WASHINGTON - A $1.9 billion federal loan has been secured to pay for the second phase of the Silver Line to Loudoun County - a critical piece of funding that will help pave the way for construction to begin.
Virginia's congressional delegation announced the funding, which will cover most of the project's cost, Thursday.
The low-interest loan is the largest ever provided under a federal program that funds national and regional transportation projects. The dedicated funding will allow the long-awaited project to advance.
Phase Two of Dulles Rail will extend the Silver Line from the yet-to-open Wiehle-Reston Station to Dulles International Airport and beyond. Six stations will be built along with commuter hubs.
Lawmakers say the transit project will reduce congestion, shorten commutes and save drivers gas money.
"This is a huge step forward for a project that has been decades in the making," retiring Rep. Frank Wolf said in a written statement.
The funding will also freeze tolls on the Dulles Toll Road for the next five years and keep them below previous estimates beyond that, according to Rep. Gerry Connolly's office.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which runs the toll road and is overseeing construction of the Silver Line, had previously announced that tolls would remain flat through 2018.
Toll revenues will repay the loan. Loudoun and Fairfax counties plus the state of Virginia are also chipping in to pay for the more than $5.5 billion transit extension.
Phase I of the Silver Line is slated to open in July.
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