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Silver Line falls 30 percent short of projected ridership; lawmakers remain optimistic

One year in, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's Silver Line is 30 percent short of projected ridership, the Associated Press is reporting.

At the onset of the Silver Line endeavor, officials with WMATA (Metro) projected approximately 50,000 weekday trips on average, but the system is currently seeing just 35,000 trips, according to the AP.

The nearly $6 billion Silver Line project, which was split into two phases, is expected to bring Metro service to the Dulles airport and into Loudoun County by 2019. The Metro expansion is one of the largest and most complex infrastructure projects in the nation.

The first phase, running through Tyson's Corner and into Reston, was completed one year ago. Regional leaders celebrated the new line's birthday Monday, unfazed by the ridership figures.

“Phase 1 of the Silver Line has exceeded expectations not only in terms of ridership, but also in terms of the economic opportunities it is creating in the Dulles Corridor and across the region," said U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat from Northern Virginia. "Completion of Phase 2 will accelerate the transformation taking place along the corridor and provide a vital rail link to Dulles International Airport for the entire region. For those of us who have worked on this project for more than two decades, it is exciting to see the vision we laid out taking shape."

U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R), who voted against the 2013 Virginia transportation funding plan that sent roughly $300 million to the Silver Line, praised the project for strengthening the region's economy.

“The economic development and impact the Silver Line has created and will continue to create is a boost to the economy for our entire region,” Comstock said in a statement.

According to WMATA, more than 105 million square feet of new development "is in the construction pipeline within a half-mile of a Silver Line Metrorail station," including 20 development projects underway.

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