I have questioned the desire to extend Metro rail to Dulles from the start. A "third rail" subway line would appear to require more construction and maintenance than other rail options, especially in inclement weather. Shuttle service and a directly Metro-accessible airport already exist, leading to questions about necessity and cost-benefit. The Dulles Corridor Rail Association has a website, but the answers to these questions are not readily available.
The authority that controls Dulles International Airport made a move yesterday to take over the state-run Dulles Toll Road and seize control of construction of a rail line to the airport, hoping to ensure that the troubled project moves forward.
As owner of the land on which the toll road is built and much of the rail line would reside, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority could stop efforts underway to privatize the highway if its proposal is rejected. Because of the authority's clout, the proposal carries enormous consequences for one of the biggest rail projects in the nation and promises higher tolls on one of the most heavily used commuter routes in the region.
Airport officials said they could build the entire Metrorail line from the West Falls Church Station to Loudoun County faster than current plans, which call for it to be done in two phases, completed by 2015. They said they were concerned that the second half of the project -- bringing rail to the airport -- would be abandoned for lack of funds and political will.
Under its plan, the authority would take over the toll road from the state government and use its revenue to fund the state's portion of the first half of the rail line as well as the state and federal share of the second phase.
That being said, I'm encouraged by the Airports Authority's move. The new Metro line is primarily designed to serve the airport, making the airport the most appropriate party to take responsibility. Not only are they not sitting around crying about federal funding, but they plan to build it faster and without federal funding.
For our readers far outside the Beltway, Dulles International Airport (IAD) is located well outside the Beltway in Virginia, "approximately 26 miles from downtown Washington, D.C." - a Metro line to Dulles will be by far the longest in the area.
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