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Attn: Silver Line Update

  1. Loudoun Times-MirrorCounty officials say nearly 50 percent of Loudoun’s Metrorail construction complete

  2. About 50 percent of the construction for the second phase of the Dulles Metrorail project is now complete, according to Loudoun County transportation staff.

Last week the Board of Supervisors awarded the county’s final contract directly related to Metro for more than $51,000 to S.B. Ballard Construction Company for the design-build delivery for the Metro parking structures.

Phase two of the Metro Silver Line extension adds six stations from the Reston-Wiehle East station to complete the final 11.4 miles of the 23.1-mile Silver Line project. Three of those six stations will be located in Fairfax County and the other three in Loudoun, which include the Dulles Airport, Loudoun Gateway (Route 606) and Ashburn (Route 772) stations.

Additionally on May 2, county Director of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure Joe Kroboth gave an overview of where Loudoun stands on its Metrorail construction.

Kroboth said in 2016 both the construction and the civil construction components of the Metrorail had “ramped up significantly,” resulting in quicker turnaround on the Silver Line extension into Loudoun.

He also said most of the project’s concrete structures have been precast and set in place.

Kroboth’s presentation came as Loudouners have been increasingly calling for the county to opt out of Metro — or“Mexit” — because annual costs associated with Metro’s operations and construction have been skyrocketing for jurisdictions around the region, including in Loudoun County.

From fiscal 2017 to 2018, the jurisdictional funding for capital costs in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have shot up between 90 percent to more than 200 percent.

In the first quarter of 2017, the bulk of the nearly 50 percent of completed construction was centered on the Loudoun Gateway and Ashburn stations.

According to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), the Dulles Airport station is slated to be complete June 2018 and its pedestrian and tunnel access this October. MWAA predicts the Loudoun Gateway station will be complete October 2018 and its station area and pavilion building in March 2018. Meanwhile, MWAA says the Ashburn station is slated for a February 2019 completion date and its north station area pavilion and south station pavilion building slated to both be complete June 2018.

Kroboth said the official “substantial completion date” for the Silver Line extension into Loudoun is set for August 2019. After that date, there will be several operational readiness tests before the Metrorail system officially opens in 2020.

During recent discussions, some supervisors have asked staff how much it would cost the county to opt out of Metro.

County administration said at a board meeting in February that in order for Loudoun to get out of Metro, Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia — members of the WMATA Compact — would need to pass an amendment to the compact. Congress would also need to sign off.

Even if Loudoun could get itself out of the compact, the county would still be on the hook for the federal TIFIA loan it has taken out to pay for the Silver Line’s construction and the three parking garages.

To help pay for the unexpected high costs, local leaders have been calling for dedicated sources of funding from the federal government and the General Assembly.

Meanwhile, in an effort to get Metro in a safe and reliable state, WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said in April that $15.5 billion would be needed over the next decade.

Wiedefeld warned that without a change to its business model, funding jurisdictions would have to continue to choose each year “between substantially reducing service” or finding $12 billion more in public money for Metro’s operations over the next decade.

Wiedefeld also called on local lawmakers to create a $500 million dedicated regional revenue stream for capital improvements.

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