The target opening date for the highly anticipated Metrorail Silver Line into Loudoun County remains in question.

As future riders watch and wait, regional agencies and county leaders are mulling over when Metro into Ashburn will be fully operational and welcome riders. Numerous setbacks have been encountered since the project's launch, with concrete, rail ties and construction defects pushing the project back at least two years beyond its initial estimated opening date.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) will not accept control over the Silver Line extension until the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority – which is overseeing construction of the project – can resolve the outstanding issues.

Capital Rail Constructors is building the main line and stations, while Hensel Phelps is constructing the rail yard and maintenance facility.

MWAA said both contractors have missed their contract schedule completion dates.

“At this point, we do not have an agreed upon date for scheduled completion with either contractor,” Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project Communications Manager Marcia McAllister said. “The Airports Authority is focusing on the safety, durability and reliability of the system. We continue to work with all parties to meet the project goals. Both contractors know what they need to be doing. Once construction and testing are complete, we will turn it over to Metro and they will determine the opening date for the public.”

The authority anticipates “substantial completion” in April, according to construction and committee reports, but local leaders believe riders won't come on board until well beyond that.

Loudoun County Supervisor Matthew Letourneau (R-Dulles), who serves on the WMATA Board of Directors, believes the first quarter of 2021 is the most likely operational date.

He notes there is a six-month testing period when MWAA turns the project over to WMATA and that Metro needs to thoroughly review the concrete panels, which have been problematic for a major chunk of the project's construction.

“Just looking at that and the fact that there's a six-month testing period … if this gets resolved in July, you're looking at 2021," Letourneau said. “I think that's where this is heading. Hopefully the issues can be resolved.”

County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) agreed.

“While we are hopeful that Metro will arrive in 2020, it’s possible that it won’t be ready to accept riders until the first quarter of 2021 as there will need to be extensive testing to ensure safety and reliability,” Randall said. “We are clear that the most important factor is having assurance that the Silver Line will provide a safe and reliable transit option for Loudoun citizens.”

In a 2019 MWAA report, the authority indicated a schedule provided by Capital Rail Constructors could push back the operational date.

Then, in a Jan. 16 analysis, the Metro Safety and Operations Committee reported several issues have been resolved, including the aerial track girder cracking and pedestal deficiencies at the Dulles Airport Station screen wall, among others.

However, the committee identified problems with track plates and the Automatic Train Control software that remain unresolved. Panel cracks in the precast concrete wall and deficiencies in the track insulated joint are also being addressed.

As part of the multi-billion-dollar Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project’s Phase 2, Loudoun County will have three of the six new Metrorail stations connected to the Silver Line, including Ashburn, Loudoun Gateway and Dulles International stations. The upcoming stations in Fairfax include Innovation Center, Herndon and Reston Town Center.

Phase 1, which was completed in 2014, runs from East Falls Church with several stations in Tysons Corner and one at Wiehle Avenue in Reston.

Last summer, MWAA announced trains for Phase 2 began testing in Loudoun.


(21) comments

Charles Houston

The stations look like buildings in the Gulag. The architect should be should formerr supervisor Ken Reid, who's responsible for our being on the hook for this mess.


The Organized Labor talking points are such a pile a rubbish. See: The Big Dig


Very poor example, comparing metro, who had union workers that had already done successful work just like this, to what has been dubbed “America's most ambitious infrastructure project”.


In China they can build a 1000 bed hospital in 10 days. It takes us a decade to lay 23 miles of track. No wonder China is cleaning our clock.


They should have never gotten rid of the union workers that had already done the work in other areas and knew what they were doing. Thanks Bob McDonnell!


Yes but they have a government and a people who are focused on advancing China. We are hellbent on a race to the bottom. Just this week our brilliant government decided we don't need any immigrants from Nigeria or Tanzania ...countries where China is moving in and setting up clients that will pay dividends for decades..


China does not have to deal with environmental regulations, which is why they can build things so quickly. They also can quickly "modify" (read remove) entire mosques or churches that they perceive to be "dangerous" to their single-party rule. Check out the before vs. after satellite photos of mosques and cemeteries that are now just dirt fields.


China is cleaning our clocks? They has very little oversight on many fronts. They continue to have wild animal markets even though SARS and Corona viruses were linked to them. They don't just endanger themselves but the rest of the world too. This was a makeshift hospital that was constructed to treat 1 disease only, It isn't some state of the art development.

David Dickinson

The silver lining is that the developers are stuck paying the rail tax a little longer without the benefit of actually having the Metro. Small consolation.


Pun intended?


Typical USA. We are so far behind in technology and infrastructure. That, combined with our political chaos—we are not far from being a third-rate nation. How long since the rail began in Tyson’s?? Ever hear of electric ferries?


I am shocked our politicians are not delivering this project on time and under budget ... said no one EVER!


Not that I would ever step foot on this Silver Line expansion since I have no interest in sitting on an uncomfortable Metro car when I can ride in my own car, but this project had disaster written all over it from Day One. It should not be called the Silver Line, but instead the Greed Line, because it was developers and dumber than stones LoCo BOS who fought to bring this mess to Loudoun. Sure their pockets were lined, but that is about it. And to think that after flying across the country or the world that anyone with half a brain will then schlep their bags and kids on a Metro train for an hour ride into DC? Really? No one is that dumb.

More Cowbell

And all of Loudoun is on the hook for this tax cesspool. It should have stopped at Dulles. MWAA is crooked, expect Toll roads to go up to help pay. The time it takes to drive to this place, park, figure out how much to pay, get the ticket and wait..... I can already be in DC.

Thousands who ride transit from the airports in Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Boston--just to name a few--would laugh at your ignorance.


What makes you think this was the BOS? This was a state transaction.


Would you rather pay for parking for the length of your trip? You could sit in your car with the rest of traffic, use your gas and put wear and tear on your car or relax while someone else does the driving.


Just like the Boston "Big Dig", yet another government-run construction project is over budget and way behind schedule. 2021 seems optimistic. Try 2022 for regularly scheduled service.


One of these days I think people will come to realize that sub-standard construction and those politicians who demanded MWAA not require union labor are closely related. Those politicians--at least the ones that haven't already been retired by voters--are the ones who bear a real responsibility for this fiasco.


agree, money over safety is never right.


The deal McDonnell cut to get his cheaper price is a matter of public record.

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