The long-awaited extension of Metro’s Silver Line to Loudoun County, Virginia, opened on Tuesday. How far out does it go? When can you get to Dulles International Airport? And just how long-awaited is this extension? Read on.
- Q: What is the Silver Line extension?
It’s an 11.5-mile, six-station stretch of track added on to the Silver Line (which marks the first time Metro will head into Loudoun County, and it will bring rail riders to Dulles International Airport for the first time.)
- Q: What are the new stations?
As of Monday, the Silver Line ends at Wiehle-Reston East. Starting Tuesday, it extends to Reston Town Center, Herndon, Innovation Center, Washington Dulles International Airport, Loudoun Gateway and Ashburn.
In a burst of optimism, Metro released the new map last month.
- Q: So you can take the Metro to Dulles now?
It’s true! Metro estimates it’ll take about 53 minutes to get there from Metro Center, 62 minutes from Reagan National Airport. There’s an underground walkway between baggage claim and the station, and it’s about a five-minute walk, Metro said.
In fact, you’ll be losing some of the other options for getting to Dulles: The Silver Line Express Bus service, run by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority between Dulles and the Wiehle-Reston East station, is ending Nov. 16, and the Fairfax County Connector routes 980 and 981, which both went to the airport, are shutting down Nov. 16.
That said, Jack Potter, the president of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said the extension is a big deal for the airport, and in turn for travelers: Easy access to downtown will attract new airlines to Dulles, he said. “This has been a vision for Dulles Airport for 70 years,” Potter said.
- Q: So when does the first train leave?
The first eastbound train leaves Ashburn for Largo, Maryland, just before 2 p.m. Tuesday. There are a couple of ceremonial westbound trips, but the first full-on trip to Ashburn shoves off from Largo at 12:51 p.m.
- Q: How much did this all cost?
A cool $3 billion. It’s about $250 million over budget, which Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chair Jeff McKay was not thrilled about when it was announced this summer. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors kicked in $40.25 million this month, after the opening date was announced.
- Q: And how long has this been in the works?
The first projection was that this second phase of the Silver Line would be running in 2018. That’s been adjusted multiple times over the years: Storm water problems, concrete problems, locusts (OK maybe not locusts). They’ve dealt with some stuff is what I’m saying.