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Official: Dulles Rail 'absolutely' moving forward

Wednesday - 8/31/2011, 1:04pm  ET

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - As financial questions swirl around the Dulles Rail Project, the Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is making a firm claim.

"It absolutely will go forward, it will happen," Sharon Bulova tells WTOP.

Fairfax and Loudoun counties, along with the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and the federal government have all been trying to hammer out a funding agreement that would slash as much as $1 billion from the $3.5 billion price tag of the second phase of the project.

The second phase is the segment that will run from Reston to Dulles International Airport and then continue into Loudoun County.

An agreement has been reached in principle, but it is contingent on all parties making concessions. The airports authority has said it has already given up more than anyone else by reversing course on a decision to build a more expensive underground Metro station at Dulles International, instead planning a cheaper above-ground option.

Bulova says Fairfax County is also shouldering a lot of the load.

"We're being expected to pick up some additional costs that we had not originally anticipated. We're exploring how to make the project work in a way that we are being fair to our taxpayers and to people who are driving on the Dulles Toll Road," says Bulova.

As part of plan put together by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Fairfax County would have to pay for the construction of some parking garages at new Metro stations along the line, along with the planned Metro station at Route 28.

All parties involved are trying to keep the overall cost of the second phase down, because higher costs could lead to much higher tolls on the Dulles Toll Road.

Financial advisers have told the airports authority board that toll rates on the Dulles Toll Road may have to jump to $5.50 by 2015 and $10.75 by 2020. Right now, the cost of a full trip on the toll road is $2.

All parties involved in the process met Tuesday at the U.S. Department of Transportation. The MWAA board will know if a deal is in place some time in early September.

The first phase of the Dulles Rail project -- which will run from Falls Church, through Tysons Corner and stop at Reston, is fully funded and well under construction. It is expected to open in 2014.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)