Friday, December 23, 2005

Dulles Transit Update

From The Washington Post:

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.

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.

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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w00t said...

Anything that does not take public money to do for this kind of project is generally a good idea.

Several years back there was an attempt to convince taxpayers that paying for the Dulles Greenway was a great idea. The voters killed that idea quickly enough with the referrendum and the eventual investors lost boatloads of money on that project. It still doesn't pay its keep from what I understand.

Also, is there a single railway system in the whole country that actually pays its own way? To my knowledge, there may only be one at most that is efficient. The rest including ours, cost the taxpayers money.

Nick said...

I believe there's an Amtrak line in the Northeast that is at least mostly self-sufficient.