To the Editor:
How much walking is worth $330 million? On Tuesday of this week, I walked from the North Garage to the terminal at Dulles International Airport, the distance an air traveler would walk if the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority made the sensible decision to build the Metro station at Dulles above ground at that location.
The entire walk is within an underground, climate-controlled walkway. The total distance is about 1,150 feet and took 4-7 minutes depending on if my group walked or stood on the moving sidewalks.
The distance between the proposed underground station (MWAA’s preference) and the aerial station includes 250 feet of unassisted (without moving sidewalks) walking. That’s $1.3 million per foot. It took me 2 minutes and 39 seconds to get from the area proposed for an underground station to the aerial alternative. That’s $2.07 million per second.
Not only is the underground station within an easy walking distance from the aerial station, it’s actually farther away from the destination of most of the future Silver line Dulles rail riders. A majority of Metro riders arriving at the airport station will use it to get to work at nearby businesses that are closer to the North Garage and farther from the terminal.
These are the facts the MWAA board had before it when it chose an underground station against the recommendation of its own staff and its funding partners: Fairfax County, Loudoun County and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Simply put, MWAA chose station that is more expensive, will take six months longer to build and is less convenient for the majority of future Metro riders.
Misinformation is being circulated that the above ground station would ruin the beauty of Dulles and that passengers would have to pull luggage along long distances exposed to the elements. Neither is true and should not be used to make the case for an underground station. Additionally, MWAA should not expect the higher ($330 million) cost to be covered by the jurisdictions that have rejected it.
I am confident that good sense and facts will prevail. I am looking forward to a discussion with members of the MWAA board so that an agreement can be reached regarding the most logical, cost effective and convenient choice for a station at the airport. Rail to Dulles is Fairfax County’s highest transportation priority and it must not be delayed.
Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors