Here are some hard numbers to factor into the debate over whether to build the Metro station at Dulles Airport above or below ground:
Tolls on the Dulles Toll Road to pay for an underground station will cost drivers 50 cents per trip more than an above ground station, and the current $2 trip could go up to $5.50 by 2015, financial advisors told the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority this week, Adam “Sprawl and Crawl” Tuss reported on WTOP.
The authority is also considering more toll booths, higher tolls at peak hours, tolls by distance, and taxing the Dulles Access Road, which is free. Much of that is going to happen wherever they stick the station, but still...
Determined to convince the public that underground is the way to go, the airports authority on Thursday released a letter from world renowned architect Cesar Pelli, who worked with Eero Saarinen on the famous Dulles design in the 1950s. Pelli said underground is “the only appropriate and more convenient solution...the above-ground station would damage what is already a much greater and successful investment.”
The airports authority has already chosen to build the station underground and they can pretty much do what they want at this point. But local politicians are greatly opposed, in part because of an expected higher cost of $330 million and longer completion time.
Board member Robert C. Brown said Thursday that building an above ground station does not have the required environmental or historic preservation studies and approval, which could cause significant delays (the underground station has cleared those hurdles).
Also, though local leaders have said that an aerial station would be in front of the North Garage and not hinder the view of Dulles, Brown disagreed. He said elevated tracks would mar both the visual experience Saarinen intended, as well as the circular drive the architect designed to enhance the experience of seeing it.
The airports authority also notes that for travelers, a closer underground station is preferable to waiting outside on a more distant platform. This option would raise the cost of the project from $3.2 billion to $3.5 billion, roughly.
The ever-alert Restonian alerted us to this and is also hilarious.