Silver Line Construction: By The Numbers

Online discussion about Phase 2 on Friday.

You may have lost track of the big picture of the Silver Line subway construction from Falls Church through McLean and Tyson's Corner to  Dulles Airport because it has disrupted traffic and changed the landscape forever.

Two new subway stations are located in McLean on Dolley Madison Boulevard and another directly opposite Tysons Corner Mall main entrance. Two other stations are located along Route 7 between Route 123 and the Dulles Access and Toll Roads.

Here's where the project stands by the numbers.

1. The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project is a 23-mile extension of Metro’s Orange Line. When finished it will whisk riders from downtown Washington to Dulles Airport in one ride, no transfers.

2. It is under construction in two phases. Phase 1, from East Falls Church through Tysons Corner to Wiehle Avenue in Reston, is currently
under construction and is expected to open in late 2013.  Yes, next year. The second phase will extend westward into Loudoun County and provide a one-seat, no-transfer ride from Dulles Airport to downtown Washington.

3. Officials say the final phase of a project to extend Metrorail to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County will cost $2.7 billion. The new estimate is slightly lower than preliminary estimates agreed to by officials.

Drivers who use the Dulles Toll Road will pay for most of it through higher tolls. When the Silver line leaves Tysons Corner it goes down the middle of the Dulles Toll Road. Now that the funding is finally resolved, here's what's involved;

  • Phase 2 is 11.4 miles long and begins at the Wiehle Avenue Metrorail Station (where phase one ends), move westward serving Washington Dulles International Airport and will end near Route 772 in eastern Loudoun County.
  • The second phase has  6 stations: Reston Parkway, Herndon-Monroe, Route 28, Dulles International Airport, Route 606, Route 772

All stations, except for Dulles Airport, are in the median of the Dulles Airport Access Highway/Dulles Toll Road Corridor in Fairfax County or the Dulles Greenway in Loudoun County. The Dulles International Airport Station is across the parking bowl from the airport
terminal. All stations are above ground. The Dulles International Airport station will be the only aerial station.

4.  Who is Building Dulles Rail? The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the folks who run Dulles and Reagan National Airport are managing and building both Phase 1 and Phase 2. Project partners include the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the Commonwealth of Virginia and Fairfax and Loudoun Counties.

When each phase is completed, it will be turned over to WMATA (aka Metro Board)  to own and operate like the rest of the Metro area's subway system.

5. Phase One includes no parking garages. Phase 2 includes five parking garages  containing a total of 8,900 parking spaces. Commuter parking will be available at the Herndon-Monroe, Route 28, Route 606 and Route 772 stations. There is no commuter parking planned at Reston Parkway or Dulles Airport. Support facilities are also needed and these include:
along the Phase 2 alignment including: 10 traction power substations, 6 tie breaker stations, stormwater management facilities.

Online Chat. Join Mark Canale, Dulles Rail Project Manager, and Nick Perfili, Dulles Rail Project Planner, with Fairfax County’s Department of Transportation Friday, March 9, 11 a.m. for an online discussion on Dulles Rail, Phase 2 project financing, cost, physical layout and the process for selecting Silver Line station names.

Dulles Rail Phase 2 Project and Silver Line Station Naming Process: Submit Questions.

There are also four upcoming community meetings to get citizen input:

Monday, March 12, 6:30 p.m.: South County Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, Community Room 221A/B.  

Wednesday, March 14, 6:30 p.m.: Hutchison Elementary School cafeteria, 13209 Parcher Ave., Herndon.  

Thursday, March 15, 6:30 p.m.: Westgate Elementary School cafeteria, 7500 Magarity Rd., Falls Church.  

Monday, March 19, 7 p.m.: Fairfax County Government Center conference rooms 9/10, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax. (Transit via Fairfax Connector Routes 605, 621 and 623.)



