- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project finally became reality Tuesday when the federal government committed $900 million in construction funding to the effort. It is the third-largest U.S. capital construction agreement in history, officials said.

“If this is not the greatest day for Virginia, I don’t know what is,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said after signing a $3.1 billion agreement on the project’s first phase with Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Chairman H.R. Crawford. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, also attended the event.

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 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.

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

“I have never worked on anything as important as this,” Mr. Kaine said.

He had been governor for only one month when the proposal for a Metrorail expansion was brought to his office in 2006, and he immediately jumped on board.

Construction is projected to create an immediate, positive effect on the local economy, officials said.

“This is the true meaning of bipartisanship,” Mr. LaHood joked, “when the president gives the only Republican in his nominated Cabinet the most amount of money to spend in the recovery program.”

According to officials, the project is expected to provide up to 700 jobs for local workers. Additionally, expenditures on salaries, goods and services are expected to reach $300 million.

“This is a great day for our region of the world,” Mr. LaHood said.

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