Saturday, January 10, 2009

DOT Chief Blesses DC Metrorail Dulles Extension

A 23-mile extension of WMATA Metrorail's Orange Line from Falls Church, VA, to Dulles Airport, has received final approval from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, The Washington Post reports. This means the project has cleared all regulatory hurdles and construction may proceed. The project website notes that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), which will build the line, previously announced construction has been approved to start on March 2 .

The Dulles Corridor runs through several of metropolitan Washington's fastest-growing activity centers, including Tysons Corner, the Reston-Herndon area, the Airport and emerging activity centers in eastern Loudoun County.

The project will be built in two phases. The first phase will extend Metro from the Orange Line between East and West Falls Church stations to Wiehle Avenue and includes four stations in Tysons Corner. The expected completion date for Phase 1 is July 31, 2013. Its cost is estimated at $2.6 billion, with $900 million coming from the federal government and the rest paid for through tolls on the Dulles Toll Road.

Phase 2 would extend Metro through Reston and Herndon to Dulles Airport and Route 772 in Loudoun County. A funding plan has not been established yet.

Most of the extension will run the median of the Dulles International Airport Access Highway and Dulles Connector Road. The line will include 11 new Metrorail stations, a new rail yard on Dulles Airport property and improvements to an existing rail yard at the West Falls Church Station.

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