State, national and international firms yesterday offered more than $1 billion to extend commuter rails to Washington Dulles International Airport and make more than a dozen improvements on the Dulles Toll Road.
“This should be seen as a twin win for the community and for the commonwealth,” said former Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, who represents the investors group called the Dulles Corridor Mobility Initiative.
In a press conference at Tysons Corner, the group said the rail system and the 19 improvements are needed to reduce traffic congestion, improve safety and manage the Toll Road more efficiently and without damaging the surrounding community.
“If transportation cannot move people from home to work, from work to market, it rapidly becomes the largest handicap,” Mr. Baliles said.
J. Kenneth Klinge, principal of Alexandria-based JKK Associates and a former member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, said the group will fund the state’s share of the project.
“We are simply, if you will, a bank,” he said.
Rail to Dulles, as it is called, will improve traffic and prevent gridlock, which is increasing throughout the D.C. area, Mr. Klinge said.
“It will begin to pay back the people that have paid the tolls that will make the rail project possible,” he said.
Rail service to Dulles would serve as many commuters as would three more highway lanes, but with less air pollution, proponents of the project said.
Virginia officials will study the proposal and consider any competitive bids on the project for 90 days.
The federal government ultimately would pick up 50 percent of the cost, and Virginia would pay 25 percent. Fairfax County would pick up 16.1 percent of the cost, Loudoun County would pay 4.8 percent, and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority would pay 4.1 percent.
The Toll Road improvements would take place in several areas between Interstate 495 and Route 28 near Dulles Airport.
The improvements would include new ramps connecting I-495 to the Toll Road, the rehabilitation of bridges and the resurfacing of the Toll Road. Electronic tolls also would be improved.
Dulles Corridor Mobility Initiative members are Citigroup Global Markets, Clark Construction Group LLC, Shirley Contracting Co. LLC, Dewberry & Davis, Autostrade International of Virginia O & M Inc., Trident Investment Group LLC of Vienna, Va., Public Private Solutions Inc. of Leesburg,Va., Hunton & Williams law firm, John Laing plc, Infrastructure Investment Group and JKK Associates.
“About a year ago, we thought there was a growing opportunity for this proposal,” said Curtis M. Coward, a principal of the Infrastructure Investment Group. “We believe the Rail to Dulles project is vital to economic vitality and quality of life in Northern Virginia.”
If Virginia officials approve the project, work would begin July 3. Most of the work along the Toll Road would be completed by mid-2009.
Phase I would extend Metro rail service from the West Falls Church Station to Wiehle Avenue in Reston. Phase II would extend rail service from Wiehle Avenue through Dulles Airport to Route 772 in Loudoun County.