Dulles rail project gets stimulus check

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The Department of Transportation on Thursday awarded $77.5 million in federal stimulus money to the Dulles rail project - a move that will save the project millions of dollars in financing costs.

The stimulus money does not increase the federal government’s $900 million commitment to the project, but it infuses cash that can be used to create jobs immediately and it saves about $15 million.

“Every dollar we get for the project now will continue to reduce the overall cost of the financing,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Virginia Democrat.

Mr. Connolly and Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, requested in an April 30 letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that his agency accelerate the payout of already-committed funds for Dulles rail, noting the savings in financing costs.

The first phase of the project will extend rail service 11.7 miles from Falls Church through four stops in Tysons Corner and end at Wiehle Avenue in Reston. This phase is scheduled to open in 2013, and the project will be the most significant extension of Metro since it opened in 1976. Construction is expected to begin this month.

The line will include five new stations, improvements to an existing rail yard, 64 new rail cars, and 2,300 parking spaces at the Wiehle Avenue Metro Station.

The second phase will extend the line beyond Washington Dulles International Airport into Loudoun County, so that the complete project, known as the Silver Line, extends 23 miles.

The project is the third-largest U.S. capital construction agreement in history, officials said.

Officials expect the line to serve 85,700 daily riders by 2030, including an estimated 10,000 new riders.

Mr. Connolly and Mr. Moran in their letter to Mr. LaHood said the funding infusion would help save money on Phase 1 of the project, bolster the economy, advance preliminary engineering on Phase 2 and create additional jobs now.

“I have said consistently that stimulus funds devoted to infrastructure development will benefit the commonwealth most - putting people to work and at the same time benefiting the nation’s capital needs,” said Sen. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat.

Overall, the Transportation Department awarded $742.5 million in stimulus funds to pay for transit projects in Virginia, New York, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington state.

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