The Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority's (WMATA) rail system grew 10 percent with five new stations and new direct rail service between the Washington D.C. region's two largest employment centers, all as a result of the opening of the Silver Line's first phase. WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Richard Sarles joined federal, state and local officials for the grand opening ceremony July 25 at Wiehle-Reston East Station.
“The Obama Administration is proud to be a partner in delivering more world-class transportation options to the Washington Metropolitan area and connecting thousands of residents and visitors with major employment, education and economic opportunities throughout the region,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The Silver Line is an excellent example of why we need to think and invest long-term to meet the rising demand for more critically important projects like this across the country.”
The Silver Line gives commuters traveling to or from Fairfax County a new option to avoid traffic congestion along I-66 and the Dulles Toll Road, while saving on fuel, parking and tolls. With the opening of the Silver Line, WMATA now serves a total of 91 stations on a 118-mile system in Virginia, Maryland and the Washington, D.C.
Construction of the first phase of Silver Line began in March 2009 and included the five new stations, 11.7 miles of track, rail yard expansion at West Falls Church and a new railcar maintenance facility. Work has already begun on phase two of the project, which will extend another 11.4 miles to six new stations including Reston Town Center, Herndon, Washington Dulles International Airport and Ashburn. The combined phases of the Silver Line make it the largest and one of the most complex transportation projects in the United States. It is also the first expansion beyond the system’s original five rail lines and the first time an extension was constructed by an entity other than WMATA.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is providing $900 million in Federal Transportation Authority Capital Investment Grant Funding and $75 million in other USDOT funds toward the $3.14-billion total project cost of the first phase of the Silver Line extension. The remaining cost is being covered by state and local funding sources.
In addition, USDOT has approved a $1.875 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan for construction of the second phase of the Silver Line extension to Loudoun County—the largest TIFIA loan in the program’s history.