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Deal Reached On Dulles Rail Funding

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Metro trains arrive at the Gallery Pl - Chinatown Station October 27, 2010 in Washington, DC.

Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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McLEAN, Va. (AP) — Federal, state and local officials have reached a deal on how to fund the final, nearly $3 billion phase of the project to extend Metrorail to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County.

The deal, announced Friday, includes a $150 million commitment in state funds from Virginia and federal loan assistance through the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“This is a huge win for the Washington metropolitan region,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “This project will create thousands of good paying jobs, bolster the economy, and relieve traffic congestion in northern Virginia.”

Construction has already begun on the first phase of what will be known as the Silver Line, with Phase One extending Metro from Falls Church through Tysons Corner to Reston. But there had been no agreement on who would pay for the final stretch.

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York said the agreement, hammered out Thursday, was made possible by the commitments of state and federal funding to supplement the pledges that had already been made by Fairfax and Loudoun counties and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is managing the project.

The federal component comes from the availability of low-interest loan financing. Without that, the interest rates on the latter years of the project financing would have approached junk-bond status, York said.

Future increases in tolls on the Dulles Toll Road will help pay for the project. While tolls are sure to go up, the exact amount of the increases are not known.

York said projected increases will be calculated next month, but the deal puts measures in place to help keep those rates in check. The measures include slashing nearly $1 billion from the project by agreeing to build the station at Dulles Airport above ground rather than below, shrinking the size of some rail yards, and pursuing public-private partnerships to build parking garages at the Metro stations.

York said the total estimated cost of Phase Two now stands at about $2.9 billion.

A spokesman for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

The deal still must be approved by state and county governments.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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