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Heat Causes Work Slowdown On Dulles Metro Project

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Local politicians in Northern Virginia and now in D.C. say an underground station is far too expensive and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood agreed with them.
David Schultz
Local politicians in Northern Virginia and now in D.C. say an underground station is far too expensive and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood agreed with them.

By David Schultz

Construction workers building the extension of Metro out to Dulles Airport have been sent home early the past two days due to extreme heat.

By mid-afternoon, most workers are gone from the Dulles Metrorail project's construction site in Northern Virginia, although a few remain.

Marcia McAllister, the project's chief spokesperson, says the cost of sending some 300 workers home early is not a factor.

"Safety is the primary issue," says McAllister. "The safety of our workers is the only issue that's being considered at this point."

But exactly how much are these early-release days costing this publicly-funded megaproject? McAllister wouldn't say.

Brian Turmail, with the trade group Associated General Contractors of America, says the schedules for most construction projects of this size are pretty flexible.

"Most good contractors worth their salt will actually build into their construction schedules and their plans some amount of weather-related delays," says Turmail.

But Turmail says contractors usually assume those delays will come as a result of rain or snow, not stifling, triple-digit heat.

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