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Dulles Airport Metro Station Prompts Political Maneuvering

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The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has decided to place a Metro station at Dulles Airport above ground, rather than below.
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The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has decided to place a Metro station at Dulles Airport above ground, rather than below.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board voted Wednesday to put the station underground, at a cost of $300 million more than an above ground alternative. In doing so, it rejected the recommendations of local politicians in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, who'll be paying for a big portion of the project.

Mame Reiley, an Airports Authority board member, says those politicians are sending mixed messages. In public, Reiley says, the politicians are appearing fiscally responsible by opposing an underground station -- also known as the "preferred alternative." But in private, she says, they strike a different tone.

"I asked [them]," she says, "'If we do indeed pick the preferred alternative, are they going to be okay with it?' And I got the sense that that was the case."

But, Reiley says, they can't say that in public.

"They're put in a tough position because they do have to run for reelection," she says.

Some Loudoun County supervisors have threatened to vote to opt out of the project if costs rise too high. Reiley says she doesn't believe they will actually follow through on the threat, however, because the county's economic future is riding on the Dulles rail project.

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