The second phase of Silver Line will cost an additional $250 million

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Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority officials are seeking an additional $250 million in funding to pay for construction of the second phase of the Silver Line rail project, citing project complexity, coronavirus restrictions, an increase in the cost of construction materials construction and supply chain slowdowns as key drivers of cost increases.

The extra dollars will push the price of the second phase of the rail line, which was originally scheduled to open in 2018, to just over $3 billion. The original estimate was around $2.8 billion.

The request must be approved by the MWAA board of directors at its meeting on Wednesday. The MWAA is overseeing construction of the rail line, which will eventually become part of the region’s subway system and will be managed and operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

The additional cost would be split among the project‘s funding partners, which include Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, MWAA and Dulles Toll Road users according to a predetermined formula. According to a staff report, the increase will not impact toll rates, which are expected to increase next year according to a previously published schedule.

Last month, a presentation to the MWAA board of directors indicated that the project was still on budget.

“I just learned of this today and will be considering it carefully,” said Jeffrey C. McKay (D-At Large), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “Cost increases on projects of this size are never pleasant, but neither are they unusual.

“Having said that, we will fully analyze and review the reasons to be sure that this is the final financial adjustment for this project and that Fairfax County has no further capital payment obligations.”

Loudoun County officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Why the second phase of Metro’s Silver Line was more trouble-prone than the first

The MWAA said it arrived at the figure of $250 million after concluding negotiations with its contractors and with Metro officials. The funding will include a reserve of money that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority can tap to cover additional expenses related to issues that arise during construction, including concerns about faulty signs installed at five of the six new stations that will be part of the railway extension. .

The MWAA declared the project essentially complete at the end of last year. Last month, Metro took control of the rail extension, a milestone that raised the possibility that passenger service could begin this fall. Once open, the rail line will extend service into Loudoun County and include a stop at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Metro takes control of the Silver Line extension and begins the testing phase

Because it appeared to be less difficult than the first phase of the project, which involved building a tunnel under Tysons and constructing large sections of track on the Capital Beltway, airport authority officials had hoped to save money. money on the second phase of the project. Initial bids for the construction of the rail line were lower than MWAA’s estimates.

But these hopes were quickly dashed and the entrepreneurs found themselves in trouble. For example, an early decision to comply with new stormwater management requirements increased the cost of the project and caused a 13-month delay. Later projects pushed the project’s opening date even later.

By comparison, the first phase of the project, which included five stations – four in Tysons and one in Reston – was six months behind schedule and more than $220 million over budget. It was built by Bechtel.

Bechtel had hoped to win the contract to build the second phase of the rail line, but the MWAA turned to another company: Capital Rail Constructors, a joint venture between Bethesda-based Clark Construction Group and Kiewit Infrastructure Group. Hensel Phelps was hired to build the rail yard which was also part of the project.

The companies were selected by the MWAA not only for their technical know-how, but also because they said they could build the railway extension and the rail yard cheaper than their competitors.

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