- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2011

A Northern Virginia congressman has joined the mounting opposition to building the more expensive of two proposed Dulles Metrorail stations, saying Monday that he hoped the 13-member board that made the choice will reconsider the cheaper option.

“The people of Northern Virginia are paying for it,” said Rep. Frank R. Wolf at his Herndon office, just miles from the proposed, $912 million underground station at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Critics say the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board should have voted for the above-ground station, which will cost $300 million less, especially during such tough economic times.

The station is part of the second phase of the 23-mile long Metrorail project, which is now expected to cost $3.5 billion, including the cost of the Dulles station and extending train service from Reston to Dulles and eastern Loudoun County.

Phase II will be funded with Fairfax and Loudoun counties and the airport authority essentially covering half the cost. Revenue from the Dulles Toll Road will pay the remainder, which Mr. Wolf and others think will increase tolls.

“The citizens, taxpayers, people who use this road every day — would like to see these tolls down as much as possible,” said Mr. Wolf, a Republican.

The second phase was originally expected to cost $2.5 billion. The first phase will start new Silver Line service from the East Falls Church station to Reston and is expected to cost $2.7 billion.

Mr. Wolf also is opposed to a collective bargaining agreement the authority’s board included in the Phase II deal that establishes prehiring terms and conditions of employment. Mr. Wolf has said the agreement will result in fewer bids, which will reduce competition and drive up costs.

As a result, dozens of protesters representing labor unions attended the press conference Monday to criticize Mr. Wolf’s stance.

Opposition to the underground station, which would be built near the front of the main terminal, started within hours of the board’s April 6 decision, when state Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton, a Republican, sent a letter to board Chairman Charles Snelling expressing his disappointment.

In the letter Mr. Connaughton said that the board’s choice “will place a heavy financial burden on local funding partners.”

Last week, Mr. Connaughton joined Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon S. Bulova, a Democrat, and Loudoun Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott K. York, an independent, in sending another letter to Mr. Snelling, which said their respective Northern Virginia counties “cannot and will not fund the additional cost of the tunnel alternative” when a cheaper alternative exists.

Mr. Snelling responded Monday by suggesting they meet to discuss their concerns.

Proponents acknowledge the underground station is more expensive but argue it shields luggage-toting travelers from bad weather and is closer to the terminal by 600 feet, roughly two football fields.

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