Amid a pandemic, inflation and harder-than-expected rock, an additional $250 million has been approved to finish extending Metro’s Silver Line to Dulles International Airport.
During a meeting Wednesday morning, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board of Directors formally requested — and received — that additional funding for completing Phase Two.
According to MWAA, the additional funds were needed because of “unforeseen conditions during construction, COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, supply chain challenges and cost escalation as a result of inflation.”
The original Phase Two contract was approved in May 2013 and had been estimated to be complete by 2018. That deadline was extended to January 2019 because of cost overruns and delays.
Then the pandemic happened.
Drew Haskell, the vice president for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, said that much of the delays and expense came from unexpected rock in construction areas that developers didn’t feel safe blasting through.
“There were some places where some contractors, who have a lot of experience in dealing with hard rock, were burning through equipment trying to get through it,” he said.
The approved funds were requested after the project had already used up its $551 million contingency fund, which was supposed to cover cost overruns.
On Tuesday, MWAA officials said their request for additional money came after negotiations with Metro officials and contractors.
The project, which extends the Silver Line by 11.4 miles, was handed over to Metro last month. It will bring six additional stations to the system. Phase One of the Silver Line opened in 2014, with four stations in Tysons and one in Reston.
According to the approved proposal, the cost increase will be absorbed by the project’s funding sources, which include Fairfax and Loudoun counties, the MWAA and Dulles Toll Road users.
On Tuesday, Loudoun County spokesman Glen Barbour said the county has sufficient funds to offset the county’s $12 million share of this cost increase. As for Dulles Toll Road users, the price hike that was already announced for 2023 is projected to cover their share of the added funding.
Though MWAA is overseeing the project, it will become part of the region’s Metro system and will be managed the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority when completed.
WTOP’s Anna-Lysa Gayle contributed to this report.