried to broker an agreement among primary stakeholders in the Dulles Metrorail extension Wednesday, but no one is claiming victory just yet.

A spokesman said the meeting produced “progress but no final deal.”

Phase two of the Silver Line extension would run from Reston to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County but the undertaking — the largest mass transit project in the country at the moment —  is plagued by funding questions and lukewarm support from some quarters.

Although most of the funding for the $2.7 billion project is coming from bonds issued by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), backers are also counting on funds from Fairfax and Loudoun Counties as well as Virginia.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration and Republican legislators have backed away from earlier commitments to provide an additional $300 million to help hold down tolls for commuters on the Dulles Toll Road, and the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has asked for more time to consider whether to go through with paying their share, about $260 million

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors last month reaffirmed its commitment, agreeing to contribute up to $498 million.

LaHood called yesterday’s meeting  because he knows that the Silver Line is critical to the economic future of the region, and he wants to get all of the stakeholders in the same room so that we can make sure the project continues to move forward,” a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Transportation said.

Terry Maynard of the Reston Citizens Association said the situation is “deteriorating rapidly.” Though the RCA expresses support for the overall concept of a rail extension to the airport, it has consistently criticized the current Dulles Rail funding structure.

Citizen and taxpayer groups have expressed concern over projected tolls of $6 or more on the Dulles Toll Road once the project is finished.

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