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Board to decide in 2014 on Metro funding, parking garages

Loudoun's Board of Supervisors in the months ahead must decide whether to pursue a federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan to help contain costs associated with Metro's Silver Line extension into Loudoun County.

If the county moves ahead with seeking the federal dollars, it will have to include the cost of constructing parking garages in its overall share of the Silver Line project's tab.

Without the garages, Loudoun County's Metro-related expenses have been estimated at approximately $260 million to $270 million for capital costs and $10 million to $20 million in annual operational costs once the project is completed.

The proposed TIFIA loan amount is $200 million.

“[U.S. Department of Transportation], who runs the TIFIA program, reaffirmed that there is a quid pro quo with the county that if the county wants to take advantage of TIFIA financing, we need to take on the obligation for garages,” County Administrator Tim Hemstreet told the board last month.

Hemstreet said the board will need to make a decision on TIFIA funds by early next year.

Martina Williams, the county's debt manager, said a TIFIA loan would allow the county to not make interest payments during the five-year construction of the project. Moreover, it provides for repayment of principle not until five years after substantial completion of the Silver Line, Williams noted.

“Both of these deferrals really help the county in that we're able to collect revenues from the Metrorail Service Tax Districts in order to build up cash reserves. This means that we can potentially reduce the amount of money to borrow later on,” she said.

The county has received four proposals for parking garages at the two Loudoun Silver Line stations, both in Ashburn.

Submissions for the garages have come in from Comstock Partners; West Dulles Properties and Structured Parking Solutions; Nexus Properties; and Trammell Crow Co. and Antigone Co.

Hemstreet called all the plans “viable.”

Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) commented, “It's clear to me that TIFIA is the right way for us to go here. It's going to allow us to rack up substantial cash because of the deferral. It's going to allow us to issue significantly less debt to get these things done.”

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The shell game since 2011 has been Loudoun County would get three Metro parking garages built somehow, and these garage costs would thereby be removed from the official rail project books, and then Loudoun County would also pay 4.8% of that official rail project cost (about $269 million with the parking garage costs hidden).

If Loudoun County paid $168 million (the official MWAA estimate) to get the garages built, then it would pay $269 million + $168 million = $437 million in total to build the rail system.

But the $168 million garage costs were swept under a rug when this was considered in 2012.  All anyone heard about was the $269 million.  Anonymous pen name posters appeared, and told us there was no problem, because the garages would be built by contractors who were lining up and clamoring to build them for free!  Remember that?

But now we see that there really wasn’t any long line of generous contractors outside the county office door, don’t we.  And what a coincidence -  those anonymous pen name posters are all gone now too!  How about that.  And Loudoun County has tried and failed already to arrange deals to get the garages built, and now apparently they have failed again - because it was known that the financial decisions had to be made by late 2013, and here they are being postponed to 2014.

I wonder when, if ever, we will hear the truth about all of this.  Do you see now?  You were tricked.  Just as we were tricked in Fairfax County.  A few of us tried to warn you, but you wouldn’t listen.  Would you.  And now, here come the results.

I am not from Western Loudoun, but have some concerns about the silver line. Once the Ashburn station(s) get built I am a 15 MIN DRIVE to the station.  I know for a fact it is a 45 minute metro ride from WFC to Bethesda station (where I work). So it is safe to assume, It will be another 30 MINS at LEAST on the silver line from Ashburn to connect to orange line. So that is about 1 hour 45 mins commuting (including the 15 min drive to station and 10 minute walk from bethesda station to work.

I have not even got started with costs but I will take Troy’s figure of $20.75 ( very conservative for my situation probably more like $25). But to drive for me its about $12/ day (employer pays for parking and I don’t take toll rd.) and my commute on average is 1 hour (on really bad days 1 hour 15 min)

So the take away is pay $12 and drive to work in 1 hour or pay $20.75 and take metro which will take upwards of 2 hours.

No brainer. I have to side with troy and cowbell.

All of the comments on here are a riot! It seems that there are still a few vocal opponents to the Silver line. Maybe I’m just uninformed, but I don’t think that the commuting options in Loudoun are even close to being sufficient. I live in Sterling, but I take the Fairfax Connector to West Falls church from Drainsville Rd/Rt. 7 because the LC Transit buses do not run frequently enough for my commuting schedule. And I tend to agree that the Metro is a better option than bus, mainly because it goes to all of the major destinations that I care about. Yes, the rich white republican Western Loudoun residents like to call the Metro a ‘boondoggle’ but honestly, im not seeing it. This is called “PROGRESS” my friends.

I agree Troy. Can’t wait to see how they subsidze the silver line to try and get riders. Most don’t want to drive 15 minutes out of their way and then pay $20+ to ride a metro that probably doesn’t drop them off anywhere near their work. If I could, id’ take the bus. My comute takes me 30 minutes from Ashburn to Fairfax at 5am.

Based on the current fare from Vienna to Rosslyn (estimated per mile), it would be about $8 to go from Dulles/Route 28 to Rosslyn.  $4.75 a day to park at Vienna.  So you are looking at approximately $20.75 per day to take Metro to Rosslyn.  That is if you can find a parking spot.  Then you get to stop everywhere in between Dulles and Rosslyn.  Even longer of a ride if you are headed to the Pentagon or somewhere off the Orange line.  Orange line trains are packed as it is heading into Arlington.  Can’t imagine what your Silver Line train will look like once it has gone from Ashburn to Tysons picking people up. 

Meanwhile the Loudoun Commuter bus will get you to Rosslyn or the Pentagon for $14 a day, free parking and fairly “direct”.  People won’t be crammed on the bus like sardines because they can’t be. 

Hmm, I’m sure people will be falling over each other to use this new commuting option.  Chances are, if they were interested in mass transit, they’d be taking the bus already, and only a moron would pay more to use Metro instead of the bus.  Unless of course York and Co. get rid of the bus to save face on the Metro line.

Actually, according to the official Metro Rail fares website: http://www.wmata.com/fares/metrorail.cfm
the maximum off-peak charge between *ANY* two stations in the system is $3.50. $5.75 during on-peak use. I did read before that the county was thinking of implementing an additional $1 surcharge for riders using the Dulles airport station, in order to stick it to the people flying in and out of the airport, under the guise that most of these users will be out of town travelers…but I don’t know how they will do this without severly affecting the local riders. What they *CAN* do is charge exhorbitant fees for parking! But how is that exactly fair when the cost per square foot in Mclean and Vienna are both higher than that in Loudoun, and yet both of those stations only charge $4.75 per day. The vast majority of the stations only charge $4.50/day (these are mostly in the outlying suburbs) with some of the higher rent districts charging $4.75 and even $5.00/day…but these are in super expensive neighborhoods…Somehow I don’t see Loudoun qualifying for this level of compensation…And when you consider that the Leesburg Park and Ride lot is FREE, and the bus to and from WFC and Leesburg is only $4.00 round trip, it doesn’t make sense to park at the metro psrking…(WFC charges $4.75/day) So why *NOT* take the bus to the station? I surely hope that Loudoun will implement a bus service to the Reston station when it opens next year so that we can spend less time in traffic! It still remains to be seen what Reston is going to be charging for their parking lot!

I’m confused (so what else is new) but does this mean that we are now looking at a Four Hundred Seventy Million Dollars here?  If so, I hate to think what the per trip ticket price will be for the Silver Line (or should I say a “pound of flesh” line.

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