Loudoun Supervisors Back Metro Extension

Supervisor Eugene A. Delgaudio cast the lone dissenting vote, citing potential tax ramifications of the transit project.
Supervisor Eugene A. Delgaudio cast the lone dissenting vote, citing potential tax ramifications of the transit project. (By Tracy A. Woodward -- The Washington Post)
By Sandhya Somashekhar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to support extending Metrorail to Dulles International Airport and into the county, indicating it will come up with its $240 million share of the project's cost when the time comes.

If the plan goes forward as proposed, Loudoun will have three Metro stations, one at the airport and two along the median of the Dulles Greenway in Ashburn. It will hasten the county's rapid suburbanization, but it also might alleviate traffic congestion.

The vote comes a day after Fairfax County pledged $400 million for the project, which will include elevated track through Tysons Corner despite an effort to force the stations underground. Eleven Orange Line stations are planned between East Falls Church and Ashburn, with the Fairfax segment to be completed first.

Fairfax's decision virtually ensures that the project will go forward, and Loudoun's vote increases the likelihood that the line will extend to Ashburn instead of terminating at the airport.

Loudoun has two more chances to withdraw from the project before construction begins. The board will next be asked to sign off on the project once the preliminary designs for the Loudoun phase are complete, in about 18 months.

The Loudoun supervisors noted the project's potential to bring jobs and relieve traffic. But they also expressed qualms that bringing Metro to Loudoun could mean higher tolls, higher taxes and more residents in the eastern part of the county.

"Do these potential riders who live in humble homes in my district, do they know what the tax burden really is?" asked Supervisor Eugene A. Delgaudio (R-Sterling). "We're basically trading a police station or school . . . to pay for this rail."

Delgaudio cast the lone dissenting vote, and Chairman Scott K. York (I) was absent.

The Dulles rail project is a $5.1 billion extension financed by the federal government, the state, revenue from the Dulles Toll Road, and local taxes and fees.

Loudoun is scheduled to pay its share by issuing bonds backed by the county's business and professional license tax, said Ben Mays, a budget analyst for the county. However, the board will consider other funding sources in the coming months.

Yesterday, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) praised Loudoun's commitment to a project that had long been on the books but finally appears to be on track.

"I appreciate the leadership shown by Chairman York and the Loudoun Board of Supervisors to provide local funding to extend Metrorail into the Dulles corridor," Kaine said in a statement. The "approval ensures that Phase Two of this project will extend west of Dulles Airport, ensuring transit and rail access to Loudoun for the first time."

If the board decides not to commit the money, the project will probably go forward anyway, but without the two stations in Ashburn, state officials have said.

The westernmost station, at Route 772, would be linked to a high-density development in Ashburn, and the station at Route 606 would primarily be for drive-in commuters.

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