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LaHood calls Metro's Silver Line model for the country

Monday - 8/13/2012, 5:53pm  ET

LaHood's intervention helps end stalemate on Dulles Rail

Hank Silverberg, WTOP reporter

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Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

HERNDON, Va. - Like the Panama Canal and other influential projects in history, Metro's Silver Line is a model for big success.

That's how U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is describing the line's construction to Dulles International Airport.

"This is the story similar to the Panama Canal, the Hoover Dam, the Interstate system," he says. "This is a model. We're gonna take this on the road. We're gonna talk about this project in other places in the country."

LaHood, who was the guest speaker at the Washington Airports Task Force's 30th birthday celebration Monday, says the agreement and subsequent funding deal on the projects will be used as a model elsewhere in the country.

The transportation secretary intervened earlier this year to end a stalemate for Phase Two of the Metro extension project, which was stalled over funding questions.

Phase One, which is almost complete, was partially funded with more than $900 million from the federal government. Phase One will extend the Silver Line to Wiehle Avenue in Reston.

LaHood was upbeat about the project's long-term success in supplying good rail transportation to Dulles. The task force has promoted economic development in the Dulles corridor since 1982.

But outside the room, he told WTOP he still wants changes from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

"We need to make sure we have a board that has a vision about the Silver Line and a vision about how to run airports properly," he says.

There is currently a push to give Virginia more members on the Airports Authority board, which controls both Dulles International and Reagan National airports along with the Dulles Toll Road. Revenue from the road will be used to partially finance the 23-mile Silver line.

The overall project could cost more than $6 billion. The Silver Line is slated to branch off the Orange Line, immediately east of the West Falls Church Metro, to Dulles Airport and two stops in Loudoun County.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)