Fairfax County stays in Dulles Rail project

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

FAIRFAX – Despite a key vote in support of the Dulles Rail extension, the question of how much commuters will pay for tolls and whether anyone will ever be able to ride a train to Dulles International Airport remains up in the air.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has reaffirmed the county’s participation in the second phase of the expansion, possibly up to $498 million. But disputes in both the Virginia General Assembly and Loudoun County remain roadblocks.

The state budget, which could be voted on next week, contains $150 million for Metro, but not the $300 million in additional funds Democrats proposed. Loudoun County supervisors remain uncommitted to both the price tag and a provision that includes incentives to contractors who use union labor for construction.

Funds from Fairfax County will be used to build the Route 28 Metro Station and parking at two of the facilities on the Silver Line.

How much the governments contribute to the $2.7 billion second phase of the Silver Line has a direct impact on what commuters would pay on the Dulles Toll Road.

Tolls are already expected to double to $4.50 one way next year, but could go up even more depending on the financing agreement.

Some think toll mitigation should come from the state government.

“The state ought to put in money to buy down the tolls,” says Supervisor Jeff McKay. “They do it for every other project. They did it for the HOT project on the Beltway.”

The first phase of the rail expansion to Whiele Avenue is expected to be completed in 2013.

The second phase is supposed to take the rail line to Dulles airport and beyond into Loudoun County.

Supervisors say toll mitigation must come from other sources and they are asking their legislative delegation to push harder to restore the proposed $300 million for that in the state budget.

The General Assembly is in a special session, with budget questions the only outstanding item. Gov. Bob McDonnell has indicated he will not support additional money for the Metro expansion.

Supervisor Chairman Sharon Bulova calls that shortsighted.

“Development opportunities that will result from this project are enourmous, and one of the biggest beneficiaries will be the state,” she says.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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