WASHINGTON – Loudoun County leaders say they need more time to decide whether they are in or out on the Dulles Rail Project.
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board members said Wednesday that the county has requested an additional 30 days to review the scope of the project to make a decision.
“I think they’re just looking at the whole project. There are a lot of costs and you have a lot of new board members (in Loudoun),” said Tom Davis, who heads the MWAA’s Dulles Corridor Committee. “I think they have to get comfortable with what’s happening.”
The total cost for the second phase, which will operate from Reston to Dulles International Airport and continue with two stops in Loudoun, is estimated to be around $2.8 billion. Loudoun County would be on the hook for about $260 million of that total.
“The request was made because (we have) seven new board members and the fact that we received the 100 percent Preliminary Engineering (for Phase II) when we were starting our month long budget process,” writes Scott York, chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in an email.
MWAA leaders approved the request for additional time, meaning both Loudoun and Fairfax now have until July to decide whether or not to move forward with the second phase.
Davis says some parts of the process to get the project going will have to be pushed back, but he doesn’t expect a delay in construction and completion dates.
“You have too many variables to put this thing out and have to pull it back,” he says. “We are going to wait until the (review) process is completed.”
If Loudoun County pulls out of the project, it would essentially kill two planned Metro stations at routes 606 and 772 near the Dulles Greenway.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova has promised the project will move forward.
If all parties agree to proceed, MWAA says the contract could be awarded in January 2013, and the next phase could be built and open to riders in 2018.
All parties involved are trying to keep the overall cost of the second phase down because higher costs could lead to much higher tolls on the Dulles Toll Road, which will account for 75 percent of the financing.