The Federal Transit Administration’s oversight of the Silver Line rail project must be more responsive to safety issues and more aggressive in its monitoring of costs and scheduling, according to a federal audit released last week.
The rest of this article provides a some details on the areas of concern. It includes a claim by "proponents" of the line that it will carry 60,000 passengers a day--a number we are not sure appears in any published forecast of future passenger use, although we would like to see the Silver Line fully utilized.
The 44-page report by the Department of Transportation’s inspector general focuses on what actions the FTA has taken to address safety concerns first raised in 2009. It also recommends that the agency use its oversight role to ensure that costs are more closely monitored.The 23-mile Silver Line rail project is being built by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and is one of the nation’s largest infrastructure projects. But the project has been dogged by political battles over its price tag, disputes over funding, and concerns about whether MWAA and other parties involved in its construction are doing enough to ensure passenger safety. . . .
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This final report is the first of two US DOT's OIG is conducting of MWAA's management of Silver Line construction. The other report focuses on Phase 2. It's preliminary report on the results of that Phase 2 audit were presented in an interim letter to Congressman Frank Wolf--who called for the audit--in mid-May.
We certainly share the view that MWAA needs greater responsible outside oversight because, as of now, it has none. It is a power unto itself, even ignoring the Virginia Governor's appointment of new members to the MWAA Board of Directors. In another step in that direction, Congressman Frank Wolf is leading a legislative effort to create a permanent Inspector General for MWAA, but that is not an effort that will become reality before this year's elections.
For those of you who would like to read the DOT's Office of Inspector General's full44-page report, we provide this link to the full PDF download. Below is the summary of the report:
On July 26, 2012, we issued our report on the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) oversight of phase 1 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project. This was a self-initiated audit subsequent to a Management Advisory we issued in October 2009, which expressed concerns about the safety of using 11 pier foundations to support part of the Dulles project’s guideway. Our audit found that while FTA implemented an oversight process to ensure that MWAA tested the 30-year-old pier foundations, the testing process has not yet provided assurance that the structures will meet the 50-year service life specified in FTA guidance. We also found that, as of February 2012, when we issued our draft report, FTA had not taken sufficient mitigation actions to address key project issues that put the schedule, cost estimate, and funding from the 2009 Full Funding Grant Agreement at risk. In its response to our draft report, FTA agreed to direct additional testing to further ensure the 50-year service life for the structures and to take acceptable actions to address the key project issues we raised.