Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

RCA Resolution Calls for Audit of Silver Line Costs, Funding, and Scheduling

Regarding the Need for an Audit of the Cost, Funding, and Scheduling of Silver Line Construction
Reston Citizens Association
Board of Directors
October 24, 2011

Whereas, in 2004, the federally-mandated Final Environmental Impact State (FEIS) projected the cost of constructing the Metrorail line to Loudoun County via Dulles International Airport (the Silver Line)  would be $3.5 billion and would be completed in 2015, with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) paying half ($1.75 billion), Virginia paying 25% (875 million), and Fairfax (16.1%), Loudoun (4.8%), and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) (4.1%) paying the balance, and

Whereas, the FTA tracked at least three major cost estimate increases totaling more than 77% and four years of completion delays for Phase 1 of the Silver Line from the December 2004 FEIS projections.  These are reflected in the following table that is part of the FTA Inspector General’s “Baseline Report on Major Project Monitoring of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project,” July 27, 2007.  The report also identifies the numerous reasons leading to these projection increases, including “the lack of design and/or missing scope in the 100% PE design.”
Whereas MWAA, Loudoun, and Fairfax counties (“the Funding Partners”) agreed on September 11, 2007, to pay 25% of the cost of the Silver Line’s construction cost and that 100% of the amount remaining after all other contributions by the Funding Partners” would be paid through increases to Dulles Toll Road tolls, leaving toll road users to pay over half of all the Silver Line’s total costs and three-quarters of any cost increases, and

Whereas, on September 15, 2010, MWAA released a statement saying the preliminary cost estimate for  Phase 2 could be as high as $3.8 billion rather than $2.5 billion, including an underground station beneath Dulles terminal (“the preferred alternative”),  for a total of $6.5 billion—an 85% increase from the December 2004 FEIS projections, and

Whereas, efforts led by the FTA to cut the costs of Phase 2 this year, other than moving the Dulles Metrorail station above ground, have largely consisted of shifting the added costs to Fairfax and Loudoun counties, an approach that would result in higher taxes for local residents and businesses, and

Whereas, MWAA and the builder, Dulles Transit Partners—DTP, have now acknowledged that the completion of Phase 1 will be delayed by up to six more months and may be as much as $150 million over its current budget with construction half complete, and

Whereas, a 100% preliminary engineering (PE) design for Phase 2, scheduled to be released last June, has yet to be completed and, therefore, no reasonable estimate of the final cost of Phase 2 can be made and—based on the history of major cost escalations and delays experienced in Phase 1, including flaws in the 100% PE design—may still be unrealistic, and

Whereas, many of the same officials are making new commitments of taxpayer and toll road user monies in closed financial discussions based on construction cost and schedule estimates that are incomplete and almost certainly underestimated,

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Reston Citizens Association Board of Directors calls for:

A full and complete independent audit of the cost of the Silver Line—Phase 1 and Phase 2—that examines the costs, funding, and scheduling of current and future work that is overseen by a public panel comprising a balance of experts, local officials, and area residents selected by local Congressmen before a final decision is made by federal, state, local, or airport officials on whether to proceed with the Silver Line beyond the completion of Phase 1. 
  • In our view, the independent auditor should not have a current or recent relationship with any of the parties involved.
  • Members of the oversight panel should be area residents who are respected, knowledgeable, and independent who are selected equally by local Congressional Representatives Frank Wolf (R) and Jim Moran (D).  The panel will select its own chairperson. 
  • All meetings of the panel will be public and held in venues that encourage a public presence. 
  • Fairfax and Loudoun counties will provide support for the oversight panel and while the US Department of Transportation will fund the audit. 

Colin Mills, President
Reston Citizens Association

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