WASHINGTON — The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has substantially improved its proposal to extend Metrorail, responding various concerns the Department of Transportation raised in January, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced.
“Consequently, we have sent the required 10-day notification to Congress that we intend to move the project into the Final Design stage of FTA’s New Starts Process,” Federal Transit Administrator James S. Simpson said in a statement. “FTA will commit $158.7 million to use toward completion of a financial plan, construction plans, detailed engineering specifications and cost estimates, and other technical requirements.
“However, there are still hurdles facing this project and we will not commit any federal funds for construction until a number of outstanding issues are resolved,” Simpson added. “These issues include MWAA’s ability to: ensure that sufficient funds are available to cover risks; demonstrate that the project can proceed on schedule and on budget; properly oversee the single largest design-build contract in the history of the New Starts program. In addition, we must be assured that state-of-good-repair needs for the entire Metro system will be addressed.”
Meanwhile, Metrorail officials say the rail extension is an important one and will help cut down on traffic and pollution.
“The extension of Metrorail through Tyson’s Corner and onto Dulles International Airport is a vital element in the region’s transportation plan,” Metro Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said in a statement. “It will provide an essential connection in the National Capital Region, help reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, and promote transit-oriented development in a crucial economic corridor.
“For all of these reasons, the Transit Authority has long supported this project and is prepared to operate it when completed,” Zimmerman added.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and Simpson worked with Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and various other officials to reach the accord.
“This project can be responsibly managed and meet statutorily-required thresholds for cost, risk and other factors under the New Starts process,” Simpson said. “It is our hope that the project will continue down this path toward success and deliver a vital and new rail capacity for the region.”