After a Tuesday morning briefing on the delays in opening Metro’s Silver Line, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) pronounced himself “satisfied” with safety and financial issues.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), which is building the rail extension, will decide by Thursday whether to accept the project as finished.
When asked by reporters why he wanted the briefing, Gov. McAuliffe replied, “We’re about seven months delayed. I understand [that] things happen on a project of this scale, this magnitude. But I wanted to know why. I think it’s important. And I think [if] you’ve learned anything in the last 100 days, I want to get in the middle of these projects. I want to know how we’re spending our money. I want to know what’s going on.”
After the governor’s hour-and-fifteen-minute meeting with managers, engineers, and attorneys, McAuliffe pronounced himself “satisfied” and “comfortable” with their answers.
The construction consortium thinks Phase 1 of the Silver Line is done. Airport managers say they will announce Thursday whether they agree.
“We’re still working through the details,” explained Jack Potter, the CEO of the Airports Authority. “We want to make sure that the rail is 100 percent safe and ready for WMATA to take it over.
We asked, “What area are you looking at that you can’t say yes?
“Well, we have been looking at the test results from the train control system," Potter said. "And we’re looking at punch-list items. So, it’s matter of just dotting I’s and crossing T’s at this point.”
As we have reported earlier, the MWAA has given up on a communications system along the new Silver Line, and will replace all the circuit boards in Remote Terminal Units. The Airports Authority will pay Metro the cost of stationing human overseers along the Silver Line until the circuit boards are replaced. That project could take a year.
Phase 2 will bring the rail system to Dulles International Airport. The MWAA will build that portion also. Gov. McAuliffe hopes the Authority will make some changes in the construction contracts.
“Obviously,” said the governor. “When you build a project of this scale, you’re a better negotiator the second time around than you were the first time. I understand that. You’re tougher on the contract negotiations; take less risk for the project. More risk goes on to the contractor. And, as governor, [I think] that’s a smart thing to do, and I appreciate it.”
So, a yes/no decision on accepting Phase 1 is scheduled for Thursday.
Metro then gets to decide on “readiness” and has up to 90 days to make safety checks.
It is possible the five new Silver Line stations could be open for passenger use early in the summer.