Dulles Rail Gets Federal Approval – The Post
As expected (since this morning at least), USDOT announced today that it is now supporting the proposal to build the Silver Line along the Dulles Corridor.
In a letter to Kaine and in a 10 a.m. conference call with the governor and Virginia congressional leaders, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said the $5 billion project had finally met the Federal Transit Administration’s standards for cost efficiency, construction and expected ridership. The project will now move into the final design phase, a major step toward receiving $900 million in federal funding.
“As a result of the collaboration between federal and state officials, the project sponsor and other project stakeholders, the financial stability and oversight of the project has improved,” Peters wrote to Kaine in a letter obtained by The Washington Post. “Cost reductions have been verified and mechanisms have been established to enhance inter-organizational cooperation, technical capacity and project management.”
Good news, but this isn’t fait accompli just yet:
Still, Peters went on, “much work remains” to make the project right. Today’s approval comes with conditions that must be met if the project is to receive federal funding. Without that money, state and local officials have said that the project would die, ending the possibility of a long-sought rail connection between the nation’s capital and its major international airport. Supporters say the line would ease congestion through Virginia’s biggest jobs corridor and keep the economy humming with the transformation of suburban Tysons Corner into a thriving downtown.
Among the conditions, Peters said in her letter, is a sweeping demand that Virginia and the Metro system guarantee the capital investment necessary to maintain and operate Metro. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority recently identified $489 million in “urgent unfunded capital needs,” Peters said.
Virginia better not drop the ball on this one.
There is a chat about the decision going on right now on washingtonpost.com.
EARLIER: Silver line back on track?!
UPDATE 6:30 a.m. Thursday: I will be posting more about this topic after 12 p.m. today, so check back later.