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The cold and rain didn’t dampen enthusiasm for the opening of Metro’s long-awaited, $3 billion Silver Line Phase II.

Yesterday marked the much-anticipated public opening of the 11.4-mile extension of the rail line from Reston into Loudoun County. Along with six new stations, this marks the first time that locals can take a train to Dulles International Airport.

Over multiple ribbon-cutting ceremonies throughout the chilly, wet November day, local officials touted the debut of the line as a “game-changer” and a “new era” for western Fairfax County and the D.C. region as a whole.

“It really is the establishment of a new identity for the Dulles corridor,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said at the new Reston Town Center station. “Now, what we’re going to see is the Dulles corridor tied together with transit in a way that was really never anticipated…We are in a new era.”

Riders, too, recognized what this could mean for the region and their daily travel.

“It’s going to change my life,” Raj Paradaar told FFXnow while riding the extension’s first passenger-filled train heading westbound. He lives in Ashburn and works near the Reston Town Center station, so he plans to ride the Metro most days.

Inside the Innovation Center station, commuters came and went, including a United Airlines flight attendant headed to work at Dulles. He lives in an apartment building across the street from the new station, along with a number of other flight attendants, FFXnow was told.

“That’s where we live,” the United Airlines flight attendant said pointing outside. “And that’s where we work…Honestly, taking a train is just much easier.”

Other riders said the extension won’t significantly affect their day-to-day habits, but they agreed it will make getting to the airport simpler.

Franconia resident Terry Rice, clutching luggage, happened to have a trip to Italy scheduled on the extension’s opening day. While planning, she realized that Dulles Airport was now only a train ride away.

“It may not change my life, but it’s going to make my life much easier,” Rice said.

During yesterday’s ceremonies, officials tried to make clear that the Silver Line extension’s impact is anticipated to go beyond simply being a link to the airport, reiterating a message that many have been saying for years.

“We have within our grasp…the ability to completely reinvent, reimagine [this corridor] as mixed-use development, as transit-oriented development, as environmentally friendly, as improving quality of life, as reducing carbon emissions, and as restoring choices for people who live in Northern Virginia,” said newly reelected Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11) at a ceremony outside of the Innovation Center station. Read More

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