By Keith Laing - 07/03/12 04:47 PM EDT
“I applaud today’s Loudoun County Board vote and congratulate Chairman [Scott] York for his leadership," LaHood, who has described Metro as "America's subway," said in a statement.
"The Silver Line will improve access for passengers traveling to Dulles International Airport and beyond while easing congestion throughout Northern Virginia," LaHood continued. "We will continue to work with the Commonwealth of Virginia, Fairfax County, the [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority] and [Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority] to move forward with Phase II of this crucial project.”
The federal government contributed $900 million in 2009 to the construction of the first half of the MetroRail expansion to Dulles. The project is one of largest railways in the nation that is currently under construction, despite an early push by President Obama to increase the number of rail lines in the country.
LaHood has sought to mediate previous disputes between officials in the state of Virginia and Loudoun and Fairfax counties, where the new railway will operate.
The chairwoman of the Board of Directors for the agency that operates the Metro, WMATA, praised the approval of the railway Tuesday.
"On behalf of the Metro Board of Directors, I want to congratulate Loudoun County for their historic vote today," WMATA Board Chairwoman Catherine Hudgins said in a statement.
"As the Metro Board moves forward with strategic planning efforts to support the region, we look forward to continuing to work with Loudoun County as an important partner at the table," Hudgins continued. "The Dulles extension of the Metrorail system will support growing transportation demands, putting Loudoun County and Washington Dulles International Airport on the Metro map."
The first half of the railway to Dulles is expected to open by the end of the 2013. The portion of the line that will ultimately reach and surpass Dulles to run into Loudoun County will likely be opened in 2018.