The “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” aka the “stimulus,” paid dividends for northern Virginia last week when the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced it had awarded $77.5 million in funding for Rail to Dulles.
The move will result in $15 million in savings in the overall project’s cost. The earlier money is received for the project, the more that can saved in financing costs.
Back in April, Rep. Gerry Connolly and I sent a letter to the Transportation Secretary requesting that DOT accelerate the payout of already-committed funds for Dulles Rail in order to save on financing costs. We urged DOT to make a strategic infusion of funds from the Recovery Act for Dulles Rail to save money on Phase 1 of the project, bolster the economy, advance preliminary engineering on Phase 2, and create additional jobs sooner rather than later.
While this funding does not increase the federal commitment to Dulles Rail, the expedited funds will allow the project manager, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), to save on financing costs. This foresight is in part a reflection of Transportation Secretary LaHood’s leadership and the administration’s vision for improving public transit.
Additional infusions of early dollars from the Recovery Act’s DOT New Starts funding or the Secretary’s discretional funds could end up saving as much as $750 million in financing costs for the project.
Overall, DOT awarded $742.5 million in Recovery Act funds to pay for public transportation projects in nine states: Virginia; New York; Arizona; California; Colorado; Oregon; Texas; Utah; and Washington state.
In addition to transit funding in the stimulus, consideration of the national transportation reauthorization bill is set to occur this year. This legislation is brought before Congress every six years, providing an opportunity to refocus national transit priorities and giving Members an opportunity to secure vital transportation projects for their districts. For Falls Church, I am requesting a number of projects including $2.5 million to study putting a light rail system in along Route 7 that would connect with Metro stops in the City and $2 million to improve South Washington Street. I will keep readers posted on any developments related to this legislation as it moves closer to being considered on the House floor later this summer.