From Alec MacGillis at the Washington Post:
Every few weeks, it seems, bring another argument in favor of building a 23-mile Metrorail extension from the East Falls Church station to Dulles International Airport underground through Tysons Corner instead of on an elevated track.Right. As you can tell from this picture, an elevated structure is very, er, friendly.
And yet the $4 billion project marches toward the construction of a raised structure that would slice across Tysons on a track as high as 70 feet, complicating Fairfax County's efforts to create a walkable downtown.
Michelle Zimmermann at The Fairfax County Times reports there's still time to go underground:
Virginia has until May or June 2008 to submit its plans - either tunnel or aerial - for the Dulles Metrorail project to the Federal Transit Administration before federal dollars would be truly jeopardized, officials said Tuesday.And let us not let cost be a driving argument as a Spanish firm has submitted a proposal to build the tunnel using proven cutting-edge technology for less than the aerial proposal.
Despite claims by Virginia government officials that federal funds would evaporate by not having project plans completed by this spring, that is not the case, said FTA Administrator James Simpson, because no money is firmly dedicated to begin with.
There is no $900 million of federal funds in a "lock box" reserve, as has previously been reported, Simpson said. Further, the money will not be guaranteed until the project has gone through the final review process at the federal level and passes muster.
The May 2008 deadline is the latest the FTA can consider and approve a plan before the end of the 2008 fiscal year, when the transportation funding cycle begins anew.
But, Northern Virginia probably wants to look like Miami; pretty, isn't it?