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Local gov'ts. consider LaHood compromise for Dulles Metro

Wednesday - 7/6/2011, 5:55am  ET

Dulles Rail Project in McLean (WTOP Photo/Adam Tuss)
The first phase of the Dulles Rail Project is underway in McLean. (WTOP Photo/Adam Tuss)

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- The decision to build the subway underground at Dulles International Airport raised questions because of how much it will cost, and the idea of building an above-ground Metro station is being floated again.

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will review a plan on Wednesday to lower costs of the second phase of the Dulles Rail Project, which are now at $3.5 billion. A key to the deal, proposed by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, would require the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to reverse track and build the Metro Station at Dulles Airport above ground instead of below ground.

"We're not even going to entertain it if MWAA is not even willing to do the aerial station," says Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York.

The underground station has significantly raised the cost of the overall project.

York says if the aerial station is approved by the Airports Authority, Loudoun County would work out public-private partnerships for parking garages at two stations and Fairfax County would do the same for the entire Route 28 Metro station.

Fairfax County Board Chairman Sharon Bulova says Fairfax County also would be willing to set up a public-private partnership if the plans include an aerial station.

"Everyone will pitch in to try find ways to bring down the cost. MWAA needs to do their part as well," she says.

York says it's up to the Airports Authority to make the next move.

"It's kind of insulting to seem to think that they can just dip their hands into anybody's pocket and not worry about the cost."

The rail extension, being built by the airports authority, is financed in part by the federal government, by special taxing districts in both counties and by tolls on the Dulles Toll Road.

It's not clear if, or when, the airports authority will reconsider the location of the Metro station. The board meets Wednesday.

The Fairfax County Supervisors will review any compromise at a July 12 meeting.

Secretary LaHood has given all sides until July 20 to agree to the deal.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)