The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Lawmakers send letter requesting update on latest Silver Line delay

U.S. Reps. Wexton, Beyer and Connolly express concerns about project’s repeated setbacks.

The Silver Line extension in Herndon. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

The latest delay in the opening of the Silver Line extension prompted three members of Congress to call for an update Tuesday on issues cited for the setback.

U.S. Reps. Jennifer Wexton, Don Beyer and Gerald E. Connolly, all Virginia Democrats, sent a letter to officials at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is overseeing construction of the 11.5-mile extension to Loudoun County. The second phase, which includes a link to Dulles International Airport, originally was scheduled to open in mid-2018 but has faced numerous construction mistakes, allegations of falsified test results and a lawsuit resulting in a million-dollar civil settlement.

The project seemed to reach a milestone when the airports authority declared it had finished a rail yard in December. But last week, Metro officials said three “no-go” issues continue to stand in the way of the transit agency taking possession of the line.

Silver Line extension takes a large step forward with completion of rail yard at Dulles Airport

Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said last week at a Metro board meeting that the latest issues will push back a possible opening until at least July.

The House members cited his update in urging MWAA to address the incomplete tasks in a “timely manner.” The lawmakers noted some of the issues “have been known about for months.”

Metro officials say Silver Line will not open until at least July because of outstanding issues

“To that end, we request that you share with us what expectations for timely resolution of these items you have conveyed to your contractors and how those expectations are being enforced,” they wrote.

The extension has long been viewed as an economic boon for Northern Virginia, attracting tech companies and other businesses to build offices along the line.

“Phase 2 of the Silver Line presents a major opportunity for the continued growth and development of our region, and we look forward to the swift completion of a system that is safe, reliable, and built to last,” the House members wrote.

The letter was sent to John E. Potter, MWAA’s president and chief executive, and MWAA board Chairman William Sudow. MWAA spokeswoman Marcia McAllister said Tuesday that contractors have been working on a daily basis with Metro to ensure the issues are resolved.

“We were glad to see the letter because it emphasizes what we’ve been doing all along,” she said. “We are confident that we will continue to work positively with [Metro].”