Fairfax County approves additional funding to complete Silver Line extension

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently approved an additional $40.25 million to complete Phase 2 of the Silver Line, which will open next week, adding six new stations in Fairfax and Loudoun counties and extending the line to Washington Dulles International Airport.

In a news release, Chairman Jeffrey McKay said the money gives the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority the last-minute funding it needs to put the finishing touches on the Silver Line.

“This is the final payment to the $3B phase two project,” McKay said.

In 2007, Fairfax County, Loudoun County and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority entered into an agreement to fund the construction of the Silver Line extension, according to documents.

The initial price tag was $2.778 billion, but in July the Airports Authority said an additional $250 million was required to complete the extension. The authority cited inflation, supply chain challenges, updated regulations on stormwater and changes in project scope as a few reasons. The increase brought the total cost of the project to $3.028 billion.

Fairfax County is responsible for 16.1 percent of the funding, while Loudoun County and the Airports Authority are responsible for 4.8 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively. The other 75 percent comes from Dulles Toll Road revenues.

During a board meeting this week, Supervisor Pat Herrity supported the funding, but said, “The real burden is going to be on toll road users.”

“They pay $188 million, not $40 million,” Herrity said. He also addressed toll evaders as a critical issue for Metro.

“It’s kind of ironic that in 2022, it was $40 million that they estimated didn’t get paid by fare evaders, and I think that’s the kind of thing we don’t want to be encouraging,” Herrity said.

McKay pointed out that fare evasion was “totally unrelated” to the approval of the funds.

“It is the deal that was struck. We don’t have an option on this,” he said.

McKay also said the line was essential for the long-term economic success of Fairfax County.

“And while this is a small increase in the overall cost, we will get this back plus major other dividends,” he said.

Acacia James covers Fairfax County with a focus on affordable housing, access to transportation and other issues affecting underserved communities. 

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