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LaHood tries to iron out Dulles Rail problems

Thursday - 6/2/2011, 4:31am  ET

Dulles Rail Construction at I-66 (Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project/Chuck Samuelson)
Construction of the subway line to Dulles continues close to Metro's Orange Line, near Interstate 66. (Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project/Chuck Samuelson)

Adam Tuss,

WASHINGTON - It's not every day the U.S. Transportation Secretary calls you into his office to try and iron out the differences with a local transportation project.

That's exactly what U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood did Wednesday with the parties involved in the Dulles Rail Project.

Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton described the meeting as "positive," saying all the sides agreed to take another look at things.

"Everyone reaffirmed their commitment to revise the scope of the project, reduce the costs, and develop a financing plan," Connaughton tells WTOP.

Asked whether that meant the decision to build a more expensive underground Metro station at Dulles could be reversed and a less expensive above ground station built, Connaughton said everything "is on the table."

It's estimated that an underground station at Dulles would cost $330 million more than an aerial option. However, the underground station would be hundreds of feet closer to the terminal and more convenient for travelers.

Connaughton already asked the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to reconsider its decision to go underground at Dulles, and he continues that push.

"You can't take the biggest nut off the table when you're talking about cutting costs," said Connaughton on WTOP's Politics of Transportation program last week.

All the groups involved with the project will meet again next month.

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