Sunday, January 27, 2008

More on Dulles Rail... or Shoud we Say Dulles Rail NOT

This from Toll Road News on the Feds decision to turn down the request from Virginia politicians for financial support for the $5 billion Dulles Rail project proposed for the median of the Dulles Toll Road and Dulles Greenway. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters told Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine and other Northern Virginia politicians in a meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday and the thumbs down was formally announced in a four page letter to Gov. Kaine (PDF) by the head of the Federal Transit Administration James S. Simpson.

Toll Road News adds that the choice of the the Airports Authority (MWAA) to run the project raised eyebrows at the FTA. The administrator notes that MWAA is "a first-time New Starts applicant that lacks experience" with rail projects and design-build contracts "raising serious questions about its ability to control project costs and schedule." The Transit Administrator says nothing about the MWAA's complete lack of expertise in running a toll road - supposedly the basis for generating surplus revenues to be pledged in the bond markets as security for borrowings to cover the Airport Authority's financing of the loser rail line. The FTA chief notes that the design-build (DB) contract for the first segment of Dulles Rail which would fizzle out in the median of the Toll Road midway between Tysons Corner and Dulles Airport is for $1.6 billion, the largest DB project proposed in the history of FTA programs.

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