Cost of Tysons Rail Plan Trimmed 25%

By Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 11, 2005

Managers of the project to extend Metrorail through Tysons Corner announced yesterday that they have revised their drawings and cut estimated construction costs by 25 percent, reviving prospects for building the financially troubled line.

Engineers said they have reduced the estimated cost of the 11-mile Metrorail extension from $2.4 billion to $1.8 billion by shortening a proposed tunnel through Tysons Corner, altering the "architecturally significant" design of the columns supporting the elevated portions of the track and revising the design of stations.

Neither the extent of the line nor the number and position of stations has changed, the engineers said.

"Our goal was to reduce the costs, not the service," said Sam Carnaggio, project director for the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

The new price still exceeds by $300 million the project's $1.5 billion financing plan, and exactly who would foot the bill for the added expense has not been determined.

But Carnaggio and other key players seemed confident yesterday that the added costs were now manageable.

"I think this means that we are back on track," said Fairfax County Board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly. "The new number is not insurmountable."

The financing plan for the project has long assumed that the federal government would pay half and that the state and Fairfax County each would pay a quarter.

With a special taxing district on Tysons Corner landowners expected to generate a maximum of $400 million, Fairfax now would have to raise an additional $50 million toward construction.

The state is relying on money collected on the Dulles Toll Road to pay its portion.

"We have not identified any of the new funding sources," Carnaggio said. "We've just put the needs out there."

With the new price, the project still will be ranked "medium-low" for cost effectiveness according to federal standards, which is enough to win federal money by dint of recent congressional legislation allowing the project to be judged by less-stringent criteria.

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