Terry Maynard March 08, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Those are some of the numbers. Here are some more: 1. Picking up on your comment, "Drivers who use the Dulles Toll Road will pay for most of it through higher tolls." Toll road users will pay 75% of the cost of Phase 2--the issue on the table--or about $2 billion of the $2.7/$2.8 billion forecast cost. Overall, toll road users are expect to pay 54% of the $5.6 billion forecast cost of the Silver Line, or close to $3 billion. 2. Because of this massive new indebtedness, tolls will go through the roof. MWAA's toll forecaster (not RCA) projects tolls to triple to $6.75 in the next six years; to nearly quadruple in the next 10 years ($8.75); and to nearly quintuple in the next 15 years ($10.75). And on.... 3. In the same process for Phase 1 that is going on now to forecast construction costs for Phase 2, real construction costs escalated by 33% from the Phase 1 "100% preliminary engineering" cost study carried out by a neutral observer, FTA, in 2006. So debt service costs and tolls are likely to be higher than now forecast. 4. The MWAA forecaster projects that 25% of the traffic now taking the toll road will divert to local roads as tolls rise to $6.75 in 2018. That's 75 million "transactions" (toll payments) per year in 2018 versus 100 million transactions now. By our arithmetic, that is 35,000-40,000 cars shifting to local roads on workdays in the next six years.
Mike Smith March 08, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Bobbi - Please update #5 to reflect that Wiehle will have parking for 2,300 cars as part of Phase 1: http://www.dullesmetro.com/ http://www.dullesmetro.com/stations/wiehle.cfm
Roberto Mosse March 08, 2012 at 04:20 PM
After being associated with many similar projects in Brazil let me point out that the economic benefits of the project will be reduced substantially, particularly for phase one, because no parking facilities have been envisioned at the stations. In fact, I forecast a big increase in traffic on all adjacent roads given the high price to be charged for using the toll road. Any sensible long term energy policy on transport pricing should include an increase of the gas tax that should be used to pay for the cost of these projects.
John Lovaas March 09, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Two corrections to this bit of slick advertising: 1). No one will be "whisked" from Washington to Dulles ( or vice versa). They will in fact be diverted from the direct route to their destination through a four stop (+ 15 minutes) tour of Tyson's shopping areas on the way; and, there will indeed be major parking at only ONE station in Phase One--Reston's Wiehle Avenue station. No bothersome parking at any of the Tyson's stations. And, thanks to Terry Maynard of our Restons Citizens Association for adding the missing facts about the skewed, inequitable allocation of the costs of the project. Glad rail is coming here, but this is a deeply flawed project designed for the 1 % !!
Rob Whitfield March 09, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Including Metrorail station area improvements, Dulles Rail capital costs to Fairfax County taxpayers are likely to exceed $5 billion in the next 30 years.Tysons Corner landowners, who stand to gain $5 to $10 billion over the next decade, want County taxpayers to pay most of the $3 billion infrastructure improvements needed there. Dulles Toll Road users face total tolls of $10 to $15 billion over the next 50 years under MWAA's never publicly approved financial plan which taxes DTR users on their after tax money. MWAA's Dulles Rail financial forecast shows DTR tolls doubling in 2013 and almost tripling by 2016. Any Virginia funding will only "buydown" toll rates for a couple of years. Unless we stop the MWAA plan, you'll be paying over $5,000 per year to MWAA for tolls by 2022. Due to the failure of ALL of Virginia's politicians -both Democrats and Republicans, people who will ride Dulles Rail won't pay for any of its capital costs. Residents of Arlington County, Alexandria and DC will ride the rail to Tysons Corner at our expense. Over 40% of peak period Metrorail riders are federal workers making a median income of $120,000 per year. They don't want to pay anything additional for peak hour travel, leaving the system overloaded for the rest of the commuting public. WMTATA has failed for decades to raise fares to provide adequate replacement cost reserves for the 35 year old rail cars, escalators and other systems. Guess who they think should pay to bail them out-YOU!!
Diane Lewis March 09, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Many thanks to Terry Maynard and John Lovaas for pointing out the major flaws for us 99 percenters in current Silver Line planning.
Bob Bruhns March 12, 2012 at 01:50 AM
It seems to me that a major contributor to the sky high tolls, and all of the consequent problems, is the excessive COST of Dulles Rail Phase II. I have pointed out that the cost per mile of Dulles Rail Phase II is about two times the cost per mile of the Franconia-Springfield extension, allowing for inflation since 1997. The $83 million cost of the Rt 28 station confirms this two to one ratio, because a comparable station in Fairfield, Connecticut completed last year cost $39.1 million plus $4.6 million for road adjustments. And the five parking garages of Phase II cost 1.7 times as much as comparable parking garages in comparable areas. Did anyone notice that there will be A LOOP OF THREE MILES OF ELEVATED TRACK at the airport? This design needs to go back to the drawing board! It should be a dead-end spur at the air terminal; such a design could be mostly on-ground, making it much less expensive. Don't tell us it can't be done, don't pretend the cost will go up, and don't hand us another artificial emergency. Do this right, or don't do it at all! Why are we being handed double-priced rail? And why are we agreeing to pay double costs for generations? Didn't we learn arithmetic in school? What is going on here?
Stuart Rakoff March 12, 2012 at 01:46 PM
In reality this was never about Dulles - those passengers will be a small percentage of the total Silver LIne ridership. Its about continuing the urbanization of Western Fairfax, Tysons and eastern Loudon to support job and population growth that we know is coming.
Rob Whitfield March 12, 2012 at 03:10 PM
The Washington Metro Area Transit Authority, the Federal Transit Administration and Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation have failed to make public current (not 2004 EIS data) analyses of facts and assumptions used in forecasting Tysons Corner/Dulles Corridor population and employment plus projected Silver Line ridership, operating revenues, expenses, reserves for replacement costs and taxpayer subsidies needed. Since 2001, Northern Virginia has benefited greatly from the expansion of federal procurement and spending, particularly for defense and homeland security. Dr. Steven Fuller of George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis projects that $1 trillion in potential defense budget cutbacks will have a major impact on our local economy. Fuller projects that over 75% of the impact of DOD spending cutbacks in Virginia will be in Northern Virginia; he projects losses at 92,691 jobs, $5.467 billion in wages and $7.957 billion in gross regional product. As a charter member of the Military Manpower Roundtable and former Director of Manpower Planning and Analysis for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Dr. Rakoff can perhaps provide us with informed estimates of the impact of pending defense spending cuts on the Northern Virginia economy, Tysons Corner and the Dulles Corridor in particular. Given Dr. Fuller's forecast, Dr. Rakoff please explain the likely sources of local job and population growth in the next two decades.
Gerrie Smith March 20, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Thanks for your reality check. Tolls, fees
Gerrie Smith March 20, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Agreed. It would appear that prospects for reversing this scenario are bleak indeed. Thanks for your informed, insightful post.
Gerrie Smith March 20, 2012 at 12:55 AM


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