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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Eagle

Metrorail plans expansion

Future AU students may find it easier to fly out of Dulles International Airport, if final approval is granted and funding is secured for an extension of the Metro rail system.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, in cooperation with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, is undertaking the construction of a 23-mile transit system that would extend service beyond the airport, into Loudoun County, Va., according to a Metro press release.

The new line would connect to the Orange Line in between the current East Falls Church and West Falls Church stops.

"That would be really nice," AU freshman Anna Gering said. "It would give us students a lot more options when looking for flights home."

The project will enhance the transportation infrastructure while maintaining economic competitiveness of the D.C. area, according to Karen Rae, director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation in Virginia.

The extension would include 11 new Metro stops, all of which will follow a new design, as seen with the New York Avenue station, which is currently under construction.

The estimated cost of the project is $3.29 billion and will be shared by the state of Virginia, the Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

Because of the significant cost, the construction will be done in two phases. The first phase, to be completed by 2009, will be the first 11.6 miles from the existing Orange Line into Reston, Va., Rae said. This will include the construction of five stations.

The second phase, to be completed by 2015, will complete the line, adding six more stations and a rail yard on the Dulles Airport property, Rae said.

It is estimated the line will service 86,900 riders on an average weekday, according to the Dulles Corridor Rapid Transit Project Web site. When in place, the estimated commute from Metro Center station to the Dulles Airport Metro station will be 50 minutes.

The WMATA expects the connection to Dulles International Airport to increase ridership significantly, as Reagan National Airport, which already has a Metro stop, has one of the highest shares of passengers arriving by rail, according to the press release.

The project will also improve homeland security by providing access to Dulles, should conditions warrant the closure of Reagan National Airport, according to the press release.

The final decision on whether this line is built or not will come next spring. If the plan is approved, construction will begin in fall 2005. Further environmental impact studies, engineering plan revisions, and land acquisitions are required before construction can begin, according to the project Web site.

For now, it's a trade-off for AU students when considering which airport to fly out of. While Reagan National is easily accessible, students may be able to find better deals flying out of Dulles or even Baltimore-Washington International.

"I'd much rather just hop on the Metro than have to figure out a bus or taxi," freshman Bob Bailey said. "It's just easier to take the Metro." Even though the airport may not have Metro access now, students flying out of Dulles over fall break may contact the American University Transportation Organization at x2886 for rides to the airport. There is a charge for gas.

Section 202 host Gabrielle and friends go over some sports that aren’t in the sports media spotlight often, and review some sports based on their difficulty to play. 

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