The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s new Silver Line project chief sought to assure the public on Wednesday that an environmental design change to the second phase of the Metrorail extension to Dulles Airport will not further burden taxpayers and toll payers.
Charles Stark, newly hired to oversee the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project at MWAA, said a $548 million contingency fund will more than cover expenses related to complying with new Virginia stormwater runoff regulations designed to protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed, first reported by WAMU 88.5 on Monday.
Any construction budget increase likely would fall on drivers on the Dulles Toll Road, whose tolls are covering half the Silver Line’s estimated $5.6 billion price tag. Phase I, from D.C. to Reston, opened in July seven months late and $150 million over budget. Phase II is scheduled to reach Dulles Airport in 2018. . .
“If the contingency fund is exceeded, who is going to pay? It is going to be the taxpayer and above all the poor people driving down the Dulles Toll Road who are already being asked to pay a huge amount of money for the Silver Line,” said John Hanley, vice president of the Reston Citizens Association, a group that represents 50,000 Reston taxpayers and has been a vocal critic of the Silver Line’s financing scheme.
While the environmental design change may not exhaust the contingency by itself, other problems that may crop up between now and 2018 likely will, Hanley said.Click here for DiCaro's full report.
So neither MWAA nor Clarke Engineers, which is managing the project, know how much added money or time MWAA's unilateral decision will take to voluntarily meet new stormwater management requirements. That appears to be a failure of due diligence on MWAA's part, not to mention a lack of consideration that they are paying next to nothing while toll road users and Fairfax and Loudoun taxpayers pay more than 94% of all the added costs. And even if they don't use all the contingency fund, wouldn't it be nice to save toll road users and taxpayers a few pennies???
But the decision is just MWAA behaving like it always does--unilaterally and capriciously.