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Who Will Pay For The Silver Line's Delays?

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It's not yet clear who will pick up the tab for additional repair work on the Silver Line.
William F. Yurasko: http://www.flickr.com/photos/55676959@N00/8563510770/
It's not yet clear who will pick up the tab for additional repair work on the Silver Line.

The Silver Line Metrorail project may be inching closer to completion, but the question of who is going to pay for the delays remains unanswered.

In public, project leaders at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority refuse to point fingers, either at Metro, which is preparing to take over the Silver Line, or the contractor, Bechtel, which has been fixing the problems that have held up completion.

"The people are very interested in this. They want service to begin. So do we. We are going to do everything we can to make that happen as quickly as possible," says airports authority spokesman Christopher Paolino.

As far as who pays for the repair work now—MWAA or the contractor—Paolino said Bechtel covers the expenses at first, but who will ultimately pay will be sorted our later. "The contractor undertakes the work, such as replacing the speakers, and then there are processes within the contract that lay out how the cost is allocated afterwards," Paolino says.

This is the closest Paolino came to saying someone else may have to pay for the Silver Line's delays: "Obviously there will be a time after the project is complete to look back and address any needs such as addressing additional costs."

So far the airports authority has spent close to $2.7 billion on the Silver Line to Reston. The forecast at completion is $2.9 billion. There is only $21 million left in a contingency fund. The public is paying attention to these figures because the Silver Line largely is being financed by the tolls drivers pay to use the Dulles Toll Road.

Bechtel and its subcontractors had to replace hundreds of speakers in the rail stations, and will have to replace track side computers over the next year, just to name two among dozens of fixes necessary to open the Silver Line. Who will ultimately pay for all this remains to be seen. Bechtel did not respond to requests for comment.

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