Monday, April 25, 2011

Governor McDonnell Calls on MWAA to Reverse Metrorail Tunnel Decision

Commonwealth Does Not Support More Expensive Route for Metrorail Project

Governor Bob McDonnell sent a letter to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) today, calling on its board of directors to reconsider its recent vote to pursue a tunnel alignment for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project through the Dulles International Airport. The Commonwealth and localities have expressed frustration regarding the MWAA vote to pursue a more expensive tunnel alignment for the project.

"The tunnel alignment has, by all accounts, been shown to be the much more expensive alignment through the airport, costing hundreds of millions more than the aerial alignment with relatively minimal positive logistical or aesthetic benefit," McDonnell wrote.

"Taxpayers in Northern Virginia will bear the burden of this significant cost difference, which will make it difficult to achieve the Commonwealth's goal of reaching a total project cost close to the original $2.5 billion. I, along with the project's local government funding partners in the town of Herndon, and Loudoun and Fairfax counties, are very surprised and disappointed in the MWAA board's very costly decision and hope that upon further reflection, the board would come to the more fiscally sound decision to pursue the aerial alignment."

The MWAA board voted to pursue the tunnel alignment for the project in its meeting in early April. The decision will likely add $250 to $300 million to the project cost and places in jeopardy the original $2.5 billion estimate for completion of the next phase of work.

On April 18, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton sent a joint letter to MWAA expressing "outrage" over this decision and threatening to withhold their portion of funding unless the board reconsidered.

To read a copy of the letter, visit

According to the Washington Post
, the first phase of the Metrorail extension, which is costing $2.75 billion, connects with the existing rail system near East Falls Church and consists of four stations in Tysons Corner and one at Wiehle Avenue in Reston. It is scheduled to open in 2013. The second phase would run from Wiehle Avenue to Ashburn in eastern Loudoun and is projected to cost $3.5 billion with an underground Dulles station. The original estimate was $2.5 billion. The phase is estimated to open in 2017.

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