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The Herndon Metro station (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

With the Silver Line Phase II opening still in flux, Fairfax County is being asked to pay another $40 million.

At its transportation committee meeting on Friday (Sept. 30), the Board of Supervisors got an update on the ramifications of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) agreeing in July to increase the budget for the Silver Line extension by $250 million.

The original project agreement calls for Fairfax County to pay about 16% of the asked-for overage, so with the quarter of a billion dollar budget increase, the county owes an additional $40.25 million.

All told, the county will have spent nearly a billion dollars — $960 million — on the second phase of the Silver Line, which will add six stations from Reston to Ashburn in Loudoun County.

In total, the project has cost just over $3 billion. The board is set to vote on the payment later this month.

While likely to approve the additional payment, several supervisors expressed frustration and annoyance with the need to throw even more dollars at a project that has been besieged by constant delays.

“I don’t think it’s a shock and it’s a tiny portion of the overall project,” Chairman Jeff McKay said. “But [the extra $40 million] has rightly angered a lot of folks given all the delays.”

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust also made clear he was not happy that the county is being asked to pay more.

“Have we asked ourselves if this is a good deal and the Airports Authority is not just…spending a lot of money to make a problem go away? And it’s our money that they are spending,” Foust asked staff.

He also asked if $960 million will be the final amount. However, county staff couldn’t guarantee that there won’t be any further costs, considering Phase 1 is still undergoing repairs after opening in 2014.

“We still have to reconcile Phase 1 and Phase 2…All parties have to be reconciled at the end of the project,” said Martha Elena Coello, head of special projects for the Fairfax County Department of Transporation. “We are still doing some work on Phase 1 and that needs to be completed. At the end, there will be a reconciliation of both those phases.”

McKay asked, seemingly rhetorically, what would happen if the county didn’t pay the extra money. Staff responded that it might become a “legal matter” since the payment is required by the signed project agreement.

“According to the funding agreement, this is not a ‘might be’ or ‘may be,'” he said. “It’s a requirement for the county. We don’t have the flexibility…without significant negative consequences.”

Still relatively new Metro General Manager Randy Clarke was given authority by the Board of Directors last month to set an opening date for the Silver Line extension. While no exact date has been announced, Clarke said safety certifications are expected this October, and Metro has updated its maps to feature the new stations.

At the same time, Clarke warned that opening the Silver Line could force service reductions due to a deficit in trains when currently shuttered Blue and Yellow Line stations south of Washington National Airport reopen.

That headache will be put off a little longer by an entirely different Metro problem. Last week, the transit agency announced that its new Potomac Yard station won’t open until 2023.¬†As a result, the Yellow and Blue stations will be closed for another two weeks, until Nov. 5.

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The Fairfax County Department of Transportation advertises the coming opening of Metro’s Silver Line extension at the Mosaic District Fall Festival (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 9:40 a.m. on 9/30/2022) Metro’s extension of the Silver Line through Herndon into Loudoun County is finally starting to look like a reality, instead of a hypothetical, albeit expensive, project.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority unveiled new maps for its rail system last Friday (Sept. 23) that featured the six new stations, among other changes. A day earlier, its general manager got the go-ahead to set an opening date, though one has yet to be announced.

Coming six years after its initial projected opening of 2016, Silver Line Phase 2 will bring the D.C. region’s subway system into Loudoun for the first time, with stops at Dulles International Airport and Ashburn. Along the way, trains will pass through Reston Town Center, Herndon, and Innovation Center in the Dulles area.

Despite frustrations with the project’s many delays, Fairfax County officials remain hopeful that the rail line’s arrival will be a boon for residents and businesses in Reston and Herndon, fueling growth akin to what Tysons has seen since the Silver Line’s first phase opened there in 2014.

Are you excited to enter the shiny new Silver Line stations, potentially as soon as next month? Or have Metro’s ongoing safety and reliability issues turned you off of the transit system for now?

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The latest map includes phase two of the Silver Line (via Metro)

Metro has officially debuted changes to its 2019 map of the rail system.

This past Friday (Sept. 23), Metrorail began rolling out the new maps — which feature the Silver Line extension and stations with new name — to its stations, trains and transit centers.

