At the Dulles Rail Advisory Board’s March 10 2 p.m. public meeting for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, Fairfax County staff did not provide a date for the opening of Phase 2 of the Silver Line Extension. from Metro. Martha Coello, chief of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s Special Products Division, said during her presentation to the Dulles Railroad Advisory Board that operational readiness testing has not yet been completed. “There is no fixed duration for this period,” Coello said.
Coello made a similar presentation to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Transportation Committee earlier in March. Committee Chairman Supervisor Walter Alcorn (D-Hunter Mill) posed the following question to Coello: “Do your best to give me a range of possibilities. When will Phase 2 open?”
“It’s a billion dollar question at this point,” Coello said. “We think the start of summer is a good time to start thinking about how certain activities relate to opening,” she said.
The long-delayed project’s opening date will remain on hold until two project deliverables are completed, Coello said March 10. First, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority must complete operational testing and simulated service. Second, the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority and the contractor must complete checklists.
The opening date is dependent on the completion of operational testing by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. “Once this is done and deemed adequate by WMATA, they will declare operational readiness,” she said.
Coello said the announcement would be a key milestone for the project as it marks the transition of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project from contractor control of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to control of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
“On a positive note, we have entered into discussions with WMATA about opening day activities,” Coello said.
The Dulles Corridor Metrorail project is off schedule, but on budget. “The Phase 1 budget remains unchanged at $2.98 billion,” Coello said.
Repairs to the shoulder on the Dulles Connector Road and “remaining structural repairs to the manholes in the shoulder area of the Dulles Corridor” remain on the to-do list. According to Coello, the work should be completed this year.
Current project expenditures for Phase 2 are $2.551 billion, with a contingency fund of $134 million. Coello said the total contingency was $551.5 million. Phase 2 is 100% complete. Lot A, stations, systems and track reached “substantial completion” on November 4, 2021. Lot B, which includes the rail yard, was reported as substantially complete on December 1, 2021.
Coello provided updated information on testing activities for Packages A and B as of March 10, 2022. She said progress has been made on each of those fronts. For package A, channels, stations and systems, 81% of the tests have been completed, with 73% of its points list completed. Lot B, the rail yard, is 78% complete, with a 95% completion rate on the checklist.
Coello said a parallel process, safety and security certification, is also underway. Before operating, the system must pass through an independent organization, the Washington Metro Rail Safety Commission, to confirm that it complies with all applicable safety regulations. Additional items may be added to the checklist as testing progresses. Coello provided an example of how one issue, heater ribbon mismatch, remains unresolved. “They brought in the manufacturer and they provided a necessary report to try to fix the problem,” she said.
WMATA actively recruits and trains new employees to meet its monthly goals. They were to recruit 400 people in February. “They’ve hired 420. It’s also very important to make the system work once it’s open,” Coello said.
Moving on to Fairfax County operations, the garages at Herndon Station and Innovation Center Station are complete. However, according to Coello, “some” warranty work is underway at Innovation, and the items are nearing completion.
Other activities required by the time the Silver Line extension opens begin with the maintenance and operations agreement. It defines the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders, including the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. According to Coello, the deal will need to go to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors since the county has certain ownership and maintenance obligations at the Kiss and Ride stations.
The final item Coello discussed was Silver Line’s Phase 2 bus service plan. It was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on February 22, 2022, and will complement new subway service. “We are working on the next steps for this, including working with our contractor and our awareness campaign, so we are excited to start offering much more bus route information,” she said. There will be a lot of public comment on the bus network, so it will be ready to go when Silver operations begin.
The Phase 2 Reston/Herndon Extension begins at the Wiehle-Reston East Terminal, in operation since 2014. The expansion continues with three stops in the middle of the Dulles Toll Road and Dulles Access Highway. Reston Town Center Station is located adjacent to Reston Town Centre. There is no designated parking at this station. Herndon-Monroe station is located at the intersection of the toll road with Herndon Parkway. A car park is located within walking distance of this station. A new garage with approximately 2,000 parking spaces was built to the east of the current park and ride. The Innovation Center station is located near the intersection of Route 28 of the toll road. This station is equipped with a dedicated car park.