The partners working to build an extension of Metrorail to Dulles Airport are deeply divided, and their funding agreement is on the verge of collapse. Now, the federal government is stepping in.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called everyone involved into his office Wednesday to try to work out a negotiation.
The dispute centers on the second phase of the so-called Silver line project, from Reston out to Dulles Airport and beyond. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority chose the more expensive of two options for a train station at Dulles, and local political leaders are refusing to pay for it.
Nothing concrete came of Wednesday's meeting, but the parties agreed to meet again in 30 days.
Airports Authority board members argue that the underground Metro station they voted for will be closer to the terminal, and preserve iconic views of the airport terminal. Local government officials in Fairfax and Loudoun counties, however, don't think those "pros" are worth the financial "con": the additional $330 million price tag.
Airports Authority Board Member Mame Reiley played down the significance of the Obama administration entering into the process.
"It wasn't an intervention," she said. "It was just coming together and working this out for Phase II."
Still, LaHood's agency will be vital to the overall Dulles rail project, as the Silver line Phase II budget relies on a $1.7 billion low-interest loan from the transportation department.
Reiley said everyone wants to see this project happen, but Loudoun County's Board of Supervisors is now looking into withdrawing its share of the funding. Loudoun would be responsible for almost 5 percent of the Phase II project cost, now estimated at $3.5 billion.
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