Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dulles Rail Supporters Keep Up the Pressure

In case you missed this week's Connection newspaper article, supporters of the rail to Dulles project continue pressing forward with efforts for $900 million in federal funding for the rail project. According to the article, advocates "are calling on continued advocacy from area’s political and business leaders, to ensure the federal funds are granted."

The Connection reported that "the renogiated contract with Dulles Transit Partners schedules the construction of Phase I, to Wiehle Avenue in Reston, from March 2009 to July 2013 at the cost of $1.6 billion. The new contract, said James Bennett, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA, provides certainty for the schedule of the project’s construction, as well as its cost. Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville), an outspoken critic of the initial contract with Dulles Transit Partners, said he has not had a chance to review the renegotiated contract. However, he said, fundamental concerns exist, including the lack of bidding on the project and some open-ended issues, including costs for subcontracting."

"Under the renegotiated contract with Dulles Transit Partners, the construction of the rail extension is set to begin in March 2009. One of the factors that could delay start of the project’s construction is a lawsuit filed in January 2007 on behalf of Dulles Toll Road users challenging the commonwealth’s decision to hand the Toll Road to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA). Since the authority is not a government agency, the plaintiffs argue MWAA could not collect the toll money, an integral part of the state’s funding for the rail extension project. James Bennett, president and CEO of MWAA, said the case is scheduled to be argued at the Virginia Supreme Court in September or October. In the meantime, utility relocation continues on Route 7 in Tysons Corner and Bennett said it would soon move to Route 123. He anticipates crews would soon mobilize to begin preparation for tunneling work at the intersection of International Drive and Route 123."

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