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Delayed rail cars add to Dulles project woes

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Local,Virginia,Transportation,Liz Essley
The 64 rail cars needed for Metro's Silver Line to Washington Dulles International Airport are already running late.

At a time when the first phase of the Dulles Metro rail project may be six months behind schedule -- possibly delaying its opening until mid-2014 -- Metro is facing additional delays in securing the train cars it needs to accommodate the new line.

The cars had already endured several funding holdups before the March tsunami and earthquake devastated Japan, putting Kawasaki, the company developing the cars, behind schedule.

Dulles Metro Phase 1
Location: From East Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue in Reston, with four stops in Tysons Corner
Cost: $2.7 billion
Start date: March 12, 2009
Opening due: Late 2013
Work done: 47 percent
Who's paying: Dulles toll road users, $1.2 billion; Tysons Corner landowners, $400 million; federal government, $975 million; Virginia, $176 million.
A Short history of Dulles Metro rail
1962 D.C. transit study proposes monorail in Dulles corridor.
1984 Virginia opens the Dulles Toll Road.
1992 Virginia transportation officials adopt plan to build rail to Dulles by 2005.
1998 Department of Transportation creates the Dulles Corridor Task Force.
1999 Developers propose taking the rail line through Tysons Corner.
2000 Environmental review starts.
2002 Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and Fairfax and Loudoun counties agree to split 25 percent of the costs.
2006-2008 Officials debate whether to put the Tysons stations above or below ground. They decide above.
2007 Federal authorities say the project's cost have grown too high to qualify for federal funding.
2008 Advocates for the project speak out, and federal authorities reverse position on funding.
2009 The federal government agrees to contribute $900 million to Phase 1; construction begins.
2011 Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called in to break a stalemate over financing Phase 2; negotiations ongoing.

The new delivery schedule has the cars arriving in Washington sometime between January 2013 and January 2015, according to a Fairfax County audit of the Dulles Metro rail project.

Metro officials said they could use existing cars to accommodate the additional rail line until the new cars arrive. Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority would provide cars on the Silver Line's opening day, no matter what.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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