As first reported by DCist, the new map includes stations on phase two of the Silver Line: Reston Town Center, Herndon, Innovation Center, Washington Dulles International Airport, Loudoun Gateway and Ashburn.

The map also lists Potomac Yard station in Alexandria as a future station.

But it will take some time before the whole system’s maps are upgraded. The overall system has more than 5,000 maps in stations and trains alone.

“Metro is getting a head start now for what will take more than a month to replace every map in the system in preparation for opening,” the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said.

The map also includes new station names — which were approved by Metro’s Board of Directors — changing Largo Town Center to Downtown Largo, Prince George’s Plaza to Hyattsville Crossing, White Flint to North Bethesda, and Tysons Corner to Tysons. West Falls Church-VT is also the new name of the station that used to bear the University of Virginia’s name.

Here’s more from Metro on the changes:

The map’s original design was created more than 40 years ago by graphic designer Lance Wyman and was revised by Wyman for the opening of the first phase of the Silver Line and the extensions’ completion. Over the decades, millions of people have navigated Metrorail using the simple but classic map showing all six rail lines – Red, Blue, Orange, Silver, Green and Yellow – crossing the region with crisp, clean lines.

Printing has been underway for weeks, as Metro prepares for the opening of the Silver Line extension. Maps of various sizes, fare tables, and customer brochures are all being updated.

Metro has not yet decided when the Silver Line extension will officially open. But its Board of Directors took a key step last Thursday (Sept. 22) when they delegated to Metro General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke the authority to accept the project once certain conditions are met.

Right now, a fall opening is anticipated.

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A date for service to begin on the Silver Line’s second phase is likely planned for the fall (Staff photo by Jay Westcott).

After years of delays, Metro has officially passed the baton over to its general manager to set an opening date for phase two of the Silver Line.

At a board meeting today (Thursday), Metro’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a motion to have General Manager Randy Clarke set the opening date of the project.

“This is obviously a very important step and a lot is on the line,” said board chairman Paul Smedberg.

The move would set into motion the 11.4-mile project, which adds six new stations from Reston to Ashburn to the overall Silver Line.

While no actual date was announced, Clarke expects to receive safety certifications by next month. Test runs simulating service on the new line are scheduled to start in early October.

However, safety concerns that have sidelined dozens of trains since October could pose a challenge.

If efforts to restore the trains are further delayed, Clarke says it could force Metro to either reduce service when shuttered Blue Line stations reopen next month or push back the Silver Line opening, per WAMU/DCist transportation reporter Jordan Pascale.

Handed to Metro in late June, 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.

The new stations are located at Reston Town Center, Herndon, Innovation Center, Dulles International Airport, Loudoun Gateway and the terminus at Ashburn. The project also includes a new Dulles Rail Yard designed for 168 Metrorail cars.

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Phase two of the long-awaited Silver Line is likely slated for a late fall opening.

At a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board meeting today (Thursday), efforts are underway to complete safety and certification requirements, according to Theresa Impastato, WMATA’s executive vice president and chief safety officer.

But an exact date remains uncertain. Metro’s board will set the date for servicing the 11.4-mile extension into Loudoun County. It’s unlikely service will begin until late October, especially since simulated service that is expected to continue through mid-October.

“I know everyone in the community is dying to hear,” said WMATA’s CEO Randy Clarke, adding that the organization is entering the “red zone” towards announcing a date.

With nearly all hiring completed, onsite training is planned by September 11. Simulated service will take place between October 3 and 17, according to Lynn Bowersox, WMATA’s senior vice president.

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.

The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission will then approve a safety certification when the materials are submitted in the middle of October — one of the 10 conditions of acceptance of the project.

Metro’s board will then set a date for service.

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A new free shuttle service is coming to Reston Town Center (courtesy Reston Town Center Association)

A new free shuttle service is coming soon to Reston Town Center to connect the RTC Metro Station to Reston’s urban core.

LinkRTC, the new, privately-funded shuttle service managed by the Reston Town Center Association, is expected to begin operation on weekdays when the station opens in the fall. Six stops are planned for the internal shuttle, which will provide free service from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. 

RTCA Executive Director Robert Goudie said the shuttle is intended to connect the area’s residents, workforce and visitors to a network of restaurant, retail, workplaces and programming.¬†

“The town center continues to grow as a dynamic, regional destination,” Goudie wrote in a statement. “We see linkRTC as an important community amenity that will link the downtown with Metro.¬†

Reston Limousine and Travel Service, a local transportation company, will operate two 14-passenger vans that will run with 10-minute intervals between service at each stop. The company has more than 250 vehicles.

The vans are ADA-compliant and include two wheelchair-accessible seating places. Properties within RTCA that opt in will pay for the service under a cost-sharing agreement. 

As we explored this with our major property holders, it became clear that a sensible first phase would be rolling this out within the extended urban core,” Goudie told FFXnow. “Once we launch, other properties that might wish to have a stop and be a part of the funding solution can contact us about the possibility of opting in. It may be a service we can voluntarily grow over time.”

Goudie anticipates expanding the program throughout the town center in the years ahead. 

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn says the shuttle will help bolster Fairfax County’s vision of ensuring that development allows people to get to transit easy.¬†

“This supports Fairfax County’s investment in Metrorail, provides another multi-modal option to the growing Reston Town Center, and creates another alternative to single occupancy private vehicles in the heart of Reston. These are things that everyone in our community should support,” Alcorn wrote in a statement.¬†

RTCA is the governing association for RTC.

Signs will be posted at each stop. An app will also be available for riders.

The shuttle has been in the works for years. The county’s latest comprehensive plan for Reston contemplates the inclusion of a shuttle or circulator service to knit the town center with Metro.¬†

RTCA will launch the service once trains begin running at the station, possibly in October of this year, after years of delays.

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A new trail would connect to the Herndon Metro Station (via Town of Herndon)

With the opening of phase two of the Silver Line expected in October, local governments are preparing public services to connect efficiently to the new stations.

In the latest initiative, the Herndon Town Council is poised to approve a $410,000 contract to build a new trail connection to the Herndon Metro Station. The proposal is set for a vote at a council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).

The 8-foot-wide asphalt trail would run from Worldgate Drive through the existing Metro station pavilion entrance, according to the town’s Deputy Director of Public Works John Irish.

Irish noted that the project has been long in the works as part of the county’s capital improvements plan for years.

“We’ve spend years trying to get easements to construct this,” Irish said.

The project was bid out to A.P. Construction, LLC. The trail would be open to pedestrians and bicyclists. A timeline for construction and completion was not immediately available.

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Reston Town Center Metro station, still closed (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Metro officials are aiming for an October opening of the phase two of the Silver Line, a long-delayed project that appears on track to go live this fall.

At a board meeting on Thursday (July 28), Metro’s new general manager Randy Clarke cautioned that a more specific timeline can’t be disclosed because the completion of the 11.4-mile project is dependent on work by other stakeholders, including a go-ahead from the Federal Transit Administration and the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission.

He hopes to have more details to share next month.

“We obviously have some work that we have to do,” Clarke said at the meeting, adding that safety is Metro’s top priority.¬†

Metro declared operational readiness in late June. Now, a number of items need to be handled, including training employees, simulating service, running through emergency preparedness drills, rail inspections, and wayfinding measures, Clarke said. 

“We are either running safe service or the service should not run,” he said.

As part of safety certifications, the FTA and WMSC will also give Metro the green light to proceed with rail service. That work is still underway, along with a safety and security certification by Metro’s Chief Security Officer.

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.

At the meeting, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn pressed Clarke for more details on the opening date. He emphasized that phase two must clear additional hurdles — including a go-ahead from the WMSC, which did not exist when the first phase opened.

“I don’t know if a lot of people recognize that,” Alcorn said, adding that residents and businesses are eager for rail service to begin soon.

Clarke said that Metro believes it is at “the confidence level” that all remaining work needed for safety certification will be completed by October.

“It’s important work,” he said. “…The team is incredibly focused on getting there.”¬†

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Morning Notes

A plane at Dulles International Airport, visible from Chantilly (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Man Arrested for Fairfax Church Thefts¬†— “On June 28, our officers responded to the Saint Mary’s of Sorrows Catholic Church in Fairfax for a man who stole a purse from a car in the parking lot. The man used stolen credit cards from the purse at several stores nearby. On July 4, the same suspect returned to the church and stole from two donation boxes. At least one stolen check was cashed from donation box.” [FCPD]

Covid Cases Close Reston Pools — “RA is currently experiencing a lifeguard shortage due an uptick in Aquatics staff testing positive for Covid-19. As a result, the Ridge Heights and Upland pools will be closed for the next five days (Friday through Tuesday).” [Reston Association/Twitter]

Silver Line Delays Not Justified, McKay Says — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay says any further delays of Metro’s Silver Line Phase 2 project “will be met with a lot of discontent.” He’s hopeful the rail extension will open this fall but wants to be certain that a $250 million budget increase approved earlier this week will be the last needed payment. [WTOP]

Vienna Lodge Seeks Funds for Repairs — “Vienna Moose Lodge, a fraternal organization that does community service work, launched a Save the Lodge fundraising campaign this week to help remain open and continue its mission…One of the major repairs needed is a new HVAC system in the banquet hall that will cost $35,000.” [Patch]

Ribbon Cut on Reston Affordable Senior Housing — “It was warm this morning but still a great turnout for the ribbon cutting for Hunters Woods Fellowship House! Much needed $26 million renovations provide modern & safer home for many older residents.” [Walter Alcorn/Twitter]

Herndon Company Expands HQ¬†— The defense and intelligence contractor Expedition Technology has signed a lease amendment for its corporate headquarters offices “that will support its current and anticipated growth.” Lasting through June 2033, the new agreement doubles its office space from approximately 32,000 to more than 64,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 170 workers. [CityBiz]

GMU Joins Gun Violence Research Effort — “Fifteen members of a consortium of local schools will pool their resources, researchers and faculty experts in areas including maternal and child health, public policy, mental health, criminology and technology, officials said. The goal is to provide lawmakers and the public with steps they can take to drive down gun violence.” [The Washington Post]

Good Pups Visit McLean Nursing Home — “Fairfax County senior residents are getting some furry visitors at their nursing homes thanks to a group of volunteers at Pets on Wheels…The non-profit is run by volunteers that say pets can be therapeutic for senior citizens.” [ABC7]

Cool Off With Dolley Madison Library — “#Fairfax teens can beat the heat Saturday at our Dolley Madison branch. We will meet at the library before heading to McLean Central Park for a sponge war! Sponges provided. Wear clothes that can get wet (minimum shorts & shirts required).” [Fairfax County Public Library/Twitter]

Cirque du Soleil Makes Tysons Return Next Week — “Cirque du Soleil has become the gold standard of 21st century circus productions…The global brand brings ‘KURIOS: Cabinet of Curiosities’ to the Under the Big Top tent at Lerner Town Square in Tysons, Virginia from July 29 to Aug. 27.” [WTOP]

It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:03 am and sunset at 8:30 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The Reston Town Center Metro station, waiting to open (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The long-delayed extension of the Silver Line into Loudoun County will cost $250 million more than first anticipated — a cost that will largely be shouldered by Dulles Toll Road users.

At a meeting yesterday (Wednesday), the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board approved the cost overrun — including $188 million through tolls on the Dulles Toll Road.

The increase was driven by an increase in the complexity of the project, costs for materials, supply chain issues, and COVID-19-related issues, according to Andrew Rountree, MWAA’s chief financial officer.

Rountree also pointed to the project’s complexity at all levels, new environmental regulations related to stormwater management, and changes in the overall scope.

The cost overrun pushes the budget from $2.79 billion to a little over $3 billion.

Still, Rountree says the increase will not affect tolls directly, which are already expected to go up this year, because MWAA was able to restructure a loan to “flatten out” debt service from 2033 to about 2044.

Fairfax County will pay $40 million, Loudoun County will offer $12 million, and MWAA will recover $10 million.

Drew Hascall, vice president of MWAA’s Office of Engineering, said many of the cost increases are expected given that the project is four years behind schedule.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve resolved all those unresolved requests or changes and we’re closing it out,” Hascall said, adding that contract closeout is expected once the additional funding is obtained.

Metro — which assumed control over the rail extension in late June — still hasn’t set an opening date for the 11.4-mile extension of the Silver Line into Loudoun County, but a fall opening is anticipated.

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