Potential cost overruns for Phase 1 of Rail-to-Dulles: $150 million

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The first phase of the 23-mile Metrorail extension from East Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue in Reston could come in as much as $150 million over budget, the project’s executive director told members of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Wednesday.

“The forecast is within budget, but there’s some challenges we need to deal with,” said Pat Nowakowski, calling the worst-case $150 million figure a “speculative guess.”

Mr. Nowakowski said that there are a number of “mitigation efforts,” including reducing the scope of the project if they can, that would allow the $2.8 billion project to come in at or under cost.

He said that the 11.5-mile piece of the project is projected to finish under budget by about $9 million, but told reporters after the meeting that if there were cost overruns, partners involved in its funding agreement - which include Fairfax and Loudoun counties and the airports authority — would foot the bill.

The board also discussed ways to cut costs and/or provide more revenue for Phase 2 of the project, which is supposed to run through Dulles Airport and into Loudoun County.

“We do want to make sure we cast as wide a net as possible,” said Robert Clarke Brown, who chairs the board’s finance committee. “As far as I’m concerned, we should be pursuing further cost reductions.”

Jack Potter, the president and CEO of the authority, said it was his understanding that the state of Virginia would contribute no more than an additional $150 million — contingent on a final agreement with MWAA, Metro, the federal government and local stakeholders.

Vice Chairman Thomas M. Davis III suggested tolling the Dulles Access Road as one option to raise more money for the project, but Board Chairman Charles D. Snelling said “anything we did with that would have severe repercussions in getting people out to Dulles.”

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