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Loudoun County may back out of Dulles Rail Project

Wednesday - 1/25/2012, 4:17am  ET

Tysons Metro Dulles Rail Route 7 (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)
Rail construction is well underway in Tysons, along Route 7. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

FAIRFAX, Va. - The first phase of the new Silver Line is well underway, but now there's concern Phase 2 of the 23-mile Metro expansion to the airport may run into money troubles again.

Loudoun County Supervisors, with seven new members in a budget-cutting mood, have talked about possibly dropping out of the project and canceling the last two stations of the $2.8 billion project.

It's a prospect that has Fairfax County supervisors, including Pat Herrity, asking a lot of questions.

"Do the stations get built anyway if they opt out? Does that increase our costs and our liability?" asked Herrity.

A key issue for Fairfax is the parking and traffic headaches that would be created at the Loudoun-Fairfax border if the trains don't go to Loudoun.

"We would have to deal with that difficulty with more parking and more traffic," Herrity said.

Fairfax supervisors have requested the county staff work up projections on operating costs for both the first and second phase of the project over 15 years, if Loudoun opts out and if Loudoun stays in.

Much of the Dulles Rail construction being managed by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is being financed by fares from the Dulles Toll Road. Herrity says Loudoun residents will still end up paying part of the cost through those tolls.

Loudoun Supervisors Board Chairman Scott York says the new board has to get up to speed with both the money and politics of the rail project. He says it may be more than a month before that happens.

The first phase of the Metro expansion to Wiehle Avenue in Fairfax County is more than 40 percent complete.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)