Beltway Poll: Widespread support for Dulles rail extension

Construction of the subway line to Dulles continues close to Metro\'s Orange Line, near Interstate 66. (Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project/Chuck Samuelson)

Hank Silverberg,

WASHINGTON – The construction of a new $6 billion, 23-mile rail line to Dulles Airport appears to have wide support in the region even as controversy continues to escalate over its financing.

WTOP’s latest Beltway Poll shows 83 percent of Northern Virginians favor the completion of the Silver Line into Loudoun County as do 79 percent of those polled over the entire region.

The poll, conducted by Heart and Mind Strategies on May 18th, comes as Loudoun County considers withdrawing from the project over its price tag.

“Getting that Silver Line extended to Dulles is necessary [and] the right thing to do,” says Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. The governor continues to push for changes in management at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority which is overseeing construction of the line.

McDonnell wants to remove the mandatory project labor agreement, which provides incentives for use of union labor.

The first phase of the extension to Whiehle Avenue in Fairfax County is already underway and is scheduled for completion in late 2013. But the second phase has run into delays over the financing plan.

“There’s obviously been some concern that we’ve raised with MWAA’s management with regard to future tolls for our Virginia taxpayers,” McDonnell said when he appeared on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program.

Tolls on the Dulles Toll road, which is also controlled by MWAA, will be a main part of the funding formula that includes money from Maryland, D.C., Virginia, the federal government and Fairfax County.

McDonnell and others want two of MWAA’s new Virginia members seated under a law passed last year, but the board has refused to seat the new members.

Loudoun County, which would have to pay for two rail stations, has been debating whether to stay in the project because of costs. A decision is expected before July 4th.

Follow Hank and WTOP on Twitter. (Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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