File photo of the construction scene at the Dulles Airport Metro extension project near the intersection of Route 7 and Spring Hill Rd in the Tysons Corner area of McLean on Nov. 23, 2011. (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)

This is in addition to the survey now underway by Fairfax County and Metro to get suggestions on the names for the Silver Line stations.

In fact, the project, one of the biggest public works programs in the nation, has been in the news a lot this week.

Dana Hedgpeth reports that the cost estimate for phase two, the part from Reston to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County, is down slightly. It’s still a very impressive $2.7 billion.

Project managers expect the first phase, the part that’s under construction now from the Falls Church area out through Tysons Corner and on to Wiehle Avenue in Reston, will cost $2.8 billion, though it could come in about $150 million higher than budgeted.

The first phase is scheduled to be done in late 2013. Metro’s fiscal 2013 budget, the one that starts in July and has been the subject of the fare increase hearings, has money to pay for hiring employees to staff the new line.

Metro won’t begin making money off revenue until after the transit authority has taken over the line, tested all the equipment and started taking on passengers.

Dana wrote about a staff report scheduled for presentation to the Metro Board on Thursday that indicates revenues of $1.1 million from the Silver Line during the fiscal year that starts in July 2013 and then $2.2 million from full operations during the following year, fiscal 2015.

Somewhat more fun to consider than Metro’s money problems is the survey about naming the Silver Line stations. More than 10,000 of the online surveys have been completed. People have till 5 p.m. March 21 to fill out the online form asking about the eight stations to open in Fairfax County.

How much the public’s suggestions will count for is unclear. The final decision is up to the Metro Board, but Fairfax County leaders, and those who influence them, will have a lot to say.

People are starting to get real about the Silver Line, just as they are about the 495 Express Lanes (the high-occupancy toll lanes). They’re still huge construction projects, but they’re moving toward reality.

I think this upcoming set of discussions about the costs, financing and layout of the line from Reston to the airport could be important for Fairfax residents.

This series is scheduled to start with an Ask Fairfax! online discussion at 11 a.m. Friday with Mark Canale, the county’s Dulles Metrorail project manager, and Nick Perfili, the county’s Dulles Metrorail project planner. Questions can be submitted ahead of time, and afterward a transcript will be posted on the county Web site.

Then there are four face-to-face sessions to discuss the same topics. Here’s the schedule:

Monday, 6:30 p.m.: South County Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, Community Room 221A/B. (This is reachable by Fairfax Connector Route 171 and Metrobus REX.)

Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.: Hutchison Elementary School cafeteria, 13209 Parcher Ave., Herndon. (This is reachable by Fairfax Connector Route 950.)

Thursday, March 15, 6:30 p.m.: Westgate Elementary School cafeteria, 7500 Magarity Rd., Falls Church. (Transit via Metrobus 3T.)

Monday, March 19, 7 p.m.: Fairfax County Government Center conference rooms 9/10, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax. (Transit via Fairfax Connector Routes 605, 621 and 623.)

Construction update

Construction of the Silver Line bridge in the median of Leesburg Pike (Route 7) in Tysons Corner is about to begin its final phase. The big yellow and blue truss that puts the pieces in place will cross over the eastbound lanes of Route 7.

Workers are about to temporarily shift the eastbound lanes about 30 feet to the right, so they won’t be working above traffic. This is scheduled to begin overnight Thursday.

Also beginning overnight Thursday, the ramp from the eastbound Dulles Access Highway to westbound Route 7 will be closed.

The lane shift and the ramp closing will remain for about two weeks. Then the eastbound lanes of Route 7 will shift back to the current configuration, and the ramp will reopen. The truss will then move westward.