“The schedule has been changed,” said Jack Potter, chief executive of MWAA. “We had more days where we couldn’t construct because of weather.”
The 11.5-mile first leg is under construction from Falls Church through Tysons Corner to Reston. Officials have said that portion of the extension should be ready for riders by December 2013, following tests by Metro.
But Dulles Transit Partners, the lead contractor on the $2.8 billion project, estimated in a progress report last month that the delay was far more: 188 days.
MWAA officials dispute that estimate.
“They play games trying to make the case for us holding them up,” said Pat Nowakowski, executive director of the Dulles rail project.
He said MWAA is in dispute with Dulles Transit Partners, led by the construction and engineering firm Bechtel, over an electrical substation at Hunter Mill Road that will help power trains. The substations were supposed to be installed in sequence along the rail line, but crews found a gas line in the way at Hunter Mill, he said.
Instead of skipping it and moving along to the next one, Nowakowski said, Dulles Transit Partners is projecting that it will take substantial time to address the substation problem and has added that to the project.
But Leslie N. Pereira, spokeswoman for Dulles Transit Partners, said the contractor “is confident that construction of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project can be completed on schedule. We continue to work cooperatively with MWAA to develop and agree on an appropriate mitigation plan.”
Pereira said the contractor works to identify early “issues that have the potential to impact schedule or cost.” The parties then work together on a solution, she said, a process that “has proven very successful” on the Dulles project.
However, Hill International, hired by the federal government to provide oversight, has described the negotiations between Dulles Transit Partners and the airports authority as “difficult and protracted.” It called some of Dulles Transit Partners’ schedules “a tactical posturing move by DTP to argue costs.”
MWAA board members expressed concern during a meeting Wednesday about the dispute with the contractor.
Mame Reiley, chair of the MWAA committee for the Dulles rail project, said she understands some delays, but she is concerned about the negotiations to get the project on track.
“It’s been going on for so long,” she said. “It really needs to come to some settlement.” She said it is “imperative” the disputes be resolved before bidding starts on the second phase of the project. Local, state and federal officials are still negotiating how to pay for the second phase, which will stretch from Wiehle Avenue to Dulles International Airport and Route 772 in Loudoun County.