Toll Road To Fund Rail Line To Dulles
Monday, March 27, 2006
The region's airports authority has reached a deal with Virginia officials to take control of the Dulles Toll Road and use the revenue to move quickly to build a Metrorail line to Dulles International Airport, sources familiar with the agreement said last night.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and the state's congressional delegation plan to announce the deal this morning in Richmond, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the papers were not signed.
The deal would remove much of the uncertainty surrounding the nearly $4 billion project to build a rail line through Tysons Corner, Reston, the airport and Loudoun County because the airports authority would assume responsibility for the state and federal portion of the cost. If the memorandum of understanding is signed today, it would give the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority the ability to guarantee that the train line would extend to Dulles -- a part of the project that is not fully funded.
"It's terrific," said one official very familiar with the negotiations.
But the deal carries broad implications for Northern Virginia commuters.
The agreement would salvage the Dulles rail project, which has struggled with costs and uncertainty under state control. The airports authority has said it can complete construction of the line by 2015. At the same time, the deal probably will mean higher tolls for drivers.
That prospect has angered Fairfax County officials.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) said the agreement, which was described to him yesterday, "has promise." But he said the state has ignored the interests of commuters on the toll road.
"I've got constituents who will be paying tolls in perpetuity," Connolly said. "That's a long time. My constituents want some assurances that there is going to be some cap on the tolls they will be paying."
Connolly said he and other Fairfax officials had pushed for a way to raise concerns about tolls, but he said state officials ignored that request.
"Lost in the haste to accept a proposal are the interests of the commuters," Connolly said.
Aides to Kaine did not return calls last night. But his spokesman, Kevin Hall, said in a statement that "Governor Timothy M. Kaine and members of the Northern Virginia Congressional delegation will announce a significant step forward in the effort to extend Metrorail to Tysons Corner, Dulles International Airport, and Loudoun County."