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BREAKING: Metro takes control of Silver Line Phase 2

The future Reston Town Center Metro station (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Metro has reached a major milestone with its Silver Line Phase 2 project.

The 11.4-mile rail extension from Reston into Loudoun County has achieved its “operational readiness date” and was formally handed over to Metro at 6 a.m. today (Thursday), interim Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority General Manager and CEO Andy Off announced during a board of directors meeting.

Off noted that Metro hasn’t technically accepted the project, as a number of steps remain to get it ready for passenger service. However, WMATA is now responsible for the rail line’s infrastructure and will start testing and training employees to familiarize them with the new facilities.

“This milestone enables our team to test the tracks and systems, train and familiarize our workforce on yard operations, mainline and stations and ensure that we provide safe and reliable service for customers on the extension,” Off said in a news release. “We look forward to opening the new stations soon and delivering high quality rail connections to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County.”

The second phase of the Silver Line has been in the works under the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for almost a decade now, encountering numerous delays that have frustrated local residents, business owners, and elected officials.

Metro and Fairfax County transportation officials had suggested earlier this month that MWAA was finally almost ready to hand over the project, which will add six stations to the Silver Line from Reston Town Center to Ashburn.

The timeline for opening the new stations is still unclear. Off said it will take “a considerable amount of time” to train the 350 employees working at the new, 90-acre Dulles Airport rail yard facility, but the board of directors will be updated next month, and a launch date will be announced as the schedule gets refined.

“It is a major milestone, and we’re excited to get to this point finally,” said Matt Letourneau, a Virginia representative on the WMATA board.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who chairs the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ transportation committee, expressed relief at the “long-awaited” news.

“Years of investment in infrastructure, development and economic opportunities will soon pay off for residents and businesses in Fairfax County and our neighboring jurisdictions,” Alcorn said in a statement. “We’re all looking forwarding to WMATA’s announcement of when we can open the gates to riders and get these trains rolling!”

Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine also released a joint statement on the announcement with their counterparts from Maryland, Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen:

Today’s news takes us one big step closer to our shared goal of ensuring that our transportation infrastructure is reliable, convenient, and capable of keeping up with the National Capital Region’s growth. We welcome this development and encourage WMATA to safely and expeditiously put the finishing touches on this project so the Silver Line can fully open for customer service.

The first phase of the Silver Line, which runs through Tysons to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, opened in 2014.

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