The U.S. Dept. of Transportation will allow planners to do preliminary engineering for a proposed Washington Metro rail extension in northern Virginia, whose cost is estimated at $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion.


Preliminary design would cost an estimated $45.4 million and be part of an agreement that local officials plan to sign with Dulles Transit Partners LLC, a joint venture of Bechtel Infrastructure and Washington Group International, says Rick Clawson, a spokesman for the Virginia Dept. of Rail and Public Transportation. The team would be responsible for design and construction, he says.

In announcing the decision on June 10, DOT's Federal Transit Administration cautioned that there is no guarantee that it will allow the project to advance to the final design phase. FTA Administrator Jennifer Dorn said, "This corridor has long needed a public transportation solution that will provide local residents with greater convenience and flexibility while reducing congestion."

The project is a joint effort of the Virginia rail and public transportation agency and Metro's operator, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Plans call for 25% of the funds to come from Virginia, 25% from Fairfax County, Va., and the rest from the federal government.

The 11.6-mile segment would include five stations and run from the existing West Falls Church Metro station to Reston, FTA says. The segment is phase one of an envisioned two-phase project. The second part would stretch 12 miles, from Reston into Loudoun County, with a stop at Washington Dulles International Airport.

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