WASHINGTON — Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine submitted a detailed report to Transportation Secretary Mary Peters rebutting the Federal Transit Administration’s concerns over the state’s plan to build the first phase of an estimated $5.1 billion, 23-mile rail extension to Dulles International Airport.
Kaine’s report comes after the FTA said earlier this month that the cost of the project would not meet the cost/benefit requirements for federal funding. Project sponsors have been counting on the agency to provide $900 million for the first phase.
The report includes documentation of $242 million of cuts the projects sponsors made to the first phase, which bring it within the federal cost-effectiveness standard, Kaine said in a Feb. 1 letter accompanying the report.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is overseeing the project and had planned to issue about $2 billion of bonds to help finance the project. The bonds would be backed by tolls from the Dulles toll road. FTA had suggested the toll revenue estimates are unrealistic. But Kaine submitted the results of a sensitivity analysis showing the tolls would be sufficient to finance phase one.
Kaine told the FTA he wants to work with it to satisfactorily address all of its concerns. He noted that the FTA’s problems with the project came as a surprise because members of the state’s Congressional delegation had been told that the cost was the only concern.