The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors have voted to move forward with a plan to fund the second phase of the Dulles rail project. But some supervisors and residents remain unconvinced that the so-called Silver line to Dulles Airport is a smart investment for the county.
After a public hearing on the issue, the board voted 7-2 to approve what's called an MOA or "memorandum of agreement" between Fairfax and Loudoun counties, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), Metro, and the federal government. The MOA says MWAA will build the rail station at Dulles above ground instead of below, and that the agency will bring down the overall cost of the project by $1 billion dollars -- to $2.8 billion.
Loudoun got everything it wanted in the latest agreement, according to Loudoun County Board chair Scott York.
"This was about reducing the scope of the project, in terms of the dollars," he says.
But board member Jim Burton, one of the two opposing votes, says the funding still depends far too much on rising Dulles toll road revenues, which will mean more commuters looking for non-tolled roads.
"They will drop off the toll road, saturate our side roads, and we'll be left with some other way to try to bail out financially," Burton says.
York says anyone who thinks that this project is a white elephant -- meaning "expensive and useless" -- should remember that people were once saying the same things about Dulles Airport: "It is not a white elephant -- it is essentially credited with producing the economy that we have in Northern Virginia."
A vote for final approval from the Loudoun County Board will come in March of 2012.