News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Metro Silver Line: Better keep clapping!

Turns out yesterday's exciting reversal of fortunes for Metro's awesome E-ticket ride to Reston, Dulles, and beyond has, shall we say, a few strings attached.

To receive the entire $900 million, project officials must not allow the cost to escalate further, and they must demonstrate that its schedule, including an optimistic Phase I completion date of 2012, can be met. Toughest of all is a demand that the Metro system's $489 million in unfunded capital repairs be addressed before it takes on operation of a new 23-mile line.
Oh, come on. A power outage here, a track fire there, a pants-optional train or two, and suddenly people are worried that Metro is falling apart and can't handle the extra capacity? Just keep clapping!
Because of the delays this year, the contract will have to be renegotiated, probably at a slightly higher cost, several officials said. And the scheduled 2012 completion date for Phase I, which would extend the new Silver Line from the East Falls Church Metro station in Arlington to Wiehle Avenue in Reston, probably would be moved back at least a year. The second phase, expected to be done in 2015, would extend beyond the airport into Loudoun.
Just keep clapping!
One issue that appears to be permanently resolved is the question of whether a tunnel would replace the project's elevated alignment through Tysons Corner. Tunnel backers had hoped that federal rejection of the project would allow state officials to start over and design a rail line with the tunnel, because it would look better and help promote urban redevelopment in Tysons. But with the project officially in final design, those hopes appear to be over.
Oh, right. The developers grassroots group that has loudly demanded the entire project be blown up unless a tunnel tiled with mosaics depicting the ghostly face of Crystal Koons is built is definitely not clapping.
Following is a statement by TysonsTunnel President Scott A. Monett regarding today’s announcement that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will approve $900 million of federal funding for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project:

“Tysons Tunnel and its tens of thousands of supporters in Northern Virginia are extremely disappointed about today’s Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project news. Despite this development we still strongly believe it to be in the best interests of Northern Virginia taxpayers that the state competitively bid the Dulles rail project and that it study a tunnel for Tysons Corner. Taking this common-sense approach would assure the residents of this region that they are not overpaying for Metro service to Dulles International Airport.

“The FTA’s stunning and unexpected reversal leaves many unanswered questions regarding what changes have been made to the Dulles rail project to make it eligible for nearly a billion dollars of federal funding."

TysonsTunnel will take time over the coming days to assess today’s developments and the overall situation. We will determine our next steps to affect competitive bidding for this multi-billion dollar public transportation project.
Well, thanks very much, Mr. Buzzkill. Maybe they can revive their awesome nuisance lawsuit, like other selfless civic-minded groups in the region, and we can all sit in traffic for another 40 years.

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