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The Silver Line is an extension of the Washington Metro subway system consisting of 29 subway stations from Route 772 in Loudoun County to Largo Town Center in Prince George's County, Maryland. The line will have stations in Loudoun, Fairfax, and Arlington counties in Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Eighteen stations will be shared with the Orange Line, including all thirteen shared between the Orange and Blue Lines from Rosslyn to Stadium-Armory.

All of the construction will be in Virginia, since the section in the District of Columbia, shared with the Orange and Blue lines, is already built.

The primary goal of the Silver Line is to link the District of Columbia by rail to Dulles International Airport and the edge cities of Tysons Corner, Reston and Herndon.


The federal government – which, before Congress created the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, owned and operated Dulles Airport – built the Dulles Access Road in the 1960s to connect the airport to Washington by way of Interstate 66. The government opted, as the access road was built, to reserve the median of the road for some form of rail transit.[1]

Local residents and officials had talked of a Metro extension to Dulles since the Washington Metro began service in 1976, but a significant plan only developed in 2000. The Dulles Corridor Rapid Transit Project "scoping" process began in April 2000 with a series of meetings with local and federal officials, designed to collect the necessary authorities for the project. Local and federal law required extensive analysis of alternatives -- the two most likely being bus lanes or inaction -- and of the environmental impact. The rail-only line won over the other alternatives. Initial environmental hearings, which closed on August 28, 2002, were positive. The project received formal approval on June 10, 2004. Although construction was set to begin in 2005, delays in funding have pushed back the start date for construction to late 2007.

The extension will run in its own right-of-way on a route similar to that of the Dulles Access Road, running above ground at grade. The only significant diversions from the access road route are for the stops in Tysons Corner and at Dulles International Airport, where the Metro will alternate between subway and elevated track to maintain the exclusive right-of-way.

Service on the Silver Line is expected to begin in 2012[2] between Wiehle Avenue and Stadium-Armory, with five new stations being added to the existing network west of East Falls Church. The full line to Route 772, including a station at Dulles International Airport, is expected to be completed in 2015.[2] There will also be a provision made for a future in-fill station at Wolf Trap, between Wiehle Avenue and Tysons West.

Tunnel controversyEdit

The method of construction through the Tysons Corner area generated much debate. In the end, however, plans were made to build the extension above ground. Early plans called for a tunnel running from before Tysons East to beyond Tysons West with all four stations in between being below ground. When the contractor hired to design the Silver Line, a consortium of Bechtel and Washington Group International, found the costs to be too high the design was changed to use a short tunnel between Tysons 123 and Tysons 7 stations with all four stations being at or above ground.[3] In March 2006 the contractor was ordered to examine an alternative tunnel digging technique with the potential to lower costs. The contractor found that there would not be a significant cost reduction and proposed staying with the longer tunnel option.[4] In April 2006 the long tunnel concept was revived after allegations that the design contractor had inflated costs for the tunnel in order to avoid sharing the job with an outside tunneling contractor. The allegations led to calls for an outside cost estimate to determine more realistic tunnel costs.[5]

On May 15, 2006, Virginia Transportation Secretary Pierce R. Homer announced the creation of an advisory panel headed by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The panel had about two months to evaluate options for completing the line through Tysons Corner[6], with the results presented to the state on July 27, 2006[7] and published on July 31, 2006.[8] On September 6, 2006, however, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine announced that the Silver Line would be built above ground. In his statement, Kaine cited fear of losing federal assistance for the project.[2]

The tunnel controversy is not over. Multiple meetings and advertisements suggest that the tunnel option is not dead.[9]

List of planned stations, west to eastEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Dulles Metrorail History. Accessed on August 12, 2006.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Alec MacGillis. "No Tunnel For Tysons, Kaine Says", The Washington Post, 7 September 2006, p. A01.
  3. Gene Thorp. "Rail Tunnel Graphic", The Washington Post, April 26, 2006.
  4. "Cost Dooms Metro Plan For Tunnel At Tysons", The Washington Post, 24 March 2006, p. A01.
  5. "Tunnel Back On Table for Dulles Rail", The Washington Post, 26 April 2006, p. A01.
  6. "Tunnel Decision Delayed 2 Months", The Washington Post, May 16, 2006, p. B01.
  7. "Wolf, Davis Say Tunnel May Delay Dulles Rail", The Washington Post, 27 July 2006, p. A01.
  8. Template:Cite press release
  9. (1 December 2006).

External linksEdit

News articlesEdit

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