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Review deems Silver Line tunnel safe

An independent engineering review of the tunnel that will carry Silver Line trains under a major Tysons Corner intersection found that no additional repairs are needed.

The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority work collaboratively with its contractor to initiate the review after it was noted that a portion of the tunnel settled by about 1 inch following construction.

The tunnel carries the Silver Line tracks under the intersection of Route 123 and Route 7 in Tysons Corner.

“It appears that no repairs will be needed,” said MWAA President and CEO Jack Potter. There was concern that the settling, which is normal, could have narrowed the tunnel. However, Potter said, the review showed that the tunnel dimensions remain within acceptable limits for safety.

MWAA and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority are continuing to review the independent report “just to assure ourselves” that the review team didn’t overlook anything, Potter said.

The update on the tunnel was presented to the MWAA Board of Directors at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

At the meeting, the board also signed off on an overhaul of the agency’s contracting manual, the latest in a series of steps MWAA has taken to address concerns about ethics and oversight within the organization.

The new contracting manual “streamlines and clarifies a complex set of regulations,” said MWAA board Chairman Michael Curto.

The procurement changes eliminate “categorical exceptions” — procurement categories that didn’t require competitive bidding — and require a higher level of justification for the use of sole-source contracts. For example, a contract to purchase specialized equipment only made by one manufacturer would not have to be competitively bid.

The new procurement process also increases transparency and oversight with more extensive reporting of contracts to the MWAA board.

“You will see much more information than you ever have,” Chief Financial Officer Andy Rountree told the board.

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Is that what the 150 million dollar slush fund bought? I hope Jack Potter and company are the first to ride across the bridge.

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