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After decades of planning, Silver Line Phase II officially opens

The Dulles International Airport Metro station platform (via WMATA/Facebook)

(Updated at 2 p.m.) It’s official: after years of rising costs and an ever-lengthening construction timeline, the second phase of Metro’s Silver Line has opened to the public.

A train pulled out of the new Dulles International Airport station for the first time shortly after noon following a celebration this morning, where local, state and regional leaders gathered to mark the opening of the 11.4-mile extension of the rail line into Loudoun County.

If everything went according to schedule, an express Silver Line train departed from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station at 1:15 p.m., carrying winning “Silver Ticket” holders straight to Ashburn. The first passenger train from Ashburn to Downtown Largo will leave a little before 2 p.m., making all stops along the way.

At this morning’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, which started at 10:30 p.m. at the Dulles station, Rep. Don Beyer said the extension would usher a “once in a generation community infrastructure paradigm shift.”

Metro Board of Directors Chair Paul Smedberg lauded regional and local leaders for coming together to make what was a decades-log planning dream a reality.

“Today represents the best of what transit can do it,” Smedberg said.

Sen. Mark Warner said that the opening is the culmination of years of bi-partisan planning for decades.

“Every one of these speakers are going to come with partially silver hair at this point,” Warner said.

Others characterized the opening as an opening of new opportunities and possibilities.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11) said that the project will produce an “incalculable return on investment” despite cost overruns and delays.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who noted that today also marks the 60th anniversary of the airport, said she was confident that the Silver Line will offer a “comeback from Covid.”

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Board Chairman Jeff McKay said the extension provides a much-needed investment for the local economy, noting that the county is a significant economic engine for the commonwealth overall.

The long-anticipated project, which cost upwards of $3 billion, brings six new Metro stations to Virginia and activates the Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County with Metrorail service.

“This is the result of what many people before us have done,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

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