DC Metro extension to Dulles airport delayed until 2019

DC Metro extension to Dulles airport delayed until 2019
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The extension of Washington, D.C. Metrorail subway system to Dulles International Airport has been delayed until late 2019. 

The agency that operates Dulles Airport, which is building the capital area subway extension, announced Monday that the expected completion date of the project has been pushed back to late 2019 at the earliest.  

“More than 150 modifications have been made and integrated into the design for Phase 2,” the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said of the extension, which had originally been expected to be completed in 2018. 

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“Many of these modifications parallel design changes made in the latter stages of Phase 1 and will enhance the safety and reliability of Phase 2,” the airport authority continued.  “The modifications, when combined with associated weather and construction delays, have extended the Phase 2 construction schedule by about 13 months.” 

The DC airport authority is overseeing construction of the new line and will turn it over to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which runs the Metro, for daily operations after it is completed. 

The Metro extension to Dulles, which is eventually going to be a part of the agency’s Silver Line that opened last year, is one of the largest public transportation projects under construction in the United States and it is being financed in part with $1.9 billion in federal loans. 

The line is intended to connect Dulles Airport with trains that currently run from Reston, Va. through downtown Washington, D.C. 

Lawmakers who represent areas in northern Virginia in Congress said the delay that was announced on Monday is disappointing, but understandable. 

"While today’s news from MWAA is disappointing, nevertheless this project continues forward," Rep. Gerry Connelly (D-Va.) said in a statement.

"The construction delays on Phase II are primarily the result of a brutal winter and necessary safety-related design changes. While we all want to see the Silver Line completed as soon as possible, it’s more important to get it right and make safety our top priority," continued Connelly, who has been a big supporter of the project.

The first phase of the Silver Line, which includes 11.5 miles of tracks through Tysons Corner to Reston in Virginia, brought Metro about halfway to Dulles Airport. The first face of the Silver Line also faced multiple delays before it opened in July 2014. 

The loan that was issued by the Federal Transit Administration to help pay for the second phase of the Silver Line is the largest ever awarded under the DOT's popular Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program, which allows states to compete for funding for local projects that can be leveraged to win money from other sources. 

-This story was updated with new information at 5:56 p.m.