Dulles Rail labor standoff may take toll on commuters

WASHINGTON – A battle over who will build the next phase of the Dulles Rail project may have a big impact on some proposed toll increases.

The face-off is between the commonwealth of Virginia and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Virginia leaders have threatened to withhold $150 million in funding unless the authority opens up bidding for the project’s second phase to all contractors.

But the MWAA currently is encouraging the use of union labor for the project, even though Virginia is a right-to-work state. And the commonwealth’s contribution to the project will impact potential toll increases on the Dulles Toll Road.

Seventy-five percent of the financing for Phase 2 is coming from tolls.

“The total amount of funding that we actually receive from the commonwealth will impact it,” says Andrew Rountree, the airports authority’s chief financial officer.

Rountree says there’s still “a lot that has to be figured out” when it comes to the project.

Still, if all parties agree to move forward, MWAA says a contract could be awarded in January of 2013, and Phase 2 could be built and open to riders in 2018.

Phase 2 is estimated to cost roughly $2.8 billion to build. It will run from Reston to Dulles International Airport and continue into Loudoun County.

WTOP’s Adam Tuss contributed to this report. Follow Adam and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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