The Washington Post

MWAA wants $7 million expansion? Really? Now?? (UPDATE: Station going above ground)

The current MWAA boardroom. Can’t you pick up a used one on Craigslist? (Gerald Martineau for The Washington Post)

UPDATE: MWAA voted today to reverse its April decision, and place the Metro station at Dulles Airport above ground. No word on whether they’re reversing the $7.2 million “regal” expansion, though.

ORIGINAL POST: As the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority enters a meeting today to try to hammer out an agreement on the Dulles Metro station, The Post’s Ann Marimow tossed this grenade into the room last night: MWAA is planning to spend $7.2 million to expand its own headquarters and build a huge new boardroom.

Really? Now?

The expansion was approved in December, before MWAA decided in April that the Dulles Metro station should be built underground, and closer to the airport, at an additional cost of $330 million. This has brought down the wrath of politicians on all sides, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has ordered up a federal audit of MWAA, Loudoun County has made noises about pulling out of the project, and many people are wondering what MWAA was thinking.

This morning, MWAA is voting on whether or not to go with a compromise worked out by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that would put the new station above ground and back near an existing garage. Marimow is live tweeting from the meeting on @amarimow.

People watching the vote may be mindful of these other tidbits Marimow uncovered about MWAA’s planned expansion: They just finished an expansion of their National Airport headquarters in 2008; there are several “executive offices” in the expansion with “no designated purpose;” and they want a $350,000 audio-visual setup.

One former board member, David Speck, told Marimow the plans surfaced without “a clear explanation or rationale for why we wanted to spend the money to create a more regal setting.”

Regal? No designated purpose? If it weren’t already buried, conceptually, the underground station may be gone for good now.

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.


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