Reston Spring

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Reston Spring

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

LaHood Hosts Meeting to Help Save Dulles Airport Rail Extension, The Bond Buyer, May 1, 2012

By Kyle Glazier
WASHINGTON — Stakeholders in the mostly bond-financed extension of the Washington Metrorail via the new Silver Line will meet with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Wednesday, as the nation’s transit chief seeks to smooth the troubled path of a project beset by funding woes.
The approval of funding for the $2.7 billion second phase of the Silver Line — a 23-mile extension of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Orange Line to Dulles International Airport — is in doubt because two of the project’s funding partners are showing hesitation to commit.
The Loudoun County, Va., Board of Supervisors has yet to approve phase two, which stretches into Loudoun from neighboring Fairfax County, and a labor dispute is holding up Virginia’s commitment to issue $150 million of debt to finance part of the second phase. Loudoun has until July 4 to approve phase two.
Fairfax County has already given the next phase the go ahead, but the majority of funding will come from over $2 billion of bonds issued by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and backed by toll revenue from the Dulles Toll Road.
Citizen advocacy groups have raised questions about the fairness of those tolls, which are slated to rise to $6.75 per trip by 2020, according to projections commissioned by the MWAA. . . .
. . . Now LaHood, who served as a mediator during Silver Line negotiations last year, will reprise his role and seek to broker a peace between representatives of Gov. Robert McDonnell, Loudoun and Fairfax counties, MWAA and WMATA.
 "The secretary has called the meeting because he knows that the Silver Line is critical to the economic future of the region, and he wants to get all of the stakeholders in the same room so that we can make sure the project continues to move forward,” a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Transportation said.
Terry Maynard of the Reston Citizens Association, of Reston, Va., said the situation is “deteriorating rapidly.” Though the RCA expresses support for the overall concept of a rail extension to the airport, it has consistently criticized the current Dulles Rail funding structure. . . .